Jurisprudence in Legal and Judicial Ethics

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<p>JURISPRUDENCE IN LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS</p> <p>JURISPRUDENCE IN LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICSLawyersPRACTICE OF LAW; Practice of law embraces any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, as well as legal principles, practice or procedure and calls for legal knowledge, training and experience. One is entitled to practice law if he has been duly admitted to the bar and there maintains a good standing. Acts constituting practice of law appearances in court as counsel and preparation and filing of pleadings in court.J.K. Mercado and Sons Agri. Enterprises v. Atty. De Vera, Admin Case 3066, Dec. 3, 2001.</p> <p>Same; The practice of law is a profession and not a business; Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits. The gaining of a livelihood is not a professional but a secondary consideration. Duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves. The practice of law is a noble calling in w/c emolument is a byproduct, and the highest eminence may be attained w/o making much money.Burbe v. Atty. Magulta, AC No. 99-634, June 10, 2002.</p> <p>Same; After agreeing to take up the cause of a client, a lawyer owes fidelity to both cause and client, even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in w/c duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration. Burbe v. Atty. Magulta, AC No. 99-634, June 10, 2002.</p> <p>THE LAWYER AND SOCIETY; Morality Issue: All circumstances taken together indicate that respondent was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, her relationship, clothed as it was w/ what respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. Immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. To warrant disciplinary action, such conduct must be GROSSLY IMMORAL, that is, it must be corrupt and false as to constitute criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.Ui v. Atty. Bonifacio, Adm. Case No. 3319, June 8, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Not in Good Faith; Respondent did not exercise the good faith required of a lawyer in handling the legal affairs of his client. It is evident from the records that he tried to coerce the complainant to comply w/ his letter-demand by threatening to file various charges against the latter. When the complainant did not heed his warning, he made good his threat and filed a string of criminal and administrative cases against the complainant. Respondents action is malicious as the cases he instituted against the complainant di not have any bearing or connection to the cause of his client. Clearly, the respondent violated the proscription in Canon 19, 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.Ong v. Atty. Unto, Adin Case No. 2417, Feb. 6, 2002.</p> <p>Same; Violation of Oath; In the case at bar, respondent violated his solemn oath as a lawyer not to engage in unlawful, dishonest or deceitful conduct. He maintained that the signature of the donor was genuine despite the finding of experts to the contrary. He also tried to make a mockery of the legal profession by advancing the flimsy excuse that, as a notary public, his failure to submit a copy of the document to the Clerk of Court was his secretarys fault. There is also a showing that respondent harassed the occupants of the property subject of the donation. He asked MERALCO to disconnect its services to the property, threatening law suits if his demands were not heeded. He also posted security guards to intimidate the occupants of the property. Clearly, respondents acts caused dishonor to the legal profession. A notary public who acknowledged a document that was a forgery destroys the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. He does not deserve to continue as a member of the bar.Alitagtag v. Atty. Garcia, Admin Case No. 4738, Feb. 6, 2002.</p> <p>THE LAWYER AND CLIENT; Professional Engagement; If a person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults an attorney in his professional capacity w/ the view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the professional engagement must be regarded as established. It is not essential that the client should have employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion or that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged; neither is it material that the attorney consulted, did not afterward undertake the case about w/c the consultation was had.Junio v. Atty. Grupo, Adinm Case 5020, Dec. 18, 2001.</p> <p>Same; Lawyer-Client Relationship; Lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close personal relationship between the lawyer and the complainant or the nonpayment of the former's fees. Hence, despite the fact that complainant was kumpadre of a law partner of respondent, and that respondent dispensed legal advice to complainant as a personal favor to the kumpadre, the lawyer was duty-bound to file the complaint he had agreed to prepare and had actually prepared at the soonest possible time, in order to protect the client's interest. Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to them.Burbe v. Atty. Magulta, AC No. 99-634, June 10, 2002.</p> <p>Same; Same; Once lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client, they owe fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in them. They owe entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance and the defense of the client's rights, and the exertion of their utmost learning and abilities to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from the client, save by the rules of law legally applied.Tan v. Lapak, 350 SCRA 74, Jan. 23, 2001.</p> <p>Same; Same; After agreeing to take up the cause of a client, a lawyer fidelity to both cause and client, even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. A lawyer-client relationship was established from the very first moment complainant asked respondent for legal advice regarding the formers business. To constitute professional employment, it is not essential that the client employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. It is not necessary that any retainer be paid, promised, or charged; neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward handle the case for w/c his service had been sought. Likewise, a lawyer-client relationship exists notwithstanding the close personal relationship between the lawyer and the complainant or the nonpayment of the formers fees.Burbe v. Atty. Magulta, AC No. 99-634, June 10, 2002.</p> <p>Same; Same; The absence of a written contract does not preclude a finding that there was a professional relationship w/c merits attorney's fees for professional services rendered. A written contract is not an essential element in the employment of an attorney; the contract may be express or implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent to his profession. To constitute professional employment, it is not essential that the client should have employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . . It is not necessary that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the case about w/c the consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults w/ his attorney in his professional capacity w/ the view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the professional employment must be regarded as established.Sps. Rabanal v. Atty. Tugade, AC No. 1372, June 27, 2002.