Lawyer's unethical, improper acts; suspension penalty

Under Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, lawyers should uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for the law and legal processes.Specifically, Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 states that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Rule 1.03 also provides that "[a] lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any man's cause."

Rule 12.04 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility likewise states that "[a] lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse Court processes."

As an officer of the court, a lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration of justice.[1] A lawyer should not only help attain the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct, and inexpensive adjudication of cases and prompt satisfaction of final judgments, but should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that may impede, obstruct, or prevent the realization of a speedy and efficient administration of justice.[2]

In the case of De Los Santos II v. Atty. Barbosa [3], in disregard of the METC's intent to expedite the proceedings through its Order of October 19, 2004, the respondent sent letters to the Office of the Civil Registrar of Quezon City, the National Census and Statistics Office, and St. Luke's Hospital to prevent the prosecution from obtaining a certified true copy of the birth certificate of Victor Canaco Delos Santos. The preliminary conference of May 24, 2004 was precisely postponed to allow the prosecution to secure this certified true copy. Thus, the respondent committed willful disobedience to a lawful order of the court intended to avoid any further delay of the proceedings in the criminal case.

For clearly falling short of the standards set by the Code of Professional Responsibility, the [Supreme] Court finds that the appropriate penalty should be a suspension from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