March 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are select March 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; lifting of indefinite suspension. Professional misconduct involving the misuse of constitutional provisions for the purpose of insulting Members of the Supreme Court is a serious breach of the rigid standards that a member of good standing of the legal profession must faithfully comply with. Thus, the penalty of indefinite suspension was imposed. However, in the past two years during which Atty. Lozano has been suspended, he has repeatedly expressed his willingness to admit his error, to observe the rules and standards in the practice of law, and to serve the ends of justice if he should be reinstated.  And in these two years, this Court has not been informed of any act that would indicate that Atty. Lozano had acted in any unscrupulous practices unsuitable to a member of the bar. While the Court will not hesitate to discipline its erring officers, it will not prolong a penalty after it has been shown that the purpose for imposing it had already been served. Re: subpoena Duces Tecum dated January 11, 2010 of Acting Director Aleu A. Amante, PIAB-C, Office of the Ombudsman/Re: Order of the Office of the Ombudsman referring the complaint of Attys. Oliver O. Lozano & Evangeline J. Lozano-Endriano against Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno(ret.). A.M. No. 10-1-13-SC & A.M. NO. 10-9-9-SC, March 20, 2012.

Court personnel; administrative case; quantum of evidence. The Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service govern the conduct of disciplinary and non-disciplinary proceedings in administrative cases. In Section 3, it provides that, “Administrative investigations shall be conducted without necessarily adhering strictly to the technical rules of procedure and evidence applicable to judicial proceedings.”

The weight of evidence required in administrative investigations is substantial evidence. For these reasons, only substantial evidence is required to find Malunao guilty of the administrative offense charged against her. In the hierarchy of evidentiary values, substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable man might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion, is the lowest standard of proof provided under the Rules of Court. In assessing whether there is substantial evidence in administrative investigations such as this case, the Court is not bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence. Dela Cruz’s Sinumpaang Salaysay, the joint affidavit of arrest executed by the NBI agents, the Booking Sheet and Arrest Report, photocopy of the marked money, the Complaint Sheet, and the photographs of Malunao entering Dela Cruz’s house, and the contents of Malunao’s bag after receipt of the money, all prove by subsantial evidence the guilt of Malunao for the offense of grave misconduct. Sheryll C. Dela Cruz vs. Pamela P. Malunao, Clerk III, RTC, Branch 28, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. A.M. No. P-11-2019, March 20, 2012.

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