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In the matter of Petition for authority to continue use of firm name: Facts: The case involves two petitions. The first was filed by the surviving partners of Atty. Alexander Sycip who died on May 5, 1975 and the other by the surviving partners of Atty. Herminio Ozaeta who died on February 14, 1976 praying that they be allowed to continue using in the name of their firms the names of their deceased partners who had passed away. The petitioner anchored their petitions on the following: 1)that under the law, a partnership is not prohibited from continuing its business under a firm name which includes the name of a deceased partner; 2) that in regulating other professions, such as accountancy and engineering, the legislature has authorized the adoption of firm names without any restriction as to the use, in such firm name, of the name of a deceased partner; 3)that the Canons of Professional Ethics are not transgressed by the continued use of the name of a deceased partner in the firm name of a law partnership because Canon 33 of the Canons of Professional Ethics adopted by the American Bar Association declares that the continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner when permissible by local custom, is not unethical but care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use; 4) that there is no possibility of imposition or deception because the deaths of their respective deceased partners were well-publicized in all newspapers of general circulation for several days; the stationeries now being used by them carry new letterheads indicating the years when their respective deceased partners were connected with the firm and; 5) that no local custom prohibits the continued use of a deceased partner's name in a professional firm's name. Issue: Whether or not the petitioners should be allowed to use in their firm names the names of their deceased partners Held: The court ruled in the negative. The court cited the following reasons. First is that Article. 1815 of the Civil Code provides that “Every partnership shall operate under a firm name, which may or may not include the name of one or more of the partners. Those who, not being members of the partnership, include their names in the firm name, shall be subject to the liability, of a partner” thus it is clearly tacit in the above provision that names in a firm name of a partnership must either be those of living partners’ and. in the case of non-partners, should be living persons who can be subjected to liability. Second, the courts said that a partnership for the practice of law cannot be likened to partnerships formed by other professionals or for business. For one thing, the law on accountancy specifically allows the use of a trade name in connection with the practice of accountancy. A partnership for the practice of law is not a legal entity. It is a mere relationship or association for a particular purpose. It is not a partnership formed for the purpose of carrying on trade or business or of holding property. Thus, it has been stated that "the use of a nom de plume, assumed or trade name in law practice is improper. And lastly while the court admits that it is true that Canon 33 does not consider as unethical the continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner in the firm name of a law partnership when such a practice is permissible by local custom but the Canon warns that care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use. It must be conceded that in the Philippines, no local custom permits or allows the continued use of a deceased or former partner's name in the firm names of law partnerships. Cayetano vs Monsod FACTS Monsod was nominated by President Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC on April 25, 1991. Cayetano opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod’s nomination, petitioner filed a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void because Monsod did not meet the requirement of having practiced law for the last ten years. ISSUE: Whether or not Monsod satisfies the requirement of the position of Chairman of the COMELEC. HELD: The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: “. . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law.” Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86.55%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years. Atty. Monsod’s past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor — verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement — that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In Re: Gutierrez On April 18, 2012 Legal Ethics – 5 SCRA 661 – Conditional Pardon will not bar disbarment Attorney Gutierrez was convicted for the murder of one Filemon Samaco in 1956. He was sentenced to the penalty of reclusion perpetua. In 1958, after serving a portion of the penalty, he was granted a conditional pardon by the President. He was released on the condition that he shall not commit any crime. Subsequently, the widow of Samaco filed a disbarment case against Gutierrez by reason of the latter’s conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Murder, is without a doubt, such a crime. ISSUE: Whether or not Gutierrez may be disbarred considering the fact that he was granted pardon. HELD: Yes. The pardon granted to Gutierrez is not absolute but conditional. It merely remitted his sentence. It does not reach the offense itself. Gutierrez must be judged upon the fact of his conviction for murder without regard to the pardon (which he invoked in defense). The crime was actually qualified by treachery and aggravated by its having been committed in hand, by taking advantage of his official position (Gutierrez being municipal mayor at the time) and with the use of motor vehicle. The degree of moral turpitude involved is such as to justify his being purged from the profession. People vs Tuanda A.M. No. 3360 January 30, 1990 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, complainant vs.ATTY. FE T. TUANDA, respondent. Facts; Respondent was suspended for practicing his profession until further notice from the Supreme Court finding her guilty of violating BP 22. Atty. Tuanda is now appealing to the Supreme Court for her suspension to be lifted arguing that her suspension was a penalty so harsh on top of the fines imposed to her in violation of the aforementioned law. Arguing further that she intends no damage to the plaintiff-appellee (Herminia A. Marquez)and she is not guilty of the offense charged. Issue; WON the suspension of Atty. Fe Tuanda be lifted. Ruling; The Supreme Court ruled to DENY the respondent of his Motion to Lift Order of Suspension and affirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeals regarding the suspension. The court found Atty. Fe Tuanda guilty of an offense involving moral turpitude citing Secs 27 and 28 of the Rules of Court and the Code of Professional Responsibility. DR. RAUL C. SANCHEZ, complainant, vs. ATTY. SALUSTINO SOMOSO, respondent. DECISION VITUG, J.: In his complaint-affidavit filed before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Dr. Raul C. Sanchez, a member of the medical staff of Sta. Lucia General Hospital, stated that he was the attending physician of respondent Atty. Salustino Somoso during the latter’s confinement at the hospital from 31 March to 09 April 1998. When respondent was discharged on 09 April 1998, he urged complainant that, since it was a public holiday and banks were closed that day for business, the latter be good enough to accept a check in payment of the hospital bills due complainant totalling P44,347.00. Although apprehensive at first, complainant was later persuaded, however, by respondent’s plea of his being a lawyer who can be trusted as such. Complainant thus accepted two personal checks from respondent; to wit: BANK CHECK NO. DATE Metrobank (Lagro Branch) Metrobank (Lagro Branch) [1] AMOUNT 2620115754 04/14/98 P22,347.00 2620115755 04/16/98 P22,000.00 1 When deposited, the checks were dishonored. Complainant immediately met with and informed respondent about it. Respondent promised to redeem the dishonored checks in cash; he never did. Ultimately, complainant filed a criminal complaint for estafa against respondent with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City. On 15 August 2001, the City Prosecutor issued a resolution holding that the necessary Informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22) should be filed against respondent. Pursuant to the resolution, two Informations for violation of BP 22 were filed against respondent before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City. A warrant for his arrest was issued but, somehow, respondent was able to evade arrest. Complainant in his administrative complaint submits that respondent is a disgrace to the law profession and unfit to be a member of the bar, and that he should be disbarred and his name stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys. Pursuant to an order, dated 31 July 2002, of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), respondent was furnished with a copy of the complaint and ordered to submit his answer within fifteen (15) days from his receipt of a copy of the complaint. 1 Despite the receipt of the IBP-CBD order in his two given addresses, respondent failed to file his answer to the complaint. Respondent was finally declared to be in default. In its report and recommendation, the IBP-CBD found sufficient evidence on record to substantiate the charges made by complainant against respondent and recommended that the latter be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months. In Resolution No. XV-2003-177, dated 26 April 2003, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines adopted and approved the report and recommendation of the IBP-CBD. The Court accepts the findings and recommendation of the IBP. Clearly, respondent’s action of issuing his personal checks in payment for his medical bills, knowing fully well that his account with the drawee bank has by then already been closed, constitutes a gross violation of the basic norm of integrity required of all members of the legal