June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected June 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attoney; grossly immoral act. Respondent’ acts of converting his secretary into a mistress; contracting two marriages with Shirley and Leny, are grossly immoral which no civilized society in the world can countenance. The subsequent detention and torture of the complainant is gross misconduct which only a beast may be able to do. In fine, by engaging himself in acts which are grossly immoral and acts which constitute gross misconduct, respondent has ceased to possess the qualifications of a lawyer. Rosario T. Mecaral vs. Atty. Danilo S. Velasquez, A.C. No. 8392, June 29, 2010.

Attorney; representation within bounds of the law. Canon 19 of the Code provides that a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law. For this reason, Rule 15.07 of the Code requires a lawyer to impress upon his client compliance with the law and principles of fairness. A lawyer must employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client. It is his duty to counsel his clients to use peaceful and lawful methods in seeking justice and refrain from doing an intentional wrong to their adversaries. Rural Bank of Calape, Inc. (RBCI), Bohol vs. Atty. James Benedict Florido, A.C. No. 5736, June 18, 2010.

Court personnel; dishonesty and falsification of public document. Dishonesty is defined as intentionally making a false statement on any material fact in securing one’s examination, appointment, or registration. Dishonesty is a serious offense which reflects a person’s character and exposes the moral decay which virtually destroys honor, virtue, and integrity. It is a malevolent act that has no place in the judiciary, as no other office in the government service exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness from an employee than a position in the judiciary. A birth certificate, being a public document, serves as prima facie evidence of filiation. The making of a false statement therein constitutes dishonesty and falsification of a public document. Anonymous vs. Emma B. Curamen, A.M. No. 08-2549. June 18, 2010.

Court personnel; gross misconduct. Pagulayan indeed committed the transgression Judge Beltran charged. What Pagulayan did is the nightmare of every decisionmaker and magistrate who is usually the last to know that somebody has used his or her name to ask for money – “para kay Fiscal o para kay Judge” as mulcters reputedly always say. Pagulayan’s misconduct, it must be stressed, brought dishonor to the administration of justice in particular and, to the public service in general. Indeed, Pagulayan failed to live up to the standards of honesty and integrity required in the public service. In the words of the Constitution, public office is a public trust and Pagulayan betrayed this trust. Under Civil Service rules, gross misconduct is a grave offense and punishable by dismissal. Judge Orlando D. Beltran vs. Vilma C. Pagulayan, Interpreter III, RTC, Branch 2, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, A.M. No. P-05-2014, June 29, 2010.

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