Lawyer’s duty to courts

a. Candor, fairness, and good faith towards the courts

Canon 10: A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the Court.

1) Candor, fairness, good faith

Candor towards the courts is a cardinal requirement of the practicing lawyer. In fact, this obligation to the bench for candor and honesty takes precedence. (Macias v. Selda, A.C. No. 6442, 21 October 2004)

The foregoing ordain ethical norms that bind all attorneys, as officers of the Court, to act with the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. (De Leon v. Castelo, A.C. No. 8620, 12 January 2011)

Where a lawyer said one thing in his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for Private Protestee and another in his subsequent affidavit is a transgression of this imperative which necessitates appropriate punishment. (Macias v. Selda, supra.)

Respondent-lawyer filed five (5) manifestations before the COC praying for affirmative reliefs. These “manifestations” were in fact motions, since reliefs were prayed for from the court – particularly, the issuance of the writ of execution pending appeal. By labelling them as manifestations, respondent craftily sidestepped the requirement of a notice of hearing and deprived the other party of an opportunity to oppose his arguments. Moreover, the fact that he submitted these manifestations directly to COC, instead of properly filing them before the RTC, highlights his failure to exhibit fairness towards the other party by keeping the latter completely unaware of his manifestations. Undoubtedly, respondent violated his professional obligations under the CPR. (Festin v. Zubiri, A.C. No. 11600, 19 June 2017)

Respondent-lawyer made it appear that he was entering his appearance as counsel for all the heirs of Sarmiento which was highly unfair to complainant who had worked on the case from the very beginning (i.e. since 1996) and who had not been discharged as such. It is true that without the formal withdrawal of complainant as counsel of record, respondent would merely be considered as collaborating counsel. Nevertheless, by being less than candid about whom he was representing, respondent undeniably encroached upon the legal functions of complainant as the counsel of record. (Garcia v. Lopez, A.C. No. 6422, 28 August 2007)

Rule 10.01: A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
Rule 10.02: A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of a paper, the language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or knowingly cite as law a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.

1) Never mislead the courts

Misquoting or intercalating phrases in the text of a court decision constitutes willful disregard of the lawyer’s solemn duty to act at all times in manner consistent with the truth. A lawyer should never venture to mislead the court by false statements or quotations of facts or laws. Thus, in Bautista v. Gonzales, the Supreme Court suspended respondent for six (6) months for, among other submitting to the lower court falsified documents, representing them to the true copies. In Chavez v. Viola, the Supreme Court suspended respondent counsel for five (5) months after he filed an Amended Application for Original Registration of Title which contained false statements. (Adez Realty, Incorporated v. CA, En Banc, G.R. No. 100643, 30 October 1992.)

Where a respondent-lawyer intercalated a material fact in the judgment of the court a quo thereby altering and modifying its factual findings with the apparent purpose of misleading this Court in order to obtain a favorable judgment, and thus failing to live up to the standards expected of a member of the Bar, he was disbarred. Those who attempt to misguide this Court, the last forum for appeal, should be dealt with more severely lest We be made unwilling instruments of inequity and injustice. Indeed, counsel has demonstrated his wanton disregard for truth and fairplay even before the Highest Court of the land. Worse, he compounded his unprofessional mischief by laying the blame on his hapless secretary whose duty is was simply to obey him. (Ibid.)

2) Syllabus of cases, not from Supreme Court

The syllabus of cases in official or unofficial reports of Supreme Court decisions or resolutions is not the work of the Court, nor does it state this Court’s decision. The syllabus is simply the work of the reporter who gives his understanding of the decision. The reporter writes the syllabus for the convenience of lawyers in reading the reports. A syllabus is not a part of the court’s decision. A counsel should not cite a syllabus in place of the carefully considered text in the decision of the Court. (Allied Banking Corporation v. CA, G.R. No. 144412, 18 November 2003)

