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Digested Cases for Legal Ethics

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  #5: CAYETANO V MONSOD  Facts: Renato Cayetano now assails the appointment. He says that Monsod is not qualified to the position because hehas not been ―engaged in the practice of law for ten years‖ (requirement is provided by Consti Art. 9 -C Sec. 1(1)). Issue: W/n Monsod is qualified for the position of COMELEC chairman. Held: SC says yes. Monsod passed the bar in 1960 and had been consistently paying his professional fees. He workedin a law firm for several years after graduating but after that, had been more engaged in business and politics (fora list of his jobs, see p.238). Still, the SC said that he can still be considered as practicing law, if we consider themodern concept of the practice of law. This modern concept pertains to any act, whether in or out of court, whichrequires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. SC now says that since most of Monsod‘s jobs involved the law, even if he has not been engaged in traditionallawyering (i.e. making pleadings or appearing in court), he can still be considered as to have been engaged in thepractice of law. Dissents: on the issue that the Consti requirement pertains to habitual practice of law. The dissenters pointed out that for the past ten years, Monsod really seldom practiced law. This group believed that the Consti required that the practice of law be on a regular basis. Justice Padilla even came up with qualifications  –  habituality; compensation; application of law, legal principle, practice or procedure; and atty.-client relationship  –  to determine w/n a person has been engaged in the practice of law. #6 Donna Marie S. Aguirre vs. Edwin L. Rana(B.M. No. 1036. June 10, 2003)  Facts: Respondent Edwin L. Rana ( respondent ) was among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre ( complainant ) filed against respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Complainant charged respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation. The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a member of the Bar during the scheduled oath-taking on 22 May 2001 at the Philippine International Convention Center. However, the Court ruled that respondent could not sign the Roll of Attorneys pending the resolution of the charge against him. Thus, respondent took the lawyer's oath on the scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now. Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized practice of law and grave misconduct. Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers ( MBEC ) of Mandaon, Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan, and signed the pleading as counsel for George Bunan ( Bunan ). In his Comment, respondent admits that Bunan sought his specific assistance to represent him before the MBEC. Respondent claims that he decided to assist and advice Bunan, not as a lawyer but as a person who knows the law. Respondent admits signing the 19 May 2001 pleading that objected to the inclusion of certain votes in the canvassing. He explains, however, that he did not sign the pleading as a lawyer or represented himself as an attorney in the pleading. Issue: Whether respondent is engaged in unauthorized practice of law. Held: Yes, We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC that respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and thus does not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar. Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. However, the records show that respondent appeared as counsel fo rBunan prior to 22 May 2001, before respondent took the lawyer's oath. Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to do so. Evidence clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself counsel knowing fully well that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as counsel knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar. The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment, and even public trust since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law without a license. True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyer's oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyer's oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys/ #15: COJUANGCO v PALMA    Facts: Complainant Cojuangco was a client of Angara Concepcion Regala and Cruz Law Offices and Palma was the lawyer assigned to handle his cases. Palma's relationship with the Cojuangcos became intimate. He frequented their house and even tutored Cojuangco's 22-year old daughter Maria Luis Cojuangco. Without the knowledge of complainant Cojuangco's family, Palma married Lisa in Hongkong. It was only the next day that Palma informed complainant of such fact. Complainant was shocked, knowing fully well that Palma is a married man and has 3 children. Complainant filed with CFI a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage between respondent Palma and Lisa. CFI delared that marriage null and void. Thereafter, Cojuangco filed with the SC the instant complaint for disbarment. Meanwhile, the first division of SC issued a resolution setting aside the CFI Decision declaring the marriage null and void and remanding the case to the CFI for proper proceeding. To this date, the records fail to disclose the outcome of this case. Issue:W/n Palma should be disbarred.. .Held: YES. There is no distinction as to whether the transgression is committed in the lawyer's professional capacity or in his private life. Professional competency alone does not make a lawyer worthy member of the