August 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

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

Attorney; gross discourtesy. When Milagros finally met respondent on September 30, 2008 [in order to collect on his debt to her], respondent, in the presence of several others, told her “Eh kung sabihin ko na sugar mommy kita,” adding that “Nagpapakantot ka naman sa akin.” The Court finds that respondent is indeed guilty of gross discourtesy amounting to conduct unbecoming of a court employee.  By such violation, respondent failed to live up to his oath of office as member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and violated Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The Court has consistently been reminding officials and employees of the Judiciary that their conduct or behavior is circumscribed with a heavy burden of responsibility which, at all times, should be characterized by, among other things, strict propriety and decorum. As such, they should not use abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing and improper language. Their every act or word should be marked by prudence, restraint, courtesy and dignity. Aside from violating Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, respondent appears to have also violated Rule 8.01 of the same Code. Complaints of Mrs. Milagros Lee & Samantha Lee against Atty. Gil Luisito R. Capito, A.M. No. 2008-19-SC. August 18, 2010

Attorney; mistake binding on client. A client is generally bound by the mistakes of his lawyer; otherwise, there would never be an end to a litigation as long as a new counsel could be employed, and who could then allege and show that the preceding counsel had not been sufficiently diligent or experienced or learned. The legal profession demands of a lawyer that degree of vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family; such lawyer should adopt the norm of practice expected of men of good intentions.  Moreover, a lawyer owes it to himself and to his clients to adopt an efficient and orderly system of keeping track of the developments in his cases, and should be knowledgeable of the remedies appropriate to his cases. National Tobacco Administration vs. Daniel Castillo, G.R. No. 154124,August 13, 2010.

Attorney; mistake of counsel. Granting that their counsel made a mistake in entering into such stipulations, such procedural error unfortunately bound them.  The Court has consistently held that the mistake or negligence of a counsel in the area of procedural technique binds the client unless such mistake or negligence of counsel is so gross or palpable that would require the courts to step in and accord relief to the client who suffered thereby.  Without this doctrinal rule, there would never be an end to a suit so long as a new counsel could be employed to allege and show that the prior counsel had not been sufficiently diligent, experienced, or learned. Gilbert Urma, et al. vs. Hon. Orlando Beltran, et al., G.R. No. 180836, August 8, 2010.

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June 2009 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Remedial Law, Legal/Judicial Ethics and Criminal Law

Here are selected June 2009 Philippine Supreme Court decisions on  remedial law, legal/judicial ethics and criminal law.

Remedial Law

Actions;  quasi in rem. The petition for cancellation of entries annotated at the back of OCT No. 40287 ought to have been directed against specific persons: namely, the heirs of Juan Soriano as appearing in Entry No. 20102 and, indubitably, against their successors-in-interest who have acquired different portions of the property over the years because it is in the nature of an action quasi in rem. Accordingly, the Salazars should have impleaded as party defendants the heirs of Juan Soriano and/or Vicenta Macaraeg as well as those claiming ownership over the property under their names because they are indispensable parties. This was not done in this case. Since no indispensable party was  ever impleaded by the Salazars in their petition for cancellation of entry filed before Branch 63 of the RTC of Tarlac, herein petitioners are not bound by the dispositions of the said court. Consequently, the judgment or order of the said court never even acquired finality. Zenaida Acosta, et al. vs. Trinidad Salazar, et al., G.R. No. 161034.  June 30, 2009

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