3) Intent to mislead

While the Court detests respondent-lawyer’s failure to properly indicate that the statement was not a verbatim reproduction of the cited jurisprudence and, accordingly, calls his attention on the matter, it finds the admonition to be adequate. A suspension for the lone incident would be too harsh a penalty. It appeared that the supposed quotation was his own conclusion from the cited jurisprudence. There was no clear indication that the statement was intended to mislead the court or commit a falsehood; there was no brazen deviation from the principle or doctrine that was embodied in the jurisprudence’s original text. (Torres v. Dalangin, A.C. No. 10758, 05 December 2017)

4) No intent to mislead

Although he cites as docket number L-121447 instead of L-12147, the same is plainly but a slight typographical mistake not sufficient to place him in contempt, especially because the names of the parties were given correctly. (Del Rosario v. Chingcuangco, G.R. No. L-25503,17 December 1996)

Rule 10.03: A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.

1) Observe rules of procedure

Lawyers are obliged to observe the rules of procedure and not to misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. (In Re: G.R. No. 157659, Mallari v. GSIS, A.C. No. 11111, 10 January 2018)

A lawyer must never be blinded by the cause of his client at the expense of justice, even if the latter turned out to be himself. He must never overlook that as officer of the court, he is primarily called upon to assist in the administration of justice. Often designated as vanguards of our legal system, lawyers are called upon to protect and uphold truth and the rule of law. (Ibid.)

2) Avoid abuse of procedure

Filing multiple actions constitutes an abuse of the Court’s processes. It constitutes improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade justice. Those who file multiple or repetitive actions subject themselves to disciplinary action for incompetence or willful violation of their duties as attorneys to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to maintain only such actions that appear to be just and consistent with truth and honor. (Olivares v. Villalon, Jr., A.C. No. 6323, 13 April 2007)

By arguing a case that has already been rejected repeatedly, he abused his right of recourse to the courts. His acts of not conducting himself “to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity to the courts” constitute serious transgression of his professional oath. (In Re: G.R. No. 157659, Mallari v. GSIS, supra.)

a) Case Law

1) In Foronda v. Guerrrero, the respondent’s therein was suspended for two years from the practice of law for filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same subject matter in violation of Canon 12 and Rule 12.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. (Avida Land Corporation v. Argosino, A.C. No. 7437, 17 August 2016)

2) In Saladaga v. Astorga, the respondent was found guilty of (1) breach of the Lawyer’s Oath; (2) unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful conduct; and (3) disrespect for the Court and causing the undue delay of cases. For these offenses, a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for two years, as recommended by the IBP, was imposed. (Ibid.)

3) In Saa v. IBP, the petitioner was found to have violated Canon 12, Rule 12.04. and Rule 1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for delaying the resolution of a case. He was also suspended from practice of law for one year. (Ibid.)

b. Respect for courts and judicial officers

Canon 11: A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others.

1) As officers of the court

As officers of the court, lawyers are duty-bound to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and judicial officers. They are to abstain from offensive or menacing language or behavior before the court and must refrain from attributing to a judge motives that are not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case. (Alpajora v. Calayan, En Banc, A.C. No. 8208, 10 January 2018)

Lawyers are particularly called upon to obey court orders and processes, and this deference is underscored by the fact that willful disregard thereof may subject the lawyer not only to punishment for contempt but to disciplinary sanctions as well In this case, respondent deliberately ignored five CA Resolutions, thereby violating his duty to observe and maintain the respect due the courts. (Re: CA-G.R. CV No. [Sps. Bayani and Partoza v. Montano] v. Santamaria, A.C. No. 11173, 11 June 2018)

The misconduct of respondent-lawyer is aggravated by his unjustified refusal to heed the orders of the IBP requiring him to file an answer to the complaint-affidavit and, afterwards, to appear at the mandatory conference. He is justly charged with conduct unbecoming a lawyer, for a lawyer is expected to uphold the law and promote respect for legal processes. Further, a lawyer must observe and maintain respect not only to the courts, but also to judicial officers and other duly constituted authorities, including the IBP. Under Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, the Court has empowered the IBP to conduct proceedings for the disbarment, suspension, or discipline of attorneys. (Caspe v. Mejica, A.C. No. 10679, 10 March 2015)