Bar. Good moral character is always an indispensable requirement. The truth is respondent married Lisa while he has a subsisting marriage with Elizabeth Herosisima. Therefore he exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the bar. Respondent's culpability is aggravated by the fact that Lisa was just 22 years old and was under psychological treatment for emotional immaturity. The subsequent judgment of annullment of marriage has no bearing to the instant disbarment proceeding. A disbarment case is sui generis for it is an investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers #16: Leslie Ui vs. Atty. Iris Bonifacio AC#3319 June 8, 2000 F : Leslie Ui and Carlos Ui were married on January 1971. On June 1988, Leslie confronted the respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio for the illicit affair . Respondent admitted the relationship and said that she will cut off thesaid relationship. On December 1988 Carlos and Iris had a sec ond child. On March 1989 complainant pleaded to respondent to stop their illicit relationship. On Atty Iris‘ side, she assert s that she had no knowledge of Carlos‘ previous marriage. Carlos Ui was the one  who represented himself as single during their cour  tship. She submitted her Certificate of marriage dated Oct. 1985 to court. Upon the court‘s investigation it was found out th at the marriage was in fact on Oct 1987.In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left him. Issue : Whether or not Atty Iris Bonifacio is guilty of gross immoral conduct as aground for disbarment UI v BONIFACIO FACTS   - LESLIE Ui married CARLOS and had 4 children with him - Subsquently, LESLIE found out CARLOS was having illicit relations with Atty IRIS Bonifacio and begot adaughter - CARLOS admitted this relationship with LESLIE who confronted IRIS - IRIS told LESLIE everything was over between her and CARLOS - However, LESLIE found out later the illicit relations continued and IRIS even had 2 nd  child with CARLOS - LESLIE filed a complaint for disbarment against IRIS on ground of immorality - Met CARLOS who represented himself as a bachelor with children by a Chinese woman with whom he had long been estranged - CARLOS and IRIS got married in Hawaii - Upon return to Manila, they did not live together because CARLOS wanted his children with the Chinese woman to gradually know and accept his marriage with IRIS - When IRIS knew about the 1 st  marriage, she cut all ties with him  Answer to impress upon the IBP that her 1 st  child by CARLOS was within wedlock - IRIS indicated in Answer she got married to CARLOS in Oct 22, 1985 - However, Certificate of Marriage certified by State Registrar revealed that date of marriage was actuallyOct 22, 1987 ISSUE: W/N IRIS SHOULD BE DISBARRED HELD NO RATIO  Immorality must be continuous was imprudent in her personal affairs together as husband and wife, children by another woman, etc) but she did not do anything about it  ver, the fact remains that IRIS‘ relationship with CARLOS was clothed with marriage and cannot be  considered immoral constitute a criminal act or moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the community flaunting the law False allegation Moreover, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment to her pleading especially in this case since IRIS had personal knowledge of facts stated therein #17: IN RE TAGORDA  Facts: provincial board of Isabela. to the last election, he used placards which in a way was advertising his services as a lawyer and notary public He also wrote a letter to a lieutenant of a barrio in Echague,Isabela. In essence he was informing the lieutenant tthat he will be in Echague during the weekends and the lieutenant should convey this information to the other people in his town. Issue: Held: Yes, Tagorda is in a way advertising his services and this is contrary to the Canons of Professional Ethics (wala pa yung code of professional responsibility, 1929 case to) -merited reputation for professional capacity. Solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal communications or interviews notwarranted by personal relations, is unprofessional. esults in needless litigations and in incenting to strife. Tagorda suspended for a month. #18: ULEP V LEGAL CLINIC  FACTS: prays the Supreme Court to order the Legal Clinic to cease, issuing advertisement similar to or of the sametenor as that of annexes A and B (p381). Legal Clinic admits the facts of publication of said advertisement thatclaims that it is not engage in the practice of law but in the rendering of legal support services through paralegalswith the use of modern computers and electronic machine. ISSUE: n properly be the subject of the advertisement complained of. HELD: rvices and legal services, common sense would readily dictate that the same are essentially without substantial distinction. The use of the name the Legal Clinic gives the impression that the respondent corporation is being managed by lawyers and that it renders legal services. The advertisement in question is meant to induce the performance of acts contrary to law, morals, public order and public policy. This is in violation of Canon 1 Rule 1.02 that is counseling illegal activities. ion of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience. Applying the case Cayetano vs. Monsod, the court agrees that the activities of the respondent Legal Clinic constitute the practice of law. Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact that respondent does not represent clients in court since law practice is not limited merely to court appearances. lawyer, in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, and objective information or statement of facts. The proscription against advertising of legal services rests on the fundamental postulate that the practice of law is a profession. 