Thursday, March 01, 2012

Ui vs. Bonifacio

Facts: Lesli Ui filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio on the ground of immorality, for allegedly carrying an immoral relationship with Carlos Ui, her (Lesli) husband. 
In the proceeding before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, Iris attached a photocopy of a marriage certificate that said that she and Carlos got married in 1985 but according to the certificate of marriage obtained from the Hawaii State Department of Health, they were married in 1987. 

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Iris Bonifacio conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. 

Held: NO. The practice of law is a privilege. The bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar, he must also have a continued possession of good moral character. A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct , which has been defined as the conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the good and respectable members of the community. Lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with great caution. 

Iris Bonifacio was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos, clothed as it was with what she believed as a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. Immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. For such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, it must be “grossly immoral”, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree. 

A lawyer is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships but must also behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards. Her act of distancing herself on her discovery that Carlos was married proves that she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. 

On the matter of the falsified marriage certificate, it is contrary to human experience and highly improbable that she did not know the year of her marriage or she failed to check that the information on the document she attached to her Answer were correct. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts of malpractice.

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1 comments: on "Ui vs. Bonifacio"

Anonymous said...

How about conducting an annulment between husband and wife without formally informing the wife of the proceedings and not getting signatures from the wife to finalize said annulment proceedings. Annulment was done to enable the husband to marry his mistress who is a friend of Iris Bonifacio.

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