Disciplinary proceedings as  means of  protecting the administration of justice

By: ATTY. DENNIS GORECHO - Columnist/CDN Digital | April 25,2023 - 09:00 AM

The new Lawyer’s Oath mandates that a member of the bar “shall do no falsehood nor shall pervert the law to unjustly favor or prejudice anyone” and “shall faithfully discharge the duties and responsibilities to the best of ability, with integrity and utmost civility.”

This should be a reminder to the 3,992 law graduates who successfully passed the 2022 Bar exams that the profession is a privilege burdened with conditions bestowed by law through the Supreme Court.

Bar membership may be withdrawn due to the lawyer’s lack of essential qualifications including honesty, fidelity, and integrity as enshrined in the lawyer’s oath.

The results of the November 2022 Bar Exams were released last April 14, 2023 where successful examinees comprise 43.47 percent of 9,183 takers.

Ultimately, being a good lawyer is a different thing as passing the bar is not enough. It is never the measure of the decency, honesty, integrity and intelligence of a lawyer.

The Supreme Court issued last January five decisions on disciplinary proceedings filed against lawyers, of whom three were disbarred from practice while the other two were suspended.

Disciplinary proceedings are means of protecting the administration of justice by requiring those who carry out important function in the judicial system to be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.

The primary purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect the public, to foster public confidence in the Bar, to preserve the integrity of the profession, and to deter other lawyers from similar misconduct.

Erring lawyers may be penalized either by suspension or disbarment for any violation of the oath, a patent disregard of one’s  duties, or an odious deportment unbecoming of an attorney. Disbarment is imposed where the misconduct and unrepentant demeanor shows a serious flaw in his character and the outright defiance of established norms.

In Artates vs Atty. Meinrado Enrique Bello (A.C. No. 13466 January 11, 2023), the lawyer was given a six month suspension after he failed to inform complainant of the unfavorable decision issued by the Labor Arbiter. His negligence caused material damage to complainant as she was precluded from perfecting her appeal before the National Labor Relations Commission.

In Dayos vs  Atty. Grace Buri (A.C. No. 13504 January 31, 2023), the lawyer was disbarred on her third disciplinary proceedings as the Court noted “her penchant for violating the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility” and “her cold indifference to the values a lawyer ought to live by as a requisite for her continued membership in the Bar“.

In her first case, Buri refused to pay her monetary obligation of P200,000.00, representing the balance of the purchase price of the condominium unit she bought from the vendor and whom she even threatened with criminal cases for demanding payment from her.

In her second case, Buri failed to file the petition for nullity of marriage despite receipt of the amount of P188,000 as professional fees.

In her third case, Buri failed to file the appeal as agreed upon despite her receipt of the amount representing the appeal bond.

In Jumalon vs. Atty. Elmer dela Rosa (A.C. No. 9288 January 31, 2023), a disbarred lawyer sold the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program-awarded property received by the complainant’s deceased husband without their knowledge. 

He also failed  to account all the money and property and keep the clients’ funds separate and apart from those of his own. He  was adjudged to be ineligible for judicial clemency.

The Court reminds the members of the Bar that once they take up the cause of their clients, they are duty bound to serve these clients with competence, and to attend to their cause with diligence, care, and  devotion regardless of whether the lawyers accepted the cases for a fee or for free.

A lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral fiber, which are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar, but are likewise essential demands for his or her continued membership in it.

Of the 2022 bar exam top 30, eleven were from University of the Philippines (UP). Among the group of biggest schools or those with over 100 takers, ADMU had the highest passing rate at 96.74 percent, followed by San Beda at 96.67 percent, UP at 94.27 percent, USC at 91.43 percent, and the University of Santo Tomas  at 78.09 percent.

The highest passing rate was the 1954 Bar, where 75.17 percent passed.

The lowest was in 1999 with 16.59 percent with a total number of 660 successful examinees. My bar buddy and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay was the topnotcher.

Lawyers, as professionals, are expected to uphold the ethical and moral values that are said to be essential to the fabric that holds society together.

(Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)

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TAGS: Bar exams, lawyers, Supreme Court
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