Thursday, March 01, 2012

Saburnido vs. Madrono

Facts: Spouses Venustiano and Rosalia Saburnido filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Florante Madro Complainants allege that respondent has been harassing them by filing numerous complaints against them, in addition to committing acts of dishonesty. The cases filed were: 

1. Adm. Case No. 90-0755, for serious irregularity, filed by respondent against Venustiano Saburnido. 

2. Adm. Case No. 90-0758, for falsification, filed by respondent against Venustiano Saburnido and two others. 

3. Crim. Case No. 93-67, for evasion through negligence under Article 224 of the Revised Penal Code, filed by respondent against Venustiano Saburnido. 

4. Adm. Case No. 95-33, filed by respondent against Rosalia 

Saburnido for violation of the Omnibus Election Code. 
Previous to this case, complainants (spouses Saburnido) also filed 3 separate administrative cases against respondent, which led to the latter’s dismissal from the judiciary and forfeiture of his retirement benefits. 

SC referred this case to the IBP, the latter concluded hat complainants submitted convincing proof that respondent indeed committed acts constituting gross misconduct that warrant the imposition of administrative sanction. The IBP recommends that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one year. 

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Madrono’s act of filling multiple complaints constitute gross misconduct that will warrant the imposition of administrative sanctions. 

Held: YES. A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands all lawyers to at all times uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession. Clearly, respondent’s act of filing multiple complaints against herein complainants reflects on his fitness to be a member of the legal profession. His act evinces vindictiveness, a decidedly undesirable trait whether in a lawyer or another individual, as complainants were instrumental in respondent’s dismissal from the judiciary. We see in respondent’s tenacity in pursuing several cases against complainants not the persistence of one who has been grievously wronged but the obstinacy of one who is trying to exact revenge. 

Respondent’s action erodes rather than enhances public perception of the legal profession. It constitutes gross misconduct for which he may be suspended, following Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. 

We find that suspension from the practice of law is sufficient to discipline respondent. The supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court. While we will not hesitate to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence calls for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end. In this case, we find suspension to be a sufficient sanction against respondent. Suspension, we may add, is not primarily intended as a punishment, but as a means to protect the public and the legal profession.

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