</p> <p>Same; Effective Representation; A client is entitled to an effective representation. A lawyer should recognize his lack of competence or incapacity to handle a particular task and the disservice he would do his client if he undertakes or continues to undertake the task entrusted to him. If that situation occurs, he should either decline to act or obtain his clients instruction to retain, consult or collaborate w/ another lawyer to avoid any event detrimental to his clients cause.Heirs of Cristobal v. CA, GR 135959, May 11, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Act of Counsel is act of Client; Clients should suffer the consequences of the negligence, mistake or lack of competence of the counsel whom they themselves hired and had the full authority to fire at any time and replace w/ another even w/o any justifiable reason.Salva v. Court of Appeals, 304 SCRA 632 (1999).</p> <p>Same; Same; Litigants represented by counsel, should not expect that all they need to do is sit back, relax and await the outcome of their case. Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 275 SCRA 413 (1997).</p> <p>Same; Same; Exception; Where the negligence of counsel is one that is so gross, palpable, pervasive and reckless w/c is the type of negligence that deprives a party of his or her day in court. In effect does not bind the client.Producers Bank v. CA, 126620, April 17, 2002.</p> <p>Same; Simple Negligence; Counsels negligence in filing a defective notice of appeal and defective motions for reconsideration and in not elevating nor advising herein petitioner to elevate adverse orders to the higher court for review is undisputed, but it cannot be said that there was sheer absence of real effort on his part to defend his clients cause amounting to gross negligence.Gacutan-Fraile v. Domingo, GR 138518, Dec. 15, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Neglect of Duty; Neglect of legal matter entrusted to counsel. Deceiving his client that he had already filed the petition in the annulment case when in fact, the petition was only filed on a later date. For his neglect in handling the case, he promised to return half of the amount that was paid to him but he never did. Such misconduct clearly betrays the confidence reposed in him by his client.Reyes v. Javier, Admin Case No. 5574, Feb. 1, 2002.</p> <p>Same; Duty to Account Promptly; Lawyers must promptly account for money or property they receive on behalf of their clients. Failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct and justifies the imposition of disciplinary sanctions.Judge Angeles v. Atty. Uy, Adm. Case No. 5019, April 6, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Same; The highly fiduciary relation of attorney and client requires that respondent lawyer should promptly account for the funds w/c he received and help for the benefit of his client. The client has the right to know how the funds were used or disbursed by his counsel.Cunanan v. Atty. Rimorin, Ad,in Case No. CBD-98*518, Aug. 23, 2000; Basa v. Atty. Icawat, Admin Case No. 4282, Aug. 24, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Same; The lawyers right to be paid for his legal services cannot be exercised whimsically by appropriating for himself the money intended for his clients.Rivera v. Atty. Angeles, Admin Case No. 2519, Aug. 29, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Dereliction of Duty; Respondents failure to submit the brief to the appellate court w/in the reglementary period is not only a dereliction of duty to his client but also to the court as well.Torres v. Atty. Orden, Adm. Case No. 4646, April 6, 2000.</p> <p>Same; Neglect of Duty; Failure to submit the reqd brief w/in the reglementary period.In Re: Atty. Briones, Admin Case 5486, Aug. 15, 2001.</p> <p>Same; Same; Failure to file criminal complaint.Cario v. De los Reyes, Admin Case 4982, Aug. 9, 2001.</p> <p>Same; Malpractice and Gross Misconduct: A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice.Junio v. Atty. Grupo, supra.</p> <p>Same; Misconduct; The lawyer actively solicited the letter of reconsideration from complainant and later on used said letter against the interest of complainant to support the lawyers motion to dismiss the civil case revealing lack of candor and fairness in said lawyers dealings.Osop v. Atty. Fontanilla, Adimin Case 5043, Sept. 19, 2001.</p> <p>Same; Extortion; Lawyer who arrogate unto himself the mantle of a Justice of the Supreme Court for the purpose of extorting money from a party-litigant commits ultimate betrayal of his duty w/c cannot and should never be countenanced.Igoy v. Soriano, A.M. No. 2001-SC, Oct. 11, 2001.</p> <p>Same; Attorneys Fees; Two concepts of attorneys fees: (1) In the ordinary sense, it represents the reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer by his client for the legal services he has rendered; (2) In its extraordinary concept, attorneys fees may be awarded by the court as indemnity for damages to be paid by the losing party to the prevailing party. In the ordinary concept, the amount of Attys. fees due is that stipulated in the retainer agreement w/c is conclusive as to the amount thereof. In the absence of such agreement, the amount of Attys. fees is fixed on the basis of quantum meruit, i.e. the reasonable worth of his services. In determining the amount of Attys. fees, the ff. factors are considered: (1) the time spent and extent of services rendered; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; (3) the importance of the subject matter; (4) the skill demanded; (5) the probability of losing other employment as a result of the acceptance of the proffered case; (6) the amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client; (7) the certainty of compensation; (8) the character of employment; and (9) the professional standing of the lawyer.Compania Maritima v. CA, GR 128452, Nov. 16, 1999.</p> <p>Same; Attorneys Lien; A lawyer is entitled to a lien over the funds, documents and papers of his client w/c have lawfully come into his possession. Under Canon 16.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, he may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. In both case, however, it is to be assumed that the client agrees w/ the lawyer in the amount of Attys. fees. In case of disagreement on the amount claimed by the lawyer, the lawyer should not arbitrarily apply the funds in his possession to the payment of his fees; instead, it should behoove the lawyer to file, if he still deems it desirable, the necessary action or the proper motion w/ the proper court to fix the amount of his Attys. fees.J.K. Mercado and Sons v. De Vera, Adm. Case No. 3066, Oct. 26, 1999.</p> <p>Same; Conflict of Interest; When a lawyer agrees to represent the defendant and later on, also the plaintiff in the same case, he can no longer serve either o...</p>