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#83 - ELMER CANOY, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE MAX ORTIZ, respondent.

FACTS:
- A Complaint was filed Canoy accusing Atty. Ortiz of misconduct and malpractice.
It was alleged that Canoy filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against Coca Cola
Philippines.
- Atty. Ortiz appeared as counsel for Canoy in this proceeding.
-Canoy submitted all the documents and records to Atty. Ortiz for the preparation of
the position paper.
-Thereafter, he made several unfruitful visits to the office of Atty. Ortiz to follow-up
the progress of the case.
-He was shocked to learn that his complaint was actually dismissed way back in
1998, for failure to prosecute, the parties not having submitted their position
papers.
-Canoy alleged that Ortiz had never communicated to him about the status of the
case.
-Atty. Ortiz informs the Court that he has mostly catered to indigent and lowincome clients, at considerable financial sacrifice to himself.
-Atty. Ortiz admits that the period within which to file the position paper had
already lapsed.
-He attributes this failure to timely file the position paper to the fact that after his
election as Councilor of Bacolod City, he was frankly preoccupied with both his
functions as a local government official and as a practicing lawyer.
ISSUE:

W/N Atty. is liable to be sanctioned.

HELD:
Atty. Ortiz is to be sanctioned. Several of the canons and rules in the Code of
Professional Responsibility guard against the sort of conduct. One of which is Canon
22- DUTY TO WITHDRAW SERVICES ONLY FOR GOOD CAUSE AND UPON NOTICE.
Assuming that Atty. Ortiz was justified in terminating his services, he, however,
cannot just do so and leave complainant in the cold unprotected. Indeed, Rule
22.02 requires that a lawyer who withdraws or is discharged shall, subject
to a lien, immediately turn over all papers and property to which the client
is entitled, and shall cooperate with his successor in the orderly transfer
of the matter. Atty. Ortiz claims that the reason why he took no further action on
the case was that he was informed that Canoy had acquired the services of another
counsel. Assuming that were true, there was no apparent coordination between Atty.
Ortiz and this new counsel. In fact, it took nearly two years before Canoy had
learned that the position paper had not been filed and that the case had been
dismissed. This was highly irresponsible of Atty. Ortiz, much more so considering
that Canoy was one of the indigent clients whom Atty. Ortiz proudly claims as his
favored clientele. It does not escape the Courts attention that Atty. Ortiz faults
Canoy for not adequately following up the case with his office. He cannot now shift

the blame to complainant for failing to inquire about the status of the case, since, as
stated above, it was his duty as lawyer to inform his clients of the status of cases
entrusted to him. Respondent Atty. Jose Max S. Ortiz is ordered SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for one (1) month from notice, with the warning that a repetition
of the same negligence will be dealt with more severely.

#84 Francisco vs Portugal


FACTS:
-Before the Court is an affidavit-complaint filed against Atty. Jaime Portugal for
violation of the Lawyers Oath, gross misconduct, and gross negligence.
-Complainants are related to the policemen in a previous case in whose behalf
respondent filed a Petition for Certoriari.
-The services of the respondent were engaged by the policemen who faced murder
charges.
-Respondent filed Motions for Reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan and was
never heard from again.
-The complainants learned that the Court denied the petition with finality; warrants
of arrest were issued against them.
-The caseload as well as the lack of financial consideration were some reasons for
the respondents withdrawal as their counsel.
-A commission formed by the IBP found the respondent guilty and recommended
suspension for six months.
ISSUE:Is the respondents refusal to aid the indigent policemen justified?
HELD:
No. The respondent is suspended for three months. The Bar Confidant will
annotate the record of the respondent. Respondent has a higher duty to be
circumspect in defending the accused for their life and liberty are on the line. It is
the strict sense of fidelity of a lawyer to his client that distinguishes him from any
other profession in society. As to the respondents conduct in dealing with
complainants, he definitely fell short of the high standard of assiduousness that a
counsel must perform to safeguard the rights of his clients. Respondent had not
been candid in his dealings with the complainants; the prudent step was at least to
inform the clients of the adverse situation since they called him to check the status
of the case. Had respondent truly intended to withdraw his appearance for the
accused, he is lawyer who is presumably steeped in court procedures and practices,
should have filed the notice of withdrawal himself. At the very least, he should have
informed the Court through a proper notice that he had already given instructions
on the proper way to file the Notice of Withdrawal. In not so doing, he was negligent
in handling the case of the accused. While the client has absolute right to terminate
the attorney-client relation at anytime; the right of an attorney to withdraw the
relationship is considerably restricted. Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the

principle that an attorney who undertakes to conduct an action impliedly stipulates


to carry it to its conclusion. He is not at liberty to abandon it without
reasonable cause. A lawyers right to withdraw from a case before its final
adjudication arises only from the clients consent. Once he agrees to take up the
cause of the client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be
mindful of the trust reposed in him. After agreeing to take up the causeof the client,
a lawyer owes fidelity to his cause and client, even if the client never paid any fee
for the attorney-client relationship. Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in
which the duty of public service, not money, is the primary consideration.