profession. The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically mandates that: “Canon 1. A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. “Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” “Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. “Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.” The canons emphasize the high standard of honesty and fairness expected of a lawyer not only in the practice of the legal profession but also in his personal dealings as well. A lawyer must conduct himself with great propriety, and his behavior should be beyond reproach anywhere and at all times. [2] 2 When respondent paid, with a personal check from a bank account which he knew had already been closed, the person who attended to his medical needs and persisted in refusing to settle his due obligation despite demand, respondent exhibited an extremely low regard to his commitment to the oath he has taken when he joined his peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession he should, instead, hold in high esteem. His conduct deserve nothing less than a severe disciplinary sanction. The law profession is a noble calling, and the privilege to practice it is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent and fit to exercise it. [3] 3 2 3 WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Salustino Somoso GUILTY of misconduct, and he is ordered suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months effective from receipt of this decision, with a warning that any further infraction by him shall be dealt with most severely. Let copies of this Decision be furnished to all courts, as well as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and to the Office of the Bar Confidant. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur. LEGAL PROFESSION CASE 23 ROYONG VS. OBLENA AC No. 376 April 30, 1963 En Banc, Barrera FACTS: • Complainant Josefina Royong charge the respondent Ariston Oblena, a member of the bar and bench, with rape. The Solicitor General immediately conducted an investigation and found out that there was no rape, the carnal knowledge between complainant and respondent seems to be consensual sex. • In view of his own findings as a result of his investigation, that even if respondent did not commit the alleged rape, nevertheless, he was guilty of other misconduct. The Solicitor General made another complaint charging the respondent of falsely and deliberately alleging in his application for admission to the bar that he is a person of good moral character, of living adulterously with Briccia Angeles at the same time maintaining illicit relations with the 18 year old Josefina Royong. Thus rendering him unfit to practice law, praying that this Court render judgment ordering the permanent removal of the respondent as lawyer and judge. ISSUE: Whether or not the illicit relation of the respondent with Josefina Royong and the adulterous cohabitation of respondent with Briccia Angeles warrants disbarment. HELD: Ariston Oblena was disbarred. RATIO: The continued possession of a fair private and professional character or a good moral character is a requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the practice of law for one who has been admitted, and its loss requires suspension or disbarment even though the statutes do not specify that as ground for disbarment. Respondent's conduct though unrelated to his office and in no way directly bearing on his profession, has nevertheless rendered him unfit and unworthy of the privileges of a lawyer. Fornication, if committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as have proven in this case, as to shock common sense of decency, certainly may justify positive action by the Court in protecting the prestige of the noble profession of the law. As former Chief Justice Moran observed: An applicant for license to practice law is required to show good moral character, or what he really is, as distinguished from good reputation, or from the opinion generally entertained of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is known. Respondent, therefore, did not possess a good moral character at the time he applied for admission to the bar. He lived an adulterous life with Briccia Angeles, and the fact that people who knew him sqemed to have acuuiesced to his utatus, did noq render him a person of good moral character. It is of no moment that his immoral state was discovered then or now as he is clearly not fit to remain a member of the bar. CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA, Respondent Facts: The case is a disbarment case against respondent on the ground of gross immorality. It was alleged that sometime in December 2004, complainant seek for legal advice from peitioner regarding her collectibles from a travel company. Respondent sent Demand Letter and sometime in February 2005, they met at Zensho Restaurant to discuss the possibility of filing complaint against the travel company because the latter failed to settle the accounts. That after that said meeting, the respondent "held her arm and kissed her on the cheek while embracing her very tightly." The two met again to finalize the draft for the complaint and while on their way home after the said meeting, the respondent suddenly stopped the car and things went out of hand. Thus she decided to refer the case to another lawyer. Issue: Whether or not the respondent committed acts are grossly immoral which would warrant the disbarment or suspension from the practice of law. Held: The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: CANON I – x x x Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. xxxx Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. The SC held that lawyers are expected to abide the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but all throughtout their legal career as lawyers belong to an exclusive and honored fraternity. