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Surigao Mineral Reservation Board vs. Cloribel [G.R. No. L-27072 January 9, 1970]

07 Aug

Ponente: SANCHEZ, J.

FACTS:

The first contempt proceeding arose from third motion for reconsideration signed by Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, on his behalf and purportedly for Attys. Erlito R. Uy, Graciano Regala and Associates, and Jose B. Sotto, that the petitioners, who, according to the Solicitor General and based on their submitted and signed memorandum, alleged that petitioners:

  • To have made false, ridiculous and wild statements in a desperate attempt to prejudice the courts against MacArthur International (such efforts could be accurately called “scattershot desperation”);
  • To have such a proposition is corrupt on its face and it lays bare the immoral and arrogant attitude of the petitioners, and petitioners … opportunistically change their claims and stories not only from case to case but from pleading to pleading in the same case. Atty Santiago further alleged that the Supreme Court] has overlooked the applicable law due to the misrepresentation and obfuscation of the petitioners’ counsel and

And the Supreme Court in the effect:

  • “Never has any civilized, democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick (referring to the “right to reject any and all bids”) can be used by vulturous executives to cover up and excuse losses to the public, a government agency or just plain fraud…”. Atty. Santiago also filed a motion to inhibit against Chief Justice Concepcion and Justice Castro.

The second contempt proceeding arose when respondent MacArthur, through new counsel, Atty. Juanito M. Caling who entered a special appearance for the purpose, lodged a fourth motion for reconsideration without express leave of court. Said motion reiterated previous grounds raised, and included citing the New Rules of Court Section 1 Rule 51 and that alleged injustice may cut off all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government by invoking the Hickenlooper Amendment after making it known to the World Court. Meads, for his part tried to reason out why such a distorted quotation came about — the portion left out was anyway marked by “XS” which is a common practice among lawyers. Canon 22 of the Canons of Legal Ethics reminds the lawyer to characterize his conduct with candor and fairness, and specifically states that “it is not candid nor fair for the lawyer knowingly to misquote.”.

ISSUES:

Whether or not:

a)    Atty. Vicente L. Santiago; Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto;  Graciano C. Regala; and Associates; and Atty. Erlito R. Uy; are guilty of contempt on the filed Third Motion for Reconsideration;

b)    Atty. Vicente L. Santiago; Atty. Juanito M. Caling, and Mr. Morton F. Meads are guilty of contempt on the filed Fourth Motion for Reconsideration;

HELD:

a)    For Atty. Vicente L. Santiago – YES. Fine of P1,000.00.

For Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto – YES. Fine of P100.00.

For Atty. Graciano C. Regala and Associates – NO. (Took no part)

For Atty. Erlito R. Uy – NO. (Took no part)

b)    For Atty. Vicente L. Santiago – YES. Additional fine of P1,000.00

For Atty. Juanito M. Caling – YES. Fine P200.00.

For Mr. Morton F. Meads – YES. Fine of P1,000.00.

 

RATIO:

a)    On the Third Motion for Reconsideration

The Supreme Court finds language that is not to be expected of an officer of the courts. Atty. Santiago pictures petitioners as “vulturous executives” and speaks of this [Supreme] Court as a “civilized, democratic tribunal”, but by innuendo would suggest that it is not. Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto has misbehaved, under Section 3 (a), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court; and that he too has committed, under Section 3 (d) of the same rule, improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice. Atty. Regala did not even know that his name was included as co-counsel in this case. Finally, borne out by the record is the fact that Atty. Uy was not also involved in the preparation of any of the pleadings subject of the contempt citation.

b)    On the Fourth Motion for Reconsideration

Atty. Santiago is a lawyer of record for respondent MacArthur in this case. He has not resigned from his position as such lawyer. He has control of the proceedings. Whatever steps his client takes should be within his knowledge and responsibility. Indeed, Canon 16 of the Canons of Legal Ethics should have reminded him that “[a] lawyer should use his best efforts to restrain and to prevent his clients from doing those things which the lawyer himself ought not to do, particularly with reference to their conduct towards courts, judicial officers, jurors, witnesses and suitors. If a client persists in such wrongdoing the lawyer should terminate their relation.”

Atty. Caling lifted Section 1. Rule 51, Rules of Court, out of context. He has not shown to the satisfaction of this Court that he should be exempted from the contempt charge against him. He knows that he is an officer of this Court. He admits that he has read the fourth motion for reconsideration before he signed it. While he has been dragged in only at the last minute, still it was plainly his duty to have taken care that his name should not be attached to pleadings contemptuous in character.

As to Mr. Meads, having admitted having prepared the fourth motion for reconsideration, he cannot beg off from the contempt charge against him even though he is not a lawyer.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Case Digests, Legal Ethics

 

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