VICTORIA C. HEENAN v. ATTY. ERLINDA ESPEJO, A.C. NO. 10050, December 3, 2013

Legal Ethics; Deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned. Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their clients.  The fact that Atty. Espejo obtained the loan and issued the worthless checks in her private capacity and not as an attorney of Victoria is of no moment.  As We have held in several cases, a lawyer may be disciplined not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his profession but also for gross misconduct outside of his professional capacity. While the Court may not ordinarily discipline a lawyer for misconduct committed in his non-professional or private capacity, the Court may be justified in suspending or removing him as an attorney where his misconduct outside of the lawyer’s professional dealings is so gross in character as to show him morally unfit and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer.

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