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Torben Overgaard vs Godwin Valdez

A.C. no. 7902 March 31, 2009


Facts:
Overgaard engaged the services of Atty.
Valdez as his legal counsel in two cases
filed by him and two cases filed against
him.
Torben Overgaard filed a disbarment case
against Atty. Valdez for despite the
receipt of the full amount of legal fees
ofP900,000.00 as stipulated in a Retainer
Agreement, Valdez refused to perform
any of his obligations under their and,
ignored the Overgaards
request for
report of the status of the cases
entrusted, and rejected the complainants
demands for the return of the money
paid to him.
For his part, Atty. Valdez failed to neither
answer the complaint against him nor
attend the hearing even with due notice.
On September 30, 2008 the Court found
Valdez to be guilty of violations of the
canons
of
Code
of
Professional
Responsibility his name was ordered to
be stricken the roll of attorneys.
October 21, 2008 filed a Motion for
Reconsideration. He argued that he have
no knowledge of the disbarment case
filed against him. In September 2006 he
abandoned his Makati office and Cavite
residence and moved his office in
Bukidnon where he also resided due to a
threat on his person, and he was not able
to receive the demands of Overgaard or
orders and notices pertaining to the
disbarment case.
He also argued that he gave the
Overgaard legal advice, and that he

searched for and interviewed witnesses


in relation to the cases he was handling
for the latter. As for the 900, 000.00
pesos, he claimed that he gave
300,000.00 to two intelligence operatives
to locate witnesses. He offered to return
250,000.00 but Overgaards partner
refused to accept. But he was not able to
present receipt made by the intelligence
operatives nor other certification or
receipts on how the money was spent to
provide sufficient accounting.
Held:
In abruptly abandoning his law office
without advising his client and without
making sure that the cases he was
handling for his client were properly
attended to during his absence, and
without making arrangements whereby
he would receive important mail, the
Valdez is clearly guilty of gross
negligence. A lawyer cannot simply
disappear and abandon his clients and
then rely on the convenient excuse that
there were threats to his safety. Even
assuming that there were serious threats
to his person, this did not give him the
permission to desert his client and leave
the cases entrusted to his care hanging.
He should have at least exercised
reasonable and ordinary care and
diligence by taking steps to ensure that
the cases he was handling were attended
to and that his clients interest was
safeguarded. If it was not possible for
him to handle the cases entrusted to his
care, he should have informed the
complainant of his predicament and
asked that he be allowed to withdraw
from the case to enable the client to
engage the services of another counsel
who could properly present him.
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The Motion for Reconsideration is


DENIED. This Courts en banc decision in
Administrative Case No. 7902 dated
September 30, 2008, entitled Torben B.
Overgaard
v.
Atty.
Godwin
R.
Valdez, is AFFIRMED

But does this also mean that he can


automatically resume his practice of law
right after reacquisition?

Petition
for Leave
to Resume
Practice
of
Law,
Benjamin
M.
Dacanay, 540 SCRA 424

(a) the updating and payment in full of


the annual membership dues in the IBP;

No. Dacanay must still comply with


several conditions before he can resume
his practice of law, to wit:

(b) the payment of professional tax;


In 1998, Atty. Benjamin Dacanay went to
Canada to seek medical help. In order for
him to take advantage of Canadas free
medical aid program he became a
Canadian citizen in 2004. In 2006
however, he re-acquired his Philippine
citizenship pursuant to Republic Act 9225
of the Citizenship Retention and ReAcquisition Act of 2003. In the same year,
he returned to the Philippines and he
now intends to resume his practice of
law.
ISSUE: Whether or not Benjamin
Dacanay may still resume his practice of
law.
HELD: Yes. As a rule, the practice of law
and other professions in the Philippines
are reserved and limited only to Filipino
citizens. Philippine citizenship is a
requirement for admission to the bar. So
when Dacanay became a Canadian
citizen in 2004, he ceased to have the
privilege to practice law in the
Philippines. However, under RA 9225, a
Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of
another country is deemed never to have
lost his Philippine citizenship if he
reacquires his Filipino citizenship in
accordance with RA 9225. Hence,
when Dacanay reacquires his Filipino
citizenship in 2006, his membership to
the Philippine bar was deemed to have
never been terminated.