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the legal profession and should adhere to the unwaveringly to the highest standard of morality. The respondent admitted to the act of kissing the complainant on the lips as evidenced as well of his asking for apology from complainant in his text message. Regardless of the fact that the respondent admitted that he kissed the complainant but the Court held that this was not accompanied by malice because the respondent immediately asked for forgiveness after sensing the annoyance of the respondent after texting him. Thus the Court held that this is not grossly immoral nor highly reprehensible which will warrant disbarment or suspension. But the Court reprimanded respondent to be more prudent and cautious. Josefina Mortel vs Anacleto Aspiras On August 14, 2012 100 Phil 586 – Legal Ethics – Lawyer may be disbarred even if transgression is not one enumerated by law In 1952, Atty. Anacleto Aspiras introduced himself as a single man to Mortel. The latter believed it and he let Anacleto court her. Anacleto, with flowery words, promised to marry Mortel. With this promise, Mortel agreed to have carnal knowledge with him. Later, Anacleto persuaded Mortel to go to Manila so that they could marry there. Mortel complied. However, Anacleto did not secure the marriage license with Mortel, instead he let Cesar Aspiras, whom he introduced to Mortel as his nephew, secure it with Mortel. Further, in the marriage ceremony, Anacleto made Mortel believe that Cesar will be his proxy in the wedding. So it happened that Mortel married Cesar – who turned out to be Anacleto’s son, worse, Cesar was a minor. Worst still, after Cesar’s and Mortel’s marriage, Anacleto continued to cohabit and have carnal knowledge with Mortel until the latter got pregnant, and until the latter found out that Anacleto is married and he has a son, Cesar. ISSUE: Whether or not Anacleto should be disbarred. HELD: Yes. Though it may be said that Anacleto’s moral transgression did not amount to crime nor is it one of those enumerated by statute still his moral delinquency as proved by the facts as aggravated by his mockery of marriage which is an inviolable social institution and his corruption of his minor son to marry Mortel just so he could redeem his promise of marriage to Mortel - all these concur to Anacleto being unfit to continue being a member of the legal profession. The Supreme Court ordered his disbarment. Cosmos Foundry Shop Workers vs Lo Bu Facts: After Cosmos Foundry Shop was burned , Ong Ting established Century Foundry Shop where he and his family resided in the premises. After several attempts to settle a pending unfair labor practice case proved unsuccessful, Ong Ting sold all his business, including equipment and rights in the New Century Foundry Shop to his compadre Lo Bu, for Php20,000. On Jan 16, 1973, petitioner CFSWU obtained from the Court of Industrial Relations the third alias writ of execution for the satisfaction and enforcement of the judgment in its favor. Thereafter, writ was served January 17 and 18, 1973, levying on the personal properties of the Cosmos Foundry Shop or the New Century Foundry Shop for the purpose of conducting the public auction sale. Respondent Lo Bu filed an urgent motion to recall writ of execution, asserting lack of jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial Relations (CIR). The CIR, in its order dated Feb 23, 1973, denied his motion. So likewise was the motion for reconsideration. Lo Bu appealed by certiorari but the Court denied this petition in its resolution dated July 17, 1993. In the meanwhile, there was a replevin suit by Lo Bu in the Court of First Instance (CFI) Manila covering the same properties. Upon receipt of order from the Court denying certiorari, petitioner Labor Union filed a second motion to dismiss complaint. After the complaint was dismissed by the lower court, decision was elevated to the Court of Appeals. Issues: (1) Whether or not petitioner Labor union has made out a case for certiorari and prohibition. (2) Whether or not counsel Atty Busmente performed his obligation as an officer of the court while sustaining the dignity of the profession while acting as counsel for Lo Bu. Held: Writ of certiorari is granted and the order of Respondent CA reinstating appeal is nullified and set aside. The writ of