Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leda vs. Tabang [A.C. No. 2505, February 21, 1992]

Facts: Complainant Evangeline Leda and Respondent Atty. Trebonian Tabang contracted marriage performed under Article 76 of the Civil Code as one of exceptional character. The parties agreed to keep the fact of marriage a secret until after Respondent had finished his law studies and had taken the Bar examinations, allegedly to ensure a stable future for them. Complainant admits, though, that they had not lived together as husband and wife. Complainant, thereafter, filed a Petition for Disbarment against respondent alleging, among others, for having misrepresented himself as single when in truth he is already married in his application to take the bar exam and for being not of good moral character contrary to the certification he submitted to the Supreme Court. Respondent averred that he and Complainant had covenanted not to disclose the marriage for the reason that said marriage was void from the beginning in the absence of the requisites of Article 76 of the Civil Code thus he could not have abandoned Complainant because they had never lived together as husband and wife and that when he applied for the 1981 Bar examinations, he honestly believed that in the eyes of the law, he was single. 

Issue: Whether or not Respondent lacks of good moral character and violated the Code of Professional Responsibility 

Held: Yes, Respondent's lack of good moral character is only too evident. He has resorted to conflicting submissions before this Court to suit himself. He has also engaged in devious tactics with Complainant in order to serve his purpose. In so doing, he has violated Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court" as well as Rule 1001 thereof which states that "a lawyer should do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the court to be misled by any artifice." Courts are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and pleading before them. Respondent, through his actuations, has been lacking in the candor required of him not only as a member of the Bar but also as an officer of the Court. Hence, respondent is subjected to suspension from the practice of law until further Orders.

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