(c) the completion of at least 36 credit


hours of mandatory continuing legal
education; this is especially significant to
refresh the applicant/petitioners
knowledge of Philippine laws and update
him of legal developments and
(d) the retaking of the lawyers
oath which will not only remind him of
his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer
and as an officer of the Court, but also
renew his pledge to maintain allegiance
to the Republic of the Philippines.
Compliance with these conditions will
restore his good standing as a member of
the Philippine bar.
In Re: Argosino, 270 SCRA 26
18 Jul
FACTS:
Al Caparros Argosino had passed the bar
examinations but was denied of taking
the Lawyers Oath and to sign the Rolls of
Attorneys due to his conviction of
reckless imprudence resulting in
homicide from a hazing incident. Later
in his sentence, he was granted
probation by the court. He filed a petition
to the Supreme Court praying that he be
allowed to take the Lawyers Oath and
sign the Rolls of Attorneys. As a proof of
the required good moral character he
now possess, he presented no less than
fifteen (15) certifications among others
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from: two (2) senators, five (5) trial court


judges, and six (6) members of religious
order. In addition, he, together with the
others who were convicted, organized a
scholarship foundation in honor of their
hazing victim.
ISSUE:
Whether or not Mr. Argosino should be
allowed to take the Lawyers Oath, sign
the Rolls of Attorneys, and practice law.

HELD:
YES. Petition granted.

Oath, failed to sign the Attorneys Roll.


After more than 30 years of practicing
the profession of law, he filed the instant
Petition on February 2012, praying that
he be allowed to sign in the Roll of
Attorneys. Medado said that he was not
able to sign the Roll of Attorneys because
he misplaced the notice given to him and
he believed that since he had already
taken the oath, the signing of the Roll of
Attorneys is not urgent, nor as crucial to
his status as a lawyer.
The Office of the Bar Confidant
(OBC) after conducting clarificatory
conference on the matter recommended
to the Supreme Court that the instant
petition be denied for petitioners gross
negligence, gross misconduct and utter
lack of merit.

RATIO:
Given the fact that Mr. Argosino had
exhibited competent proof that he
possessed the required good moral
character as required before taking the
Lawyers Oath and to sign the Rolls of
Attorneys, the Supreme Court considered
the premises that he is not inherently in
bad moral fiber. In giving the benefit of
the doubt, Mr. Argosino was finally
reminded that the Lawyers Oath is not
merely a ceremony or formality before
the practice of law, and that the
community assistance he had started is
expected to continue in serving the more
unfortunate members of the society.
IN RE: PETITION TO SIGN IN THE
ROLL OF ATTORNEYS
BM No. 2540 September 24, 2013

Statement of Facts:
Petitioner Michael Medado, who
obtained his law degree in the year 1979,
took and passed the same years bar
examinations and took the Attorneys

Issue:
WON the petitioner be allowed to
sign in the roll of attorneys?

Ruling:
Yes,
the
Court
allowed
the
petitioner to sign the Roll of Attorneys
subject to the payment of a fine and the
imposition of a penalty equivalent to
suspension from the practice of law.
The Court cannot forbid the
petitioner from signing the Roll of
Attorneys
because
such
action
constitutes disbarment. Such penalty is
reserved to the most serious ethical
transgressions of members of the Bar.
The Court cited three main points
which demonstrate Medados worth to
become a full-fledged member of the
Philippine
Bar.
First,
Medado
demonstrated good faith and good moral
character when he finally filed the instant
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Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys. It


was Medado himself who admitted his
own error and not any third person.
Second, petitioner has not been subject
to any action for disqualification from the
practice of law. He strove to adhere to
the strict requirements of the ethics of
the profession and that he has prima
facie shown that he possesses the
character required to be a member of the
Philippine Bar. Third, Medado appears to
have been a competent and able legal
practitioner,
having
held
various
positions at the Laurel Law Office, Petron,
Petrophil Corporation, the Philippine
National Oil Company, and the Energy
Development Corporation.
However, the Court cannot fully
free Medado from all liability for his years
of inaction. His justification of his action,
that it was neither willful nor intentional
but based on a mistaken belief and an
honest error of judgment was opposed
by the Court.
A mistake of law cannot be utilized
as a lawful justification,
because
everyone is presumed to know the law
and its consequences. Although an
honest mistake of fact could be used to
excuse a person from the legal
consequences of his acts he could no
longer claim it as a valid justification by
the moment he realized that what he had
signed was merely an attendance record.
His action of continuing the practice of
law in spite of his knowledge of the need
to take the necessary steps to complete
all requirements for the admission to the
bar constitutes unauthorized practice of
law. Such action transgresses Canon 9 of
'the Code of Professional Responsibility,
which provides:
CANON 9 - A lawyer shall not,
directly or indirectly, assist in
the unauthorized practice of
law.
With respect to the penalty,
previous violations of Canon 9 have

