Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 2

RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO vs. ATT Y. CARLOS B.

SAGUCIO
A.C. No. 6705 March 31, 2006
FACTS:
Ruthie Lim-Santiago filed a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio for violating Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against private practice of law while working as government prosecutor. The complainant
is the daughter of one of the stockholder and former President of Taggat Industries Inc where the respondent worked as a Personnel
Manager and Retained Counsel before his appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor.
Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat filed a criminal complaint. They alleged that complainant, who took over the
management and control of Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of their salaries and wages without valid cause from
1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997. Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the preliminary investigation. He
resolved the criminal complaint by recommending the filing of 651 Informations for violation of Article 288 in relation to Article 116 of
the Labor Code of the Philippines.
Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
1. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of representing conflicting
interests. Respondent, being the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat, knew the operations of Taggat very well
and should have inhibited himself from hearing, investigating and deciding the case filed by Taggat employees.
2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor
Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government
prosecutor. Complainant presented evidence to prove that respondent received retainer's fee.
On the other hand, respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed, he is no longer part of Taggat. He contends that
complainant failed to establish lack of impartiality when he performed his duty. He points out that complainant did not file a motion to
inhibit respondent from hearing the criminal complaint but instead complainant voluntarily executed and filed her counter-affidavit
without mental reservation. Respondent asserts that no conflicting interests exist because he was not representing Taggat employees or
the complainant and he was merely performing his official duty as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, after their investigation found that respondent is guilty of conflict of interests, failure to safeguard
a former client’s interest, and violating the prohibition against the private practice of law while being a government prosecutor.

ISSUE:
1. Whether or not being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts with his role as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor in deciding the labor case
filed against the complainant.
2. Whether or not respondent engaged in the private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor

HELD:
1. The court found no conflict of interests when respondent handled the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by
Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages. Clearly, respondent was no longer
connected with Taggat during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992.
In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence must be presented to prove that respondent used against
Taggat, his former client, any confidential information acquired through his previous employment. The only established participation
respondent had with respect to the criminal complaint is that he was the one who conducted the preliminary investigation. The fact
alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved as government
prosecutor was labor related is not a sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests.
A lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client.
The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the client’s interests only on matters that he previously handled
for the former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated. Further, complainant failed to
present a single iota of evidence to prove her allegations. Thus, respondent is not guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.

2. The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the
profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any
degree of legal knowledge or skill. Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to Taggat intermittently and he was
not a retained counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as alleged. This argument is without merit because the law does not distinguish
between consultancy services and retainer agreement. For as long as respondent performed acts that are usually rendered by lawyers
with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term "practice of law."
Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal services to complainant while working as a government prosecutor. Even
the receipts he signed stated that the payments by Taggat were for "Retainer’s fee." Thus, as correctly pointed out by complainant,
respondent clearly violated the prohibition in RA 6713.
Here, respondent’s violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that "[a] lawyer shall not
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Respondent’s admission that he received from Taggat fees for legal
services while serving as a government prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government employees engaging in unauthorized private practice of profession is
suspension for six months and one day to one year. The court finds this penalty appropriate for respondent’s violation in this case of
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

DECISION:
WHEREFORE, the court finds that respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS
effective upon finality of this Decision.
CRUZ VS CABRERA

SECOND DIVISION[ A.C. No. 5737, October 25, 2004 ]

FERDINAND A. CRUZ, COMPLAINANT,

VS.

ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, RESPONDENT.

Facts:

Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of 2001, he instituted several actions against his
neighbors; he appeared for and in his behalf in his own cases; he met respondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors; during a
hearing on January 14, 2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 112, Pasay City, presided by Judge Caridad Cuerdo.

Respondent’s imputations were uncalled for and the latter’s act of compelling the court to ask complainant whether he is a lawyer or
not was intended to malign him before the public, inasmuch as respondent knew that complainant is not a lawyer, having appeared for
and in his behalf as a party litigant in prior cases; respondent’s imputations of complainant’s misrepresentation as a lawyer was patently
with malice to discredit his honor, with the intention to threaten him not to appear anymore in cases respondent was handling; the
manner, substance, tone of voice and how the words “appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna!” were uttered were totally with the
intention to annoy, vex and humiliate, malign, ridicule, incriminate and discredit complainant before the public.

Issue:

Whether or not respondent violated Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Whether or not complainant is not precluded from litigating personally his cases

Whether or not complainant is engaged in the practice of law

Ruling:

1. We hold that respondent’s outburst of “appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna” does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Such single outburst, though uncalled for, is not of such magnitude as to warrant respondent’s
suspension or reproof. It is but a product of impulsiveness or the heat of the moment in the course of an argument between them. It has
been said that lawyers should not be held to too strict an account for words said in the heat of the moment, because of chagrin at losing
cases, and that the big way is for the court to condone even contemptuous language.

2. Nonetheless, we remind respondent that complainant is not precluded from litigating personally his cases. A party’s right to conduct
litigation personally is recognized by Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court: SEC. 34. By whom litigation 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.

3. The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a profession or vocation usually for gain, mainly as
attorney by acting in a representative capacity and as counsel by rendering legal advise to others. Private practice has been defined by
this Court as follows:
x x x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind.
In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring to the prohibition for
judges and other officials or employees of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General from engaging in private practice]
has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one’s self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such
services. x x x.

Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding herself out to the public as a lawyer. Neither
was she demanding payment for such services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in the practice of law.

On the other hand, all lawyers should take heed that lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute
and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. Membership in the
bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves
honorably and fairly. Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting
the dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum.