CASE DIGEST: Bejarasco, Jr. vs. People

G.R. No. 159781 : February 2, 2011



The petitioner was convicted on February 16, 2001, for grave threats and grave oral defamation in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC). The RTC affirmed the convictions.

The petitioner, then represented by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), sought the reconsideration of the RTC decision, claiming that he had not filed his appeal memorandum because of the MTC’s failure to give him free copies of the transcripts of stenographic notes. He argued that the RTC’s decision should be set aside and the criminal cases against him should be dismissed due to the prematurity and the serious errors of facts and law. However, the RTC denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

The petitioner, this time represented by Atty. Luzmindo B. Besario (Atty. Besario), a private practitioner, filed in the Court of Appeals (CA) a motion for extension of time to file his petition for review. The CA granted his motion. However, instead of filing his petition for review within the period granted, Atty. Besario sought another extension, but still failed in the end to file the petition for review. The CA eventually dismissed his appeal.

ISSUE: Whether or not the counsel’s actuation constituted reckless and gross negligence that should not be binding against him

HELD: The petition lacks merit.

CIVIL LAW: Counsel’s negligence

The general rule is that a client is bound by the counsel’s acts, including even mistakes in the realm of procedural technique. The rationale for the rule is that a counsel, once retained, holds the implied authority to do all acts necessary or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and management of the suit in behalf of his client, such that any act or omission by counsel within the scope of the authority is regarded, in the eyes of the law, as the act or omission of the client himself.

A recognized exception to the rule is when the reckless or gross negligence of the counsel deprives the client of due process of law. For the exception to apply, however, the gross negligence should not be accompanied by the client’s own negligence or malice, considering that the client has the duty to be vigilant in respect of his interests by keeping himself up-to-date on the status of the case. Failing in this duty, the client should suffer whatever adverse judgment is rendered against him.

It is the client’s duty to be in contact with his lawyer from time to time in order to be informed of the progress and developments of his case; hence, to merely rely on the bare reassurances of his lawyer that everything is being taken care of is not enough. Here, the petitioner took nearly 16 months from the issuance of the entry of judgment by the CA, and almost 22 months from when the RTC affirmed the convictions before he actually filed his petition for review in the CA.

Petition is DENIED. The decision of CA is affirmed.