warranted the penalty of suspension


from the practice of law. However, in the
instant case the Court could not warrant
the penalty of suspension from the
practice of law to Medado because he is
not yet a full-fledged lawyer. Instead, the
Court see it fit to impose upon him a
penalty similar to suspension by allowing
him to sign in the Roll of Attorneys one
( 1) year after receipt of the Resolution
and
to fine him in the amount of
P32,000.
The instant Petition to Sign in the
Roll of Attorneys is Affirmed. Petitioner
Michael A. Medado is ALLOWED to sign in
the Roll of Attorneys ONE (1) YEAR after
receipt of the Resolution. Petitioner is
likewise ORDERED to pay a FINE of
P32,000 for his unauthorized practice of
law. During the one year period,
petitioner is NOT ALLOWED to practice
law, and is STERNLY WARNED that doing
any act that constitutes practice of law
before he has signed in the Roll of
Attorneys will be dealt with severely by
the Court.

BAR MATTER NO. 730 June 13, 1997


Gentlemen:
Quoted hereunder, for your information,
is a resolution of the Court En Banc
dated June 10, 1997.
IN RE: NEED THAT LAW STUDENT
PRACTICING UNDER RULE 138-A BE
ACTUALLY SUPERVISED DURING
TRIAL (BAR MATTER NO. 730).
The issue in this Consulta is whether a
law student who appears before the
court under the Law Student Practice
Rule (Rule 138-A) should be accompanied
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by a member of the bar during the trial.


This issue was raised by retired Supreme
Court Justice Antonio P. Barredo, counsel
for the defendant in Civil Case No. BCV92-11 entitled Irene A. Caliwara v. Roger
T. Catbagan filed before the Regional Trial
Court of Bacoor, Cavite.
The records show that the plaintiff in civil
Case No. BCV-92-11 was represented by
Mr. Cornelio Carmona, Jr., an intern at the
Office of Legal Aid, UP-College of Law
(UP-OLA). Mr. Carmona conducted
hearings and completed the presentation
of the plaintiff's evidence-in-chief without
the presence of a supervising lawyer.
Justice Barredo questioned the
appearance of Mr. Carmona during the
hearing because the latter was not
accompanied by a duly accredited
lawyer. On December 15, 1994, Presiding
Judge Edelwina Pastoral issued an Order
requiring Mr. Carmona to be
accompanied by a supervising lawyer on
the next hearing. In compliance with said
Order, UP-OLA and the Secretary of
Justice executed a Memorandum of
Agreement directing Atty. Catubao and
Atty. Legayada of the Public Attorney's
Office to supervise Mr. Carmona during
the subsequent hearings.
Justice Barredo asserts that a law student
appearing before the trial court under
Rule 138-A should be accompanied by a
supervising lawyer. 1 On the other hand,
UP-OLA, through its Director, Atty. Alfredo
F. Tadiar, submits that "the matter of
allowing a law intern to appear
unaccompanied by a duly accredited
supervising lawyer should be . . . left to
the sound discretion of the court after
having made at least one supervised
appearance." 2
For the guidance of the bench and bar,
we hold that a law student appearing
before the Regional Trial Court under Rule
138-A should at all times be
accompanied by a supervising lawyer.
Section 2 of Rule 138-A provides.

