Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lawyer suspended 6 months; influence peddling. - 8108.pdf

See - 8108.pdf

"x x x.

The way respondent conducted himself manifested a clear intent to gain special treatment and consideration from a government agency. This is precisely the type of improper behavior sought to be regulated by the codified norms for the bar. Respondent is duty-bound to actively avoid any act that tends to influence, or may be seen to influence, the outcome of an ongoing case, lest the people’s faith in the judicial process is diluted.

The primary duty of lawyers is not to their clients but to the administration of justice. To that end, their clients’ success is wholly subordinate. The conduct of a member of the bar ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest which is resorted to by the lawyer, even in the pursuit of his devotion to his client’s cause, is condemnable and unethical.22.

Rule 1.02 states: "A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system." Further, according to Rule 15.06, "a lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body.” The succeeding rule, Rule 15.07, mandates a lawyer “to impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of fairness.” 

Zeal and persistence in advancing a client’s cause must  always be within the bounds of the law.23 A self-respecting independence in the exercise of the profession is expected if an attorney is to remain a member of the bar. In the present case, we find that respondent fell short of these exacting standards. Given the import of the case, a warning is a mere slap on the wrist that would not serve as commensurate penalty for the offense.

In Sylvia Santos vs. Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya- Chua, the Court saw fit to impose a six-month suspension against a judge who likewise committed acts of influence peddling when she solicited 100,000.00 from complainant Santos when the latter asked for her help in the case of her friend Emerita Muñoz, who had a pending case with the Supreme Court, because respondent judge was a former court attorney of the high court. 24 We find that the same penalty is appropriate in the present case.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Atty. Felisberto L. Verano, Jr. is found GUILTY of violating Rules 1.02 and 15.07, in relation to Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, for which he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months effective immediately. This also serves as an emphatic WARNING that repetition of any similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be appended to the respondent’s bar records. The Court Administrator is hereby directed to inform the different courts of this suspension.

x x x."