Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Artezuela v Maderazo (Barrientos)

Facts: Echavia crashed the car he is driving which is owned by Kiyami, but was registered in the name of Villapez. The car rammed into a small carinderia owned by Artezuela. The destruction of the carinderia caused the cessation its operation, resulting to her financial dislocation. Artezuela incurred debts from her relatives and due to financial constraints, stopped sending her two children to college. Artezuela hired Maderazo in filing a damage suit against Echavia, Villapez and Kiyami. For his services, Artezuela paid Maderazo 10,000 as attorneys fees and 2,000 as filing fee. However, the case was dismissed, allegedly upon the instance of the Artezuela and her husband. Because of the dismissal of the case, Artezuela filed a civil case for damages against the Maderazo. The case was dismissed. 

Artezuela filed for disbarment against the Maderazo. Artezuela argues that Maderazo engaged in activities inimical to her interests. While acting as her counsel, Maderazo prepared Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint. The said document was even printed in Maderazo’s office. Artezuela further averred that it was Maderazo who sought the dismissal of the case, misleading the trial court into thinking that the dismissal was with her consent. Maderazo denied Artezuela’s allegations. However, he admitted that Echavia’s Answer to the Amended Complaint was printed in his office but denied having prepared the document and having acted as counsel of Echavia. 

Case was referred to IBP. IBP investigated the case. IBP found Maderazo guilty of representing conflicting interests, in violation of Canon 15 and Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well as, of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Ethics. 

Issues: 

(1) Whether Maderazo violated Canon 15 and Rule 15.03 (conflict of interest) of the Code of Professional Responsibility 

(2) Whether Maderazo had a direct hand in the preparation of Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint. 


Held: YES to both

Maderazo was actually giving advice to Echavias but he was not the counsel of record. Maderazo does not have to publicly hold himself as the counsel of the adverse party, nor make his efforts to advance the adverse party’s conflicting interests of record. It is enough that the counsel of one party had a hand in the preparation of the pleading of the other party, claiming adverse and conflicting interests with that of his original client. To require that he also be counsel-of-record of the adverse party would punish only the most obvious form of deceit and reward, with impunity, the highest form of disloyalty. 

An attorney owes his client undivided allegiance. Because of the highly fiduciary nature of the attorney-client relationship, sound public policy dictates that a lawyer be prohibited from representing conflicting interests or discharging inconsistent duties. Good faith and honest intention on the part of the erring lawyer does not make this rule inoperative. The lawyer is an officer of the court and his actions are governed by the uncompromising rules of professional ethics.

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