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Cayetano vs.

Monsod

Facts: Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the
position of chairman of the COMELEC. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly
Monsod does not posses required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law
for at least ten years. The 1987 constitution provides in Section 1, Article IX-C: There shall be a
Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be natural-
born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years
of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position
in the immediately preceding elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman,
shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years.
Issue:
Whether the respondent does not possess the required qualification of having engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten years.

Held: In the case of Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava, stated: The practice of law is not
limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings
and other papers incident to actions and special proceeding, the management of such actions
and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In
general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law
incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services, contemplating an appearance
before judicial body, the foreclosure of mortgage, enforcement of a creditor’s claim in
bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in
matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice. Practice of law
means any activity, in or out court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure,
knowledge, training and experience.
The contention that Atty. Monsod does not posses the required qualification of having
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years is incorrect since Atty. Monsod’s past work
experience as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a
lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both rich and the poor – verily more
than satisfy the constitutional requirement for the position of COMELEC chairman, The
respondent has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years does In the view of
the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED.
CRUZ VS CABRERA
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 metrespondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors; during a hearing on
January 14, 2002, in one casebefore 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 ngappear, 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, asuccession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual
exercise. Practice of law to fallwithin the prohibition of statute [referring to the prohibition for
judges and other officials or employees ofthe 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 thepublic as a lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such services. Hence, she
cannot be said tobe 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

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


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.
In re: Argosino (1997)

Doctrine:
The practice of law is a privilege granted only to those who possess the strict intellectual and
moral qualificationsrequired of lawyers who are instruments in the effective and efficient
administration of justice. It is the swornduty of this Court not only to “weed out” lawyers who
have become a disgrace to the noble profession of the
law but, also of equal importance, to prevent “misfits” from taking the lawyer”s oath, thereby f
urther tarnishing the public image of lawyers which in recent years has undoubtedly become
less than irreproachable.Facts:Argosino passed the bar examinations held in 1993 but the Court
deferred his oath-taking due to his previousconviction for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in
Homicide. The criminal case which resulted in petitioner”s conviction,arose from the death of a
neophyte during fraternity initiation rites sometime in September 1991. Petitioner and 7
otheraccused initially entered pleas of not guilty to homicide charges. Later, the 8 accused later
withdrew their initial pleas andupon re-arraignment all pleaded guilty to reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide.Petitioner filed before this Court a petition to be allowed to take the
lawyer”s oath based on the order of hisdischarge from probation. The Court noted however,
that his probationary status was only for the length of 10 months.
Issue:1.

W/N Argosino may be allowed to take the lawyer”s oath

Held/Ratio:1.

YES. The Court issued a resolution requiring Argosino to submit to the Court evidence that he
may now beregarded as complying with the requirement of good moral character imposed
upon those seeking admission tothe bar. Petitioner submitted no less than 15
certifications/letters executed by among others 2 senators, 5 trialcourt judges, and 6 members
of religious orders. Petitioner likewise submitted evidence that a scholarshipfoundation had
been established in honor of Raul Camaligan, the hazing victim, through joint efforts of
thelatter”s family and the 8 accused in the criminal case.In allowing Mr. Argosino to take the
lawyer”s oath, the Court recognizes that Mr. Argosino is not inherently
of bad moral fiber. On the contrary, the various certifications show that he is a devout Catholic
with a genuineconcern for civic duties and public service.The Court is persuaded that Mr.
Argosino has exerted all efforts to atone for the death of Raul Camaligan. Theyare prepared to
give him the benefit of the doubt, taking judicial notice of the general tendency of youth to
berash, temerarious and uncalculating.

Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,


(b) Bar Matter No. 730, Circular No. 19 governing law student practice, and
(c) Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student Practice Rule).

The basic question was “whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear before an inferior
court as an agent or friend of a party litigant.”

The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as encapsulated in Rule 138-A of the
Rules of Court, prohibits the petitioner, as a law student, from entering his appearance in
behalf of his father, the private complainant in the criminal case without the supervision of an
attorney duly accredited by the law school.

Section 1 of Rule 138-A provides that a law student who has successfully completed his 3rd year
of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's
clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board
or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.

Section 2 of the said Rule provides that 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 by the supervising attorney for and in
behalf of the legal clinic.

However, in Resolution6 dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730, the Court En Banc clarified
that the said 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 that 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.
The phrase "in the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No. 730 is subsequently
changed to "In the court of a municipality" as it now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138.

In Section 34 of Rule 138, the appearance of a non-lawyer, as an agent or friend of a party


litigant, is expressly allowed, while Rule 138-A provides for conditions when a law student, not
as an agent or a friend of a party litigant, may appear before the courts.

Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts by a non-lawyer is
allowed, irrespective of whether or not he is a law student.

As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student
may appear, as an agent or a friend of a party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer
before inferior courts.

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 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. BCV-92-11 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.
Sec. 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 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;
Sec. 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.