The Supreme Court notes that it repeatedly required her to comment on complainants’ petition, but respondent ignored such commands. Similarly, when the instant case was referred to the IBP for investigation, report, and recommendation, respondent again disregarded the directives of the Investigating Commissioner to attend the mandatory conference and to submit a position paper. Such audacity on the part of respondent – which caused undue delay in the resolution of the instant administrative case – contravenes Canon 11 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the CPR. Undoubtedly, the Court’s patience has been tested to the limit by what in hindsight amounts to a lawyer’s impudence and disrespectful bent. At the minimum, members of the legal fraternity owe courts of justice respect, courtesy, and such other becoming conduct essential in the promotion of orderly, impartial, and speedy justice. What respondent-lawyer has done was the exact opposite, and hence, she must be disciplined accordingly. (Lopez v. Limos, A.C. No. 7618, 02 February 2016)

2) Insulting judges

A lawyer who insults a judge inside a courtroom completely disregards the latter’s role, stature and position in our justice system. (Baculi v. Battung, A.C. No. 8920, 28 September 2011)

When the respondent publicly berated and brazenly threatened Judge Baculi that he would file a case for gross ignorance of the law against the latter, the respondent effectively acted in a manner tending to erode the public confidence in Judge Baculi’s competence and in his ability to decide cases. Incompetence is a matter that, even if true, must be handled with sensitivity in the manner provided under the Rules of Court; an objecting or complaining lawyer cannot act in a manner that puts the courts in a bad light and bring the justice system into disrepute. (Ibid.)

Rule 11.01 A lawyer shall appear in court properly attired.
Rule 11.02 A lawyer shall punctually appear at court hearings.

1) Tardiness

Tardiness in court attendance, indeed, is to be discouraged. (Chu v. Gonzales, G.R. No. L-23687, 26 February 1968)

Justice Malcolm aptly stated that “[a]n attorney of character should make it unnecessary for a court to discipline him on account of tardy appearance.” This, however, is no license for a trial judge to summarily dismiss a case where tardiness for a very short time occasioned by excusable negligence is brought to the court’s attention. For, a judge is enjoined to be temperate and attentive, patient and impartial. He is warned that “he is not a depositary of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of the law.” (Ibid.)

The finding on Atty. Abellana’s neglect in the handling of Samonte’s case was entirely warranted. He admitted being tardy in attending the hearings of the civil case. He filed the formal offer of evidence in behalf of his client way beyond the period to do so, a fact that he could not deny because the RTC Judge had himself expressly noted the belated filing in the order issued in the case. (Samonte v. Abellana, A.C. No. 3452, 23 June 2014)

Rule 11.03: A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts.

1) Respect for the courts

It is the duty of a lawyer, as an officer of the court, to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts. Respect for the courts guarantees the stability of the judicial institution; without this guarantee, the institution would be resting on very shaky foundations. (Baculi v. Battung, supra.)

Respondent-lawyer failed to obey the trial court’s order to submit proof of his MCLE compliance notwithstanding the several opportunities given him. “Court orders are to be respected not because the judges who issue them should be respected, but because of the respect and consideration that should be extended to the judicial branch of the Government. This is absolutely essential if our Government is to be a government of laws and not of men. Respect must be had not because of the incumbents to the positions, but because of the authority that vests in them. Disrespect to judicial incumbents is disrespect to that branch the Government to which they belong, as well as to the State which has instituted the judicial system.” (Rodriguez-Manahan v. Flores, A.C. No. 8954, 13 November 2013)

2) Dignified and respectful language

Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of unnecessary language is proscribed if we are to promote high esteem in the courts and trust in judicial administration. (Ng v. Alar, A.C. No. 7252, 22 November 2006)

It must be remembered that the language vehicle does not run short of expressions which are emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. (Ibid.)

No doubt, the language contained in the 30 July 2001 motion greatly exceeded the vigor required of Jacoba to defend ably his client’s cause. We recall his use of the following words and phrases: abhorrent nullity, legal monstrosity, horrendous mistake, horrible error, boner, and an insult to the judiciary and an anachronism in the judicial process. Even Velasco-Jacoba acknowledged that the words created “a cacophonic picture of total and utter disrespect.” (Lacurom v. Jacoba, A.C. No. 5921)

3) Even in pleadings

In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer’s language even in his pleadings must be dignified. (Saberon v. Larong, A.C. No. 6567, 16 April 2008)

4) No offensive personality

On many occasions, the Court has reminded members of the Bar to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged. (Ibid.)