Section 2. Appearance. The


appearance of the law student
authorized by this rule, shall be under
the direct supervision and control of a
member of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines duly accredited by the law
school. Any and all pleadings, motions,
briefs, memoranda or other papers to be
filed, must be signed the by supervising
attorney for and in behalf of the legal
clinic.
The phrase "direct supervision and
control" requires no less than the
physical presence of the supervising
lawyer during the hearing. This is in
accordance with the threefold rationale
behind the Law Student Practice Rule, to
wit: 3
1. to ensure that there
will be no miscarriage
of justice as a result of
incompetence or
inexperience of law
students, who, not
having as yet passed
the test of professional
competence, are
presumably not fully
equipped to act a
counsels on their own;
2. to provide a
mechanism by which
the accredited law
school clinic may be
able to protect itself
from any potential
vicarious liability
arising from some
culpable action by their
law students; and
3. to ensure
consistency with the
fundamental principle
that no person is
allowed to practice a
particular profession
without possessing the
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qualifications,
particularly a license,
as required by law.
The matter of allowing a law student to
appear before the court unaccompanied
by a supervising lawyer cannot be left to
the discretion of the presiding judge. The
rule clearly states that the appearance of
the law student shall be under the direct
control and supervision of a member of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly
accredited by law schools. The rule must
be strictly construed because public
policy demands that legal work should be
entrusted only to those who possess
tested qualifications, are sworn to
observe the rules and ethics of the legal
profession and subject to judicial
disciplinary control. 4 We said in Bulacan
v. Torcino: 5
Court procedures are often
technical and may prove like
snares to the ignorant or the
unwary. In the past, our law has
allowed non-lawyers to appear for
party litigants in places where duly
authorized members of the bar are
not available (U.S. vs. Bacansas, 6
Phil. 539). For relatively simple
litigation before municipal courts,
the Rules still allow a more
educated or capable person in
behalf of a litigant who cannot get
a lawyer. But for the protection of
the parties and in the interest of
justice, the requirement for
appearances in regional trial courts
and higher courts is more
stringent.
The Law Student Practice Rule is only an
exception to the rule. Hence, the
presiding judge should see to it that the
law student appearing before the court is
properly guided and supervised by a
member of the bar.
The rule, however, is different if the law
student appears before an inferior court,

where the issues and procedure are


relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law
student may appear in his personal
capacity without the supervision of a
lawyer. Section 34 Rule 138 provides;
Section 34. By whom litigation is
conducted. In the court of a
justice of the peace, a party may
conduct his litigation in person,
with the aid of an agent or friend
appointed by him for that purpose,
or with the aid of an attorney. In
any other court, a party may
conduct his litigation personally or
by aid of an attorney, and his
appearance must be either
personal or by a duly authorized
member of the bar.
Thus, a law student may appear before
an inferior court as an agent or friend of
a party without the supervision of a
member of the bar.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, we hold that a law
student appearing before the Regional
Trial Court under the authority of Rule
138-A must be under the direct control
and supervision of a member of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly
accredited by the law school and that
said law student must be accompanied
by a supervising lawyer in all his
appearance.
Padilla and Francisco, J.J., on leave.
Ui v. Bonifacio
Petitioner: Leslie Ui
Respondent: Atty. Iris Bonifacio
Facts of the case: Leslie Ui filed an
administrative case for disbarment
against Atty. Iris Bonifacio on grounds of
immoral
conduct.
Atty.
Bonifacio
allegedly is having an illicit relationship
with Carlos Ui, husband of Leslie Ui,
whom they begot two children. According
to petitioner, Carlos Ui admitted to him
about the relationship between them and
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Atty. Bonifacio. This led Leslie Ui to


confront said respondent to stop their
illicit affair but of to no avail. According
however to respondent, she is a victim
in the situation. When respondent
met Carlos Ui, she had known him to
be a bachelor but with children to
an estranged Chinese woman who is
already in Amoy, China. Moreover,
the two got married in Hawaii, USA
therefore legalizing their relationship.
When respondent knew of the real status
of Carlos Ui, she stopped their
relationship. Respondent further claims
that she and Carlos Ui never lived
together as the latter lived with his
children to allow them to gradually
accept
the
situation.
Respondent
however presented a misrepresented
copy of her marriage contract.
Ruling: The practice of law is a privilege.
A bar candidate does not have the
right to enjoy the practice of the legal
profession simply by passing the bar
examinations. It is a privilege that can
be revoked, subject to the mandate of
due process, once a lawyer violates his
oath and the dictates of legal ethics.
One of the conditions prior to admission
to the bar is that an applicant must
possess good moral character. More
importantly, possession of good
moral character must be continuous
as a requirement to the enjoyment of the
privilege of law practice, otherwise, the
loss thereof is a ground for the
revocation of such privilege. A lawyer
may be disbarred for "grossly immoral
conduct, or by reason of his conviction of
a crime involving moral turpitude". A
member of the bar should have moral
integrity in addition to professional
probity. In the case at bar, Atty. Bonifacio
was not proven to have conducted
herself in a grossly immoral manner .
Thus, the case is dismissed. But she is
reprimanded and given a stern warning
with regards to the of her marriage
contract with an inculcated date.

UI vs. BONIFACIO
Adm. Case No. 3319, June 8, 2000
Facts:
A complaint for disbarment
was filed by the complainant, Leslie Ui
against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio
before the Commission on Bar Discipline
of the IBP on the grounds of immorality,
for carrying on an illicit relationship with
the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. It
is respondents contention that her
relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit
because they were married abroad and
that after June 1998 when respondent
discovered Carlos Uis true civil status,
she cut off all her ties with him.