1.   Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by thecanon 2.   Ordinary, simple professional card. The card may contain only the statement of his name, the law firm,address and branch of law practiced.  dering that Atty. Nogales who is the prime incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of the legal clinic is a member of the Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded with a warning that the repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely. Ulep vs Legal Clinic June 17, 1993 Facts: Petitioner prays that respondent cease and desist from issuing ads similar to annexes A and B and to prohibit them from making ads pertaining to theexercise of the law professions other than those allowed by law - Annex A SECRET MARRIAGE? P560 for a valid marriage Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE. ANNULMENT. VISA. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC. Pls call: 5210767, 5217232, 5222041 8:30am-6pm7F Victoria Bldg, UN Ave, Mla - Annex B GUAM DIVORCED ON PARKINSON  An Atty in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce thru the Leg Clinic beg Mon-Fri during office hours Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Probs, Visaext. Quota/Non- quota Res and Special Retiree‘s Visa.Declar  ation of  Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees.Adoption. Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for FilipinaSp/Shil. Call Marivic THE LEGAL CLINIC, etc Petitioner‘s Claim: -Ads are unethical and demeaning of the law profession and destructive of the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar.-As a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and offended by the ads Respondent‘s Comment:-They are not engaged in the practice of law but in the rendering of leg support services thru paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic machines- Even if they are leg services, the act of advertising them should be allowed under Bates v. State bar of Arizona Issues: 1. WON the services offered by The Legal Clinic constitutes practice of law? 2. WON their services can be advertised? Held: 1. Yes. The Practice of law involves any activity, in or out of the court, which requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and expertise - To engage in the practice is to perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession; to give advice or render any kind of service that involves legal knowledge/skill - Not limited to the conduct of cases in court; includes legal advice and counsel and preparation of legal instruments and contracts by which legal rights are secured regardless of WON they‘re pending in court  3 types of legal profession activity: 1. legal advice and instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations 2. preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not possessed by ordinary layman 3. appearance for clients before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine rights of life, liberty and property according to law, in order to assist in proper inter and enforcement of law. Respondent‘s  description of its services shows it falls within the practice of law: Giving info by paralegals to laymen and lawyers thru the use of comps and modern info tech- computerized legal research, document search, evidence gathering, locating parties/witnesses to a case, fact finding investigations, assistance to laymen in need of services from agencies like birth, marriage, prop, bus registrations, etc.*even if some of the services offered merely involve mechanical and technical knowhow like installing computer system for law offices, this doesn‘t  make it an exception to the general rule- gives out leg info to laymen and lawyers not non-advisory and non-diagnostic ex. foreign laws on marriage, divorce and adoption  –  have to explain to client the intricacies of the law and advise him on the proper course of action- what its ads represent and what it will be paid for- It doesn‘t  matter that they don‘t  represent clients in court since practice of law isn‘t  limited to ct appearances but also leg research, leg advice and drafting contracts Phil Star Art  –  Rx for Leg Probs, int by proprietor Atty Nogales:- Takes care of probs as complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic sit- lawyers, who like drs, are specialists in various fields and can take care of it (taxation, crim law, medico-leg probs, labor, litigation, fam law) - backed up by paralegals, counselors and attys- caters to clients who can‘t  afford big firms- can prepare a simple deed of sale or affidavit of loss and also those w/ more extensive treatment -The fact that they employ paralegals to carry out its services doesn‘t  matter; what‘s  important is that it‘s  engaged in the practice of law ‗cause  of the nature of the services it renders, which brings it within the statutory prohibitions against ads only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar and who‘s  in good and regular standing is entitled to the practice of law - public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character to protect the public, court,client and bar from incompetence/dishonesty of those unlicensed to the practice and not subject to the discipline of court 2.No. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer, in making known his legal services, shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective info/statement of facts
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