5) Allowed to be critical of courts or judges via legitimate channels

An attorney or any other person may be critical of the courts and their judges provided the criticism is made in respectful terms and through legitimate channels. (Habawel v. CTA, G.R. No. 174759, 07 September 2011)

Every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the actuations of public officers. This right is not diminished by the fact that the criticism is aimed at a judicial authority, or that it is articulated by a lawyer. Such right is especially recognized where the criticism concerns a concluded litigation, because then the court’s actuation are thrown open to public consumption. Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. They should and expect critical evaluation of their performance. For like the executive and the legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted in the soil of democratic society, nourished by the periodic appraisal of the citizens whom it is expected to serve. Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. (In Re: Almacen, G.R. No. L-27654, 18 February 1970)

6) Academic freedom not a defense for law educators

Academic freedom cannot be successfully invoked by respondents-lawyers who are educators. The implicit ruling in the jurisprudence is that the constitutional right to freedom of expression of members of the Bar may be circumscribed by their ethical duties as lawyers to give due respect to the courts and to uphold the public’s faith in the legal profession and the justice system. The reason that freedom of expression may be so delimited in the case of lawyers applies with greater force to the academic freedom of law professors. (Re: Letter of the UP Law Faculty, A.M. No. 10-10-4-SC, 08 March 2011)

Rule 11.04: A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case.

1) Requires proof or basis

Here, respondent-lawyer has consistently attributed unsupported imputations against the complainant-judge in his pleadings. He insisted that complainant antedated the order, dated August 15, 2008, because the envelopes where the order came from were rubber stamped as having been mailed only on August 26, 2008. He also accused the complainant judge of being in cahoots and of having deplorable close ties with the adverse counsels; and that complainant irrefutably coached said adverse counsels. However, these bare allegations are absolutely unsupported by any piece of evidence. Respondent did not present any proof to establish complainant’s alleged partiality or the antedating. The date of mailing indicated on the envelope is not the date of issue of the said order. In light of the foregoing, the Court finds respondent guilty of attributing unsupported ill-motives to complainant. (Alpajora v. Calayan, A.C. No. 8208, 10 January 2018)

Atty. Dealca maintains that Judge Madrid should have “in good grace inhibited himself” upon his motion to inhibit in order to preserve “confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. He is sanctioned for filing the motion to inhibit considering that the motion, being purely based on his personal whims, was bereft of factual and legal bases. (Madrid v. Dealca, A.C. No. 7474, 09 September 2014)

2) Demand to put on record, not misbehavior

The judge, in seizing the witness by the shoulder and turning him about, was unwarranted and an interference with that freedom from unlawful personal violence to which every witness is entitled while giving testimony in a court of justice. Against such conduct the appellant-lawyer had the right to protest and to demand that the incident be made a matter of record. That he did so was not contempt, providing protest and demand were respectfully made and with due regard for the dignity of the court. (In Re Marcelino Aguas, G.R. No. 12, 08 August 1901)

3) Prudence in filing administrative charges

The Supreme Court has already admonished lawyers to be more prudent in filing administrative charges against members of the judiciary. (Balaoing v. Calderon, A.M. RTJ-90-580, 27 April 1993)

Where a lawyer had a penchant for filing administrative charges against judges, in whose sala he has pending cases, whenever the latter render decisions or issue orders adverse to him and/or his clients, he was disbarred. Here, complainant Balaoing went out of bounds when he filed his baseless and frivolous administrative complaints against respondent Judges Calderon and Maliwanag, with no other plain and clear purpose than to harass respondent Judges, and thus, exact vengeance on them for rendering adverse judgments against him and his clients. (Ibid.)

Rule 11.05: A lawyer shall submit grievances against a Judge to the proper authorities only.

