Monday, February 20, 2012

Gonzales and Pantanosas vs. Sabacajan, [A.C. No. 4380. October 13, 1995.]

Facts: Sometime in October, 1994, complainants were informed by the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City that the complainants' owner's duplicate of title covering their lands were entrusted to the office secretary of the respondent who in turn entrusted the same to respondent. 

Respondent admitted and confirmed to the complainants that their titles are in his custody and has even shown the same to the complainant Salud B. Pantanosas but when demanded (sic) to deliver the said titles to the complainant in a formal demand letter, respondent refused and continues to refuse without any justification to give their titles and when confronted, respondent challenged the complainants to file any case in any court even in the Honorable Supreme Court. 

Respondent's dare or challenge, is a manifestation of his arrogance taking undue advantage of his legal profession over the simplicity, innocence and ignorance of the complainants, one of whom is his blood relative, his aunt, for which complainants shudder with mental anguish. 

Due to his challenge, the complainants sent a letter to the Honorable Supreme Court for enlightenment, for which the Honorable Supreme Court required 19 legible copies of a verified complaint. 

In spite of repeated demands, requests and pleas towards respondent, respondent still faill(ed) and stubbornly refused without justification to surrender the said titles to the rightful owners, the complainants herein, which act is tantamount to wilful and malicious defiance of legal and moral obligations emanating from his professional capacity as a lawyer who had sworn to uphold law and justice, to the prejudice and damage of the complainants. 

Issue: Whether or not the respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility. 

Held: The Court accordingly finds that respondent has not exercised the good faith and diligence required of lawyers in handling the legal affairs of their clients. If complainants did have the alleged monetary obligations to his client, that does not warrant his summarily confiscating their certificates of title since there is no showing in the records that the same were given as collaterals to secure the payment of a debt. Neither is there any intimation that there is a court order authorizing him to take and retain custody of said certificates of title. 

Apparently, respondent has disregarded Canon 15, Rule 15.07 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall impress upon his client the need for compliance with the laws and principles of fairness. Instead, he unjustly refused to give to complainants their certificates of titles supposedly to enforce payment of their alleged financial obligations to his client and presumably to impress the latter of his power to do so. 

Canon 19, Rule 19.01 ordains that a lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present unfounded charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding. Respondent has closely skirted this proscription, if he has not in fact transgressed the same.

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