Elderly man fined 78K for illegal practice of law

In the case of Kara-an v. Judge Lindo (A.M. No. MTJ-07-1674. June 7, 2017), Kara-an was practicing law when he appeared before various courts in Metro Manila, prepared, signed and filed pleadings before them. As he is not a member of the Philippine Bar, Kara-an had no authority to perform those acts.

In fact, there was an earlier finding of indirect contempt against Kara-an but this does not serve as a bar for once again holding him liable for indirect contempt. In Ciocon-Reer v. Lubao (A.M. OCA, I.P.I. No. 09-3210-RTJ. February 3, 2016), Kara-an was held liable for his appearance in Civil Case No. 7819, entitled "Juvy P. Ciocon-Reer, et al. v. Gaspar Mayo, et al." before the RTC of General Santos City, Branch 22. In Kara-an v. Judge Lindo, the Court found Kara-an liable for his appearances in various first and second level courts in Metro Manila.The Supreme Court discussed the proper penalty to be imposed on Kara-an. Section 7, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 7. Punishment for indirect contempt. - If the respondent is adjudged guilty of indirect contempt committed against a Regional Trial Court or a court of equivalent or higher rank, he may be punished by a fine not exceeding thirty thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months, or both. If he is adjudged guilty of contempt committed against a lower court, he may be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding one (1) month, or both, xxx.
The Court agreed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) that incarceration is no longer an option considering Kara-an's advanced age and health. Due however, to his temerity and unabashed disobedience of our earlier ruling against his scheme and our warning that more serious sanctions will be imposed in case of defiance, we adopt the OCA's recommendation of imposing a penalty of P25,000.00 for each count of Kara-an'sappearance in the RTC and P4,000.00 for each count of appearance in the MeTC.

The High Court, however, did not agree with the OCA's determination of the number of cases where Kara-an illegally practiced law. According to the OCA, Kara-an should be liable for 11 counts of indirect contempt. A reading of the OCA Memorandum dated January 14, 2014 however shows that Kara-an appeared in four RTC and nine MeTC civil cases. In two RTC cases and two MeTC cases, Kara-an is the only plaintiff and does not appear to be acting on anyone's behalf. Thus, for Kara-an's blatant, willful, shameless and repeated acts of unauthorized practice of law, he was imposed a fine of P50,000.00 for the two counts committed in the RTC and a fine of P28,000.00 for seven counts committed in the MeTC, or a total fine of P78,000.00.

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