Category Archives: Legal Ethics

NARCISO G. DULALIA v. JUDGE AFABLE E. CAJIGAL, RTC, BR. 96, QUEZON CITY, A.M. No. OCA IPI No. 10-3492-RTJ, December 4, 2013

Legal Ethics; A judge cannot be subjected to liability for any of his official acts, no matter how erroneous, as long as he acts in good faith.  To hold otherwise would be to render judicial office untenable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment.

Administrative complaints against judges cannot be pursued simultaneously with the judicial remedies accorded to parties aggrieved by the erroneous orders or judgments of the former. Administrative remedies are neither alternative to judicial review nor do they cumulate thereto, where such review is still available to the aggrieved parties and the cases have not yet been resolved with finality. In the instant case, complainant had in fact availed of the remedy of a motion for reconsideration prior to his filing of the administrative complaint.

Undue delay. The rules and jurisprudence are clear on the matter of delay.  Failure to decide cases and other matters within the reglementary period constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanction against the erring magistrate.9The penalty to be imposed on the judge varies depending on the attending circumstances of the case.  In deciding the penalty to be imposed, the Court takes into consideration, among others, the period of delay, damage suffered by the parties as a result of the delay; complexity of the case; number of years the judge has been in the service; the health and age of the judge; and the case load of the court presided over by the judge.

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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.

Full text here.