1) Supreme Court’s administrative supervision

The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof. (Section 6, Article VIII, 1987 Constitution)

2) Criminal complaint related to administrative duties

The established doctrine and policy is that disciplinary proceedings and criminal actions against judges are not complementary or suppletory of, nor a substitute for, these judicial remedies, whether ordinary or extraordinary. Resort to and exhaustion of these judicial remedies, as well as the entry of judgment in the corresponding action or proceeding, are pre-requisites for the taking of other measures against the persons of the judges concerned, whether of civil, administrative, or criminal nature. It is only after the available judicial remedies have been exhausted and the appellate tribunals have spoken with finality, that the door to an inquiry into his criminal, civil or administrative liability may be said to have opened, or closed. (Flores v. Abesamis, A.M. No. SC-96-1, 10 July 1997)

In fine, where a criminal complaint against a Judge or other court employee arises from their administrative duties, the Ombudsman must defer action on said complaint and refer the same to this Court for determination whether said Judge or court employee had acted within the scope of their administrative duties. (Maceda v. Ombudsman, G.R. No. 102781, 22 April 1993)

3) Proper authorities or channels only

Respondent-lawyer’s reckless behavior of imputing ill motives and malice to the Court’s process is plainly evident in the present case. Her public statements covered by different media organizations incontrovertibly brings the Court in a position of disrepute and disrespect, a patent transgression of the very ethics that members of the Bar are sworn to uphold. This, the Court cannot countenance. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno], A.M. No. 18-06-01-SC, 17 July 2018)

c. Assistance in the speedy and efficient administration of justice

Canon 12: A lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.

1) Speedy and efficient administration of justice

A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with utmost diligence. In failing to file the appellant’s brief on behalf of his client, respondent had fallen far short of his duties as counsel as set forth in Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which exhorts every member of the Bar not to unduly delay a case and to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. (Figueras v. Jimenez, A.C. No. 9116, 12 March 2014)

2) Filing multiple cases

In filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same subject matter, the respondent violated Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that a lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. He also violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04 of the Code, as well as a lawyer’s mandate “to delay no man for money or malice.” (Foronda v. Guerrero, A.C. No. 5469, 10 August 2004)

Rule 12.01: A lawyer shall not appear for trial unless he has adequately prepared himself on the law and the facts of his case, the evidence he will adduce and the order of its proferrence. He should also be ready with the original documents for comparison with the copies.

1) Adequate preparation required

Respondent-lawyer’s failure to present evidence is a breach of Rule 12.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, especially in the light of the numerous postponements and resettings he requested for and was granted with, on the ground that he needed more time to prepare his evidence. The respondent was first scheduled to present his evidence on December 14, 1998. Two years – five resettings, and three orders submitting the case for resolution – later, respondent still had not proffered testimonial or documentary evidence. (Espino v. Presquito, A.C. No. 4762, 28 June 2004)

Rule 12.02: A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from the same cause.

1) Rehashing same arguments in dismissed cases

The facts of this case reveal that Atty. Villalon purposely filed the second complaint. Respondent appealed the 1999 case to the Court of Appeals and subsequently to this Court. Both actions were dismissed for lack of merit, not on mere technicality. The certificate of non-forum shopping attached to the 2004 complaint disclosed that Al-Rasheed previously sued Olivares for violating their lease contract. As if such disclosure was a sufficient justification, Atty. Villalon unapologetically reproduced his 1999 arguments and assertions in the 2004 complaint. Respondent obviously knew the law and tried to go around it. This Court therefore concludes that respondent willfully violated Rule 12.02, Canon 12. (Olivares v. Villalon, A.C. No. 6323, 13 April 2007)

2) Disregarding res judicata

The filing of another action concerning the same subject matter, in violation of the doctrine of res judicata, runs contrary to Canon 12 of the CPR, which requires a lawyer to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. Respondent’s act of filing Civil Case No. 12053 (which was dismissed by the RTC on the ground of res judicata) further indicates his proclivity to muddle the issues of the case in order to delay the execution of judgment in Civil Case No. 7802. By his conduct, respondent violated not only the lawyer’s mandate “to delay no man for money or malice,” but also Rules 12.02 and 12.04 of the CPR. (In Re: Eligio P. Mallari, A.C. No. 11111, 10 January 2018)

Rule 12.03: A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.

