Friday, February 03, 2012

Spouses Tejada vs. PALAÑA, A.C. No. 7434, August 23, 2007 

Facts: Petitioners-spouses Rosita and Amador Tejada filed a Complaint Affidavit before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to initiate disbarment proceedings against respondent Atty. Antoniutti K. Palaña for his continued refusal to settle his long overdue loan obligation to the complainants, in violation of his sworn duty as a lawyer to do justice to every man and violations of the code of Professional Responsibility.

Sometime on January, 2001, respondent lawyer Antoniutti K. Palana taking advantage of his special knowledge as a lawyer represented to the petitioners that he has an alleged parcel of land and that he needs an amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) so that he could reconstitute the torrens title on the same. Respondent then induced by sweet promises and assurances petitioners spouses to finance such undertaking with a solemn commitment on his part that after he has already reconstituted such torrens title, he will deliver the same to the petitioners spouses as security for the amount they had financed and which was evidenced in writing by the parties. However, after respondent lawyer, Antoniutti K. Palana had gotten the P100,000.00 amount from the petitioner spouses, respondent from that time on up to the present had intentionally evaded the performance of his due, just, legal and demandable obligations to petitioner spouses.

Legal demands had already been made to respondent lawyer to fulfill all his moral and legal responsibilities to petitioner spouses but all of said demands simply went unheeded. Despite due notice, respondent failed to file his answer to the complaint as required by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP. Respondent likewise failed to appear on the scheduled date of the mandatory conference despite due notice.

Issue: Whether the respondent has violated the Code of Professional Responsibility due to continued refusal to settle his obligation to the complainants and for his failure to participate in the proceedings before the Commission of Bar Discipline.

Held: YES. Respondent, like all other members of the bar, is expected to always live up to the standards embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly the following Canons, viz:

CANON 1 — A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes.

Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Rule 1.02 — A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.

CANON 7 — A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.

Rule 7.03 — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. A high sense of morality, honesty, and fair dealing is expected and required of a member of the bar. Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that “a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” The nature of the office of a lawyer requires that s/he shall be of good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to the admission to the legal profession, but its continued possession is essential to maintain one’s good standing in the profession. Indeed, the strength of the legal profession lies in the dignity and integrity of its members.

In the instant case, respondent’s unjustified withholding of petitioners’ money years after it became due and demandable demonstrates his lack of integrity and fairness, and this is further highlighted by his lack of regard for the charges brought against him. Instead of meeting the charges head on, respondent did not bother to file an answer nor did he participate in the proceedings to offer a valid explanation for his conduct.

The Court has emphatically stated that when the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that s/he denies the charges against him; s/he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him/her. S/he must show proof that s/he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of him/her.

Finally, respondent’s acts, which violated the Lawyer's Oath “to delay no man for money or malice” as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility, warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanctions against him.

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1 comments: on "Spouses Tejada vs. PALAÑA, A.C. No. 7434, August 23, 2007 "

Drug Possession Lawyer Toronto said...

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