Issue:
Did the respondent conduct
herself in an immoral manner for which
she deserves to be barred from the
practice of law?
Held: NO. The practice of law is a
privilege. A bar candidate does not have
the right to enjoy the practice of the legal
profession simply by passing the bar
examinations. It is a privilege that can be
revoked, subject to the mandate of due
process, once a lawyer violates his oath
and the dictates of legal ethics. If good
moral character is a sine qua non for
admission to the bar, then the continued
possession of good moral character is
also requisite for retaining membership
in the legal profession.
Membership in the bar may be
terminated when a lawyer ceases to have
good moral character. A lawyer may be
disbarred for grossly immoral conduct or
by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude. A member of
the bar should have moral integrity in
addition to professional probity.
Circumstances existed which
should
have
aroused
respondents
suspicion that something was amiss in
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her relationship with Ui, and moved her


to ask probing questions. Respondent
was imprudent in managing her personal
affairs. However, the fact remains that
her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as
it was with what respondent believed
was a valid marriage, cannot be
considered as an immoral. For immorality
connotes conduct that shows indifference
to the moral norms of society and to
opinion of good and respectable member
of the community. Moreover, for such
conduct to warrant disciplinary action,
the same must be grossly immoral, that
is it must be so corrupt and false as to
constitute
a
criminal
act
or
so
unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a
high degree.
A member of the Bar and
officer of the court is not only required to
refrain from adulterous relationships . . .
but must also so behave himself as to
avoid scandalizing the public by creating
the belief that he is flouting those moral
standards.
Respondents
act
of
immediately
distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon
discovering his true civil status belies just
that alleged moral indifference and
proves that she had no intention of
flaunting the law and the high moral
standard of the legal profession.

Figueroa vs. Barranco


Post under case digests, Legal Ethics at
Thursday, March 01, 2012 Posted by
Schizophrenic Mind
Facts: Figueroa and Barranco were
sweethearts since their teens. Their
intimacy eventually resulted to a son
born out of wedlock. At this point (1964)
Barranco promised Figueroa that he
would marry her when he passes the bar
examinations. After four takes, he finally
passed but did not hold true to his
promise of marriage. In 1971, their
relationship ended. Years later, he
married another woman. When Barranco
was about to take his oath to enter the
legal
profession,
Figueroa
filed
a
complaint relaying to the court what
happened between her and Barranco.
Until 1988, Barranco has filed three
motions to dismiss because Figueroa still
would not persecute and because for the
past years, he has become elected in the
Sangguniang
Bayan,
has
actively
participated in various civic organizations
and has acquired a good standing within
his community while the case was
pending. The court sought the opinion of
the IBP which recommended that
Barranco be allowed to take his oath.
Figueroa reappeared and intercepted the
scheduled oath-taking of Barranco which
led to its delay.

Issue: Whether or not Barranco should


be allowed to take his oath despite the
accusations of Figueroa.

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Held: Yes. The maintenance of an


intimate relationship between a man and
a woman, both of whom had no
impediment to marry and voluntarily
carried on with the affair, does not
amount to a grossly immoral conduct
even if a child was born out of the
relationship. His previous acts may be
said to be a question to his moral
character but none of these are so
corrupt and false as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled or
disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a
high degree. Her allegations that she
was forced to have sexual relations with
him cannot lie as evidenced by her
continued cohabitation with him even
after their child was born in 1964. The
ignobleness of his treatment of Figueroa
is sufficiently punished by the 26 years
that he has been prevented from
entering the profession he has worked so
hard for.

the judicialsystem, let alone, by those who


have beenprivileged by it to practise law in
thePhilippines.
(Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, 416SCRA 465
(2003))

Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel orabet


activities aimed at defiance of the law orat
lessening confidence in the legalprofession.

Rule 1.02 requires that the lawyer should


notpromote an organization known to be
violatingthe law nor assist it in a scheme
which heknows is dishonest. He should not
allow hisservices to be engaged by an
organizationwhose member as violating the
law, to defendthem when they get caught.
(Agpalo)

The Supreme Court will not denounce


criticismmade by anyone against the Court
for, if wellfounded, can truly have
constructive effects inthe task of the Court,
but it will notcountenance any wrongdoing
nor allow theerosion of our peoples faith in
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