1) Filing multiple motions for extensions

The duties transgressed by Atty. Lavadia fall under those duties to his client and to the court. This Court notes Atty. Lavadia’s propensity for filing motions for extension of time to file pleadings but failing to file the same, in violation of Rule 12.03 of the CPR. (Enriquez v. Lavadia, A.C. No. 5686, 16 June 2015)

When, after obtaining an extension of time to file comment on the complaint, respondent failed to file any and ignored this Court’s subsequent show cause order, he violated Rule 12.03. (Vaflor-Fabroa v. Paguinto, A.C. No. 6273, 15 March 2010)

A lawyer who failed to file a pre-trial brief and other pleadings, such as position papers, leading to the dismissal of the case with six months suspension, was penalized. (Conlu v. Aredonia, A.C. No. 4955, 12 September 2011)

A lawyer was penalized for inexcusable negligence, the latter having failed to file a pre-trial brief leading to the dismissal of the case and failure to prosecute in another case, and omitting to apprise complainant of the status of the two cases with assurance of his diligent attention to them. (Ibid.)

Rule 12.04: A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse Court processes.

1) Officer of the court

As an officer of the court, a lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration of justice. A lawyer should not only help attain the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct, and inexpensive adjudication of cases and prompt satisfaction of final judgments, but should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that may impede, obstruct, or prevent the realization of a speedy and efficient administration of justice. (Delos Santos v. Barbosa, A.C. No. 6681, 17 June 2015)

2) Speedy and efficient administration of justice

Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is very explicit that lawyers must exert every effort and consider it their duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. (Alcantara v. De Vera, En Banc, A.C. No. 5859, 23 November 2010)

3) Delaying executions

It is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process, like the filing of dilatory motions, repetitious litigation and frivolous appeals for the sole purpose of frustrating and delaying the execution of a judgment.. (Millare v. Montero, A.C. No. 3283, 13 July 1995)

Respondent-lawyer knowingly abused the legal process and violated orders of the HLURB Board of Regional Office with the intent of delaying the execution of judgment that had long been final and executory. That he continued to do so even if a Complaint was already filed against him proved that his acts were deliberate. (Avida Land Corporation v. Argosino, A.C. No. 7437, 17 August 2016)

4) Indiscriminate filing of pleadings and motions

Respondent-lawyer’s indiscriminate filing of pleadings, motions, civil and criminal cases, and even administrative cases against different trial court judges relating to controversies involving CEFI, in fact, runs counter to the speedy disposition of cases. It frustrates the administration of justice. It degrades the dignity and integrity of the courts. (Alpajora v. Calayan, A.C. No. 8208, 10 January 2018)

Rule 12.05: A lawyer shall refrain from talking to his witness during a break or recess in the trial, while the witness is still under examination.
Rule 12.06: A lawyer shall not knowingly assist a witness to misrepresent himself or to impersonate another.
Rule 12.07: A lawyer shall not abuse, browbeat or harass a witness nor needlessly inconvenience him.
Rule 12.08: A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client, except: (a) on formal matters, such as the mailing, authentication or custody of an instrument, and the like; or (b) on substantial matters, in cases where his testimony is essential to the ends of justice, in which event he must, during his testimony, entrust the trial of the case to another counsel.

1) Testifying in behalf of clients

GENERAL RULE: A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client. (Rule 12.08, Code of Professional Responsibility)


1) On formal matters, such as the mailing, authentication or custody of an instrument, and the like; or

2) on substantial matters, in cases where his testimony is essential to the ends of justice, in which event he must, during his testimony, entrust the trial of the case to another counsel. (Ibid.)

2) Not disqualified to be a witness

Parenthetically, under the law, a lawyer is not disqualified from being a witness, except only in certain cases pertaining to privileged communication arising from an attorney-client relationship. (Santiago v. Rafanan, A.C. No. 6252, 05 October 2004)

3) Reason for prohibition

The reason behind such rule is the difficulty posed upon lawyers by the task of dissociating their relation to their clients as witnesses from that as advocates. Witnesses are expected to tell the facts as they recall them. In contradistinction, advocates are partisans — those who actively plead and defend the cause of others. It is difficult to distinguish the fairness and impartiality of a disinterested witness from the zeal of an advocate. The question is one of propriety rather than of competency of the lawyers who testify for their clients. (Ibid.)

