Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A lawyer is an officer of the court.

BANTOLO vs. CASTILLO, Adm. Case No. 6589, December 19, 2005

“x x x.

Lawyers are particularly called upon to obey court orders and processes, and this deference is underscored by the fact that willful disregard thereof may subject the lawyer not only to punishment for contempt but to disciplinary sanctions as well.[15]  Such is the situation in the instant case.  We need not delve into the factual findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals on the contempt case against respondents. Suffice it to say that respondent lawyer’s commission of the contumacious acts have been shown and proven, and eventually punished by the lower courts. 

A lawyer is first and foremost an officer of the court.  Thus, while he owes his entire devotion to the interest and causes  of his client he must ensure that he acts within the bounds of reason and common sense, always aware that he is an instrument of truth and justice.  More importantly, as an officer of the court and its indispensable partner in the sacred task of administering justice, graver responsibility is imposed upon a lawyer than any other to uphold the integrity of the courts[16] and to show respect to its processes.  Thus, any act on his part which tends visibly to obstruct, pervert or impede and degrade the administration of justice constitutes  professional misconduct calling for the exercise of disciplinary action against him.[17]

Respondent’s defiance of the writ of execution is a brazen display of disrespect of the very system which he has sworn to support.  Likewise, his various attempts to delay and address issues inconsequential to the disbarment proceedings had necessarily caused delay, and even threatened to obstruct the investigation being conducted by the IBP.

Nevertheless, the supreme penalty of  disbarment is not proper in the instant case. The rule is that 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 the Court will not hesitate to remove an erring lawyer from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers when the evidence calls for it, it will also not disbar him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end.[18]   In the case of respondent, the Court finds that a month’s suspension from the practice of law will provide him with enough time to purge himself of his misconduct and will give him the opportunity to retrace his steps back to the virtuous path of   the legal profession.

X x x.”