prohibition is likewise granted, respondent CA being perpetually restrained from taking any further action in such appeal, except that of dismissing it. Courts should dismiss a suit which has all the earmarks of a subterfuge that was resorted to for the purpose of frustrating the execution of a judgment in an unfair labor controversy. There was a replevin suit by the same vendee in bad faith, Lo Bu, which was dismissed by the CFI Manila. What is worse, private respondent Lo Bu certainly cannot plead ignorance , as he himself was the petitioner in the certiorari proceedings before this Court. He was a prinicipal in the nefarious scheme to frustrate the award in favor of the petitioner labor union. Rule that certiorari will not be granted where petitioners have plain and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law will not be enforced where it would result in further delay in satisfaction of judgment that ought to have been enforced years ago. It is about time that a halt be called to the schemes utilized by respondent Lo Bu in his far-fromcommendable efforts to defeat labor’s just claim. A legal counsel is expected to defend a client’s cause but not at the expense of truth and in defiance of the clear purpose of labor laws. For even such case, Atty Busmente had not exculpated himself. He ought to remember that his obligation as an officer of the court, no less than the dignity of the profession, requires that should not act like an errand-boy at the beck and call of his client, ready and eager to do his every bidding. If he fails to keep that admonition in mind, then he puts into serious question his good standing in the bar. Samar Mining Company vs Francisco Arnado On September 17, 2012 24 SCRA 402 – Legal Ethics – Duty to Assist in the Administration of Justice In 1958, Rufino Abuyen won a labor case against Samar Mining Company. Abuyen was awarded compensation plus hospitalization expenses for a disease he incurred while working for Samar Mining. The decision was rendered by Pompeyo Tan, a labor lawyer duly appointed by Francisco Arnado, a regional administrator of the Department of Labor. In 1961, Samar Mining’s lawyer, Atty. Benedicto Arcinas, filed an action for certiorari before CFI Cebu contending that Tan has no authority or jurisdiction over said case because he was a “mere labor lawyer” who had no authority to render the award being complained of. CFI Cebu dismissed the petition of Arcinas. Meanwhile, in the same year, the Supreme Court made a ruling in the case of Caltex v. Villanueva (L-15658, August 21, 1961) that duly appointed hearing officers by regional administrators of the labor department may issue awards. Notwithstanding this ruling, Arcinas still filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. ISSUE: Whether or not the appeal has merit. HELD: No. It is obvious that the purpose of the filing is just to delay and prolong the litigation in the hope of “draining the resources of the poorer party” “and of compelling it to submit out of sheer exhaustion.” The conduct of Atty. Arcinas is hardly compatible with the duty of the Bar to assist in the Administration of Justice, not to obstruct or defeat the same. The Supreme Court ordered Samar Mining and Atty. Arcinas to shoulder the litigation costs of this case jointly and severally. In Re: Luis Tagorda On July 4, 2012 53 Phil 37 – Legal Ethics – Malpractice – Solicitation of Legal Business – Advertisement in the Legal Profession – Stirring Up of Litigation In 1928, Luis Tagorda was a provincial board member of Isabela. Before his election, he campaigned that he is a lawyer and a notary public; that as a notary public he can do notarial acts such as execution of deeds of sale, etc.; that as a lawyer, he can help clients collect debts; that he offers free consultation; that he is willing to serve the poor. When he won, he wrote a letter to the barrio lieutenant of Echague, Isable advising the latter that even though he was elected as a provincial board member, he can still practice law; that he wants the lieutenant to tell the same to his people; that he is willing to receive works regarding preparations of sales contracts and affidavits etc.; that he is willing to receive land registration cases for a charge of three pesos. ISSUE: Whether or not Tagorda is guilty of malpractice. HELD: Yes. Tagorda admitted doing the foregoing acts. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well- merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of character and conduct. Solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal communications or interviews not warranted by personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interests involved, the importance of the lawyer’s position, and all other like self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are intolerable. It is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Tagorda’s liability is however mitigated by the fact that he is a young inexperienced lawyer and that he was unaware of the impropriety of his acts. So instead of being disbarred, he was suspended from the practice of law for a month.