“Acting or appearing to act in the double capacity of lawyer and witness for the client will provoke unkind criticism and leave many people to suspect the truthfulness of the lawyer because they cannot believe the lawyer as disinterested. The people will have a plausible reason for thinking, and if their sympathies are against the lawyer’s client, they will have an opportunity, not likely to be neglected, for charging, that as a witness he fortified it with his own testimony. The testimony of the lawyer becomes doubted and is looked upon as partial and untruthful.” (Ibid.)

Thus, although the law does not forbid lawyers from being witnesses and at the same time counsels for a cause, the preference is for them to refrain from testifying as witnesses, unless they absolutely have to; and should they do so, to withdraw from active management of the case. (Ibid.)

4) On substantial matters

Paragraph (b) of Rule 12.08 contemplates a situation in which lawyers give their testimonies during the trial. In this instance, the Affidavit of respondent-lawyer was submitted during the preliminary investigation which, as such, was merely inquisitorial. Not being a trial of the case on the merits, a preliminary investigation has the oft-repeated purposes of securing innocent persons against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecutions; protecting them from open and public accusations of crime and from the trouble as well as expense and anxiety of a public trial; and protecting the State from useless and expensive prosecutions. The investigation is advisedly called preliminary, as it is yet to be followed by the trial proper. (Ibid.)

5) In criminal cases

Having undertaken the defense of the accused, respondent, as defense counsel, was thus expected to spare no effort to save his clients from a wrong conviction. He had the duty to present — by all fair and honorable means — every defense and mitigating circumstance that the law permitted, to the end that his clients would not be deprived of life, liberty or property, except by due process of law. The Affidavit executed by Atty. Rafanan was clearly necessary for the defense of his clients, since it pointed out the fact that on the alleged date and time of the incident, his clients were at his residence and could not have possibly committed the crime charged against them. Notably, in his Affidavit, complainant does not dispute the statements of respondent or suggest the falsity of its contents. (Ibid.)

d. Reliance on merits of case, not on impropriety tending to influence the courts

Canon 13: A lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his cause and refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence or gives the appearance of influencing the court.

1) Influence peddling: immoral, unethical

A lawyer that approaches a judge to try to gain influence and receive a favorable outcome for his or her client violates Canon 13 of the Code. (Dumlao v. Camacho, A.C. No. 10498, 04 September 2018)

2) Applies to all other venues

The Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits acts of influence-peddling not limited to the regular courts, but even in all other venues in the justice sector, where respect for the rule of law is at all times demanded from a member of the bar. (Vizconde v. Verano, En Banc, A.C. No. 8108, 15 July 2014)

3) Duty to administration of justice before client

The highly immoral implication of a lawyer approaching a judge – or a judge evincing a willingness – to discuss, in private, a matter related to a case pending in that judge’s sala cannot be over-emphasized. A lawyer is duty-bound to actively avoid any act that tends to influence, or may be seen to influence, the outcome of an ongoing case, lest the people’s faith in the judicial process is diluted. The primary duty of lawyers is not to their clients but to the administration of justice. To that end, their clients’ success is wholly subordinate. The conduct of a member of the bar ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest which is resorted to by the lawyer, even in the pursuit of his devotion to his client’s cause, is condemnable and unethical. (Dumlao v. Camacho, supra.)

Rule 13.01: A lawyer shall not extend extraordinary attention or hospitality to, nor seek opportunity for cultivating familiarity with Judges.

1) Writing letters to judges

The subject letters indeed indicate that respondent had previous communication with Judge Galicia regarding the preparation of the draft decisions in Civil Case Nos. 81, 83, and 88, and which he in fact prepared. Although nothing in the records would show that respondent got the trial court judge’s consent to the said preparation for a favor or consideration, the acts of respondent nevertheless amount to conduct unbecoming of a lawyer and an officer of the Court. (Lantoria v. Bunyi, A.C. No. 1769, 08 June 1992)

Rule 13.02: A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.

