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For his acts during the preliminary conference for the June 19, 2018 Oral Arguments of this

case,
Atty. Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis III (Atty. Falcis) is held liable for direct contempt of this Court. In
accordance with this Court's March 6, 2018 Advisory,

A preliminary conference was held on June 5, 2018 at the Session Hall of this Court. Atty. Falcis
appeared in his capacities as petitioner and counsel for petitioners-in-intervention.The Office of
the Solicitor General represented respondent. Atty. Fernando P.Perito gave prior notice that he
would be unable to attend. Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen presided over the
proceedings. Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa was also in attendance.

At the start of the preliminary conference, Atty. Falcis failed to rise and manifest his presence
when appearances for petitioner and petitioners-inintervention were called. He also failed to rise
during the initial round of questioning by the Justices. When responding to them, he failed to
address them in keeping with customary courtesies. Throughout the proceedings, he acted as
though he was unprepared and without knowledge of the decorum typical to appearing in court.
Atty. Falcis attempted to explain that he had contracted the services of outside counsel to appear
in collaboration with him, but was hard put to specifically name a lawyer or a law firm. The law
firm he subsequently mentioned, Molo Sia Dy Tuazon Ty Coloma Law Offices (MOSVELDTT),
had yet to enter its appearance in this case.

Atty. Falcis was attired in "a casual jacket, cropped jeans, and loafers without socks. "

When questioned by Associate Justice Leonen why he was so attired, he claimed that he had
attended a meeting with advocates in Makati earlier that day. He was attired in such a manner
despite notice as early as March that he was scheduled to appear before this Court. Because of his
appearance and conduct during the preliminary conference, Atty. Falcis was ordered to file his
written explanation no later than June 6, 2018 as to why he should not be cited in contempt.

On June 6, 2018, Atty. Falcis filed his Compliance (Re: Decorum During the Preliminary
Conference), 6 where he apologized for his poor decorum and appearance during the preliminary
conference. He explained that he had engaged MOSVELDTT to assist him in the oral arguments.
However, due to miscommunication with the handling lawyer, Atty. Darwin Angeles,
MOSVELDTT was unable to file its entry of appearance in time for June 5, 2018. Thus, as the
only counsel on record, Atty. Falcis recognized that he should be the one to attend the preliminary
conference. He only realized that he was underdressed for the preliminary conference when he
entered the Session Hall, by which time it was too late for him to change into a more appropriate
attire

A person guilty of misbehaving in court and showing disrespect towards courts may be punished
for direct contempt. Rule 71, Section 1 of the Rules of Court states:

Section 1. Direct contempt punished summarily. - A person guilty of misbehavior in the presence
of or so near a court as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before the same, including
disrespect toward the court, offensivepersonalities towards others, or refusal to be sworn or to
answer as a witness, or to subscribe to an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required to do so,
may be summarily adjudged in contempt by such court and punished by a fine not exceeding two
thousand pesos, or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) days, or both, if it be a Regional Trial
Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, or by a fine not exceeding two hundred pesos or
imprisonment not exceeding one (1) day, or both, if it be a lower court.

In Patricio v. Hon. Suplico:"

Direct contempt is "misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to obstruct or


interrupt the proceedings before the same, including disrespect towards the court or judge,
offensive personalities toward others, or refusal to be sworn or to answer as a witness, or to
subscribe an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required so to do." Where the act of contumacy
is not committed infacie curiae, or "in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to obstruct or
interrupt the proceedings before the same," i.e., perpetrated outside of the sitting of the court, it is
considered indirect, or constructive, contempt, and may include "(m)isbehavior of an officer of a
court in the performance of his official duties or in his official transactions," "(d)isobedience of or
resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, judgment, or command of a court, or injunction granted
by a court or judge," (a)ny abuse of or any unlawful interference with the process or proceedings
of a court not constituting direct contempt," or "any improper conduct tending, directly or
indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice," etc. 9 (Citations
omitted)Atty. Falcis acted in a contumacious manner during the June 5, 2018 preliminary
conference. Atty. Falcis is not an uninformed layperson. He has been a member of the Philippine
Bar for a number of years. As an officer of the court, he is duty bound to maintain towards this
Court a respectful attitude essential to the proper administration of justice. 10 He is charged with
knowledge of the proper manner by which lawyers are to conduct themselves during judicial
proceedings. His Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility exhort him to
maintain the requisite decency and to afford dignity to this Court. Lawyers must serve their
clients with competence and diligence. Under Rule 18.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, "[a] lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without adequate preparation." Atty.
Falcis' appearance and behavior during the preliminary conference reveal the inadequacy of his
preparation. Considering that the Advisory for Oral Arguments was served on the parties three (3)
months prior to the preliminary conference, it was inexcusably careless for any of them to appear
before this Court so barely prepared.

The preliminary conference was not mere make-work. Rather, it was essential to the orderly
conduct of proceedings and, ultimately, to the judicious disposition of this case. Appearance in it
by counsels and parties should not be taken lightly. Atty. Falcis jeopardized the cause of his
clients. Without even uttering a word, he recklessly courted disfavor with this Court. His bearing
and demeanor were a disservice to his clients and to the human rights advocacy he purports to
represent.

Atty. Falcis is reminded of the requirement under Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility for lawyers to "observe and maintain the respect due to the Courts and to judicial
officers and [to] insist on similar conduct by others." This duty encompasses appearances before
courts in proper attire. This Court does not insist on sartorial pomposity. It does not prescribe
immutable minutiae for physical appearance. Still, professional courtesy demands that persons,
especially lawyers, having business before courts, act with discretion and manifest this discretion
in their choice of apparel. Lawyers make statements and impressions through assertions properly
pleaded and manifested before courts. It is not for their cavalier attire to substitute for substance
and proficiency. Preliminary conferences and oral arguments are official judicial functions. Their
purpose is to aid this Court in resolving weighty issues, often directly involving no less than the
Constitution, that affect the state of the nation and the lives of many persons. It is incumbent upon
all parties present to observe the solemnities of these proceedings. Atty. Falcis has miserably
failed to accord this Court and his clients' cause the dignity and respect they deserve.

WHEREFORE, this Court finds Atty. Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis III GUILTY of DIRECT
CONTEMPT OF COURT. He is hereby ADMONISHED to properly conduct himself in court and
to be more circumspect of the duties attendant to his being a lawyer. He is STERNLY WARNED
that any further contemptuous acts shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be included in the personal record of Atty. Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis
III and entered in his file in the Office of the Bar Confidant."

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