1) Sub judice rule

Rule 13.02 refers to the sub judice rule. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno], A.M. No. 18-06-01-SC, 17 July 2018)

Sub Judice is a Latin term which refers to matters under or before a judge or court; or matters under judicial consideration. In essence, the sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings. The restriction applies to litigants and witnesses, the public in general, and most especially to members of the Bar and the Bench. (Ibid.)

2) Contempt for violation

The sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to the judicial proceedings in order to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice. A violation of this rule may render one liable for indirect contempt under Sec. 3(d), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. (Ibid.)

For a comment to be considered as contempt of court “it must really appear” that such does impede, interfere with and embarrass the administration of justice. What is, thus, sought to be protected is the all-important duty of the court to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. The specific rationale for the sub Judice rule is that courts, in the decision of issues of fact and law should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court; and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies. (Ibid.)

3) Clear and present danger

In a contempt proceeding, there must exist a “clear and present danger” to the administration of justice for statements or utterances covered by the sub judice rule to be considered punishable under the rules of contempt. (Ibid.)

In an administrative case against a lawyer, the “clear and present danger” rule is not applicable. The Court, in this case is not geared towards protecting itself from such prejudicial comments outside of court by the exercise of its inherent contempt power. Rather, in this administrative matter, the Court is discharging its Constitutionally-mandated duty to discipline members of the Bar and judicial officers. (Ibid.)



(Question A.3, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2019 Bar Exam)

Pending resolution of a high-profile case against him, Justice K uttered, in a public forum hosted by a local Integrated Bar of the Philippines chapter, his comments on the perceived bias of the court against him, as well as on the issues raised by the complainants, his defenses, and the commentaries published by some local newsmen in relation to the case. This is only one instance of his many appearances in different gatherings of such nature in order to defend his public image.

(a) Did Justice K, in his capacity as a lawyer, commit any violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility? If so, what rule did Justice K violate? Explain. (3%)

Suggested Answer:

Yes. Answer

Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party. This is the sub judice rule. Rule

In the case at bar, Justice K as a lawyer made public statements in various public forums pertaining to a pending case against him. His comments on the bias of the court against him, on the issues raised by the complainants, his defenses, and on the commentaries published by local newsmen, all have a tendency to arouse public opinion for him and/or against the other party. Apply

Thus, Justice K committed a violation. Conclusion

(b) Arguing that he should be treated as any other ordinary litigant in the said case, may Justice K validly claim that his comments were made in a purely private capacity and hence, not subject to administrative sanction? Explain. (3%)

Suggested Answer:

No. Answer

Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Rule

In the case at bar, Justice K as a lawyer engaged in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law after violating the sub judice rule. His claim that he did so in a purely private capacity is not valid as the prohibition extends even unto a lawyer’s private life. Apply

Thus, Justice K cannot validly claim that his comments were made in a purely private capacity and hence not subject to administrative sanction. Conclusion


Rule 13.03: A lawyer shall not brook or invite interference by another branch or agency of the government in the normal course of judicial proceedings.

1) Separation of powers

Where a respondent-lawyer wrote to the Office of the President seeking to lift the suspension imposed on him, the Supreme Court reprimanded him. Since respondent has apologized for his “big mistake” and now appreciates that under the fundamental principle of separation of powers enshrined in both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, a decision of this Court may not be set aside by the President, the Court is disposed to view his misconduct and/or ignorance with liberality and will administer a reprimand with warning of severe action on any future transgressions, considering respondent’s unenviable record. (Bumanglag v. Bumanglag, A.M. No. 188, 29 November 1976)

Disclaimer: All information is for educational and general information only. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

Table of Contents

Read more

Law Articles

Void contracts – Contracts Law

1. Concept The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning: 1) Those whose cause, object or purpose is contrary to law, morals, good

Outsourcing and subcontracting agreements

1. Subcontract of Personal Data A personal information controller may subcontract or outsource the processing of personal data: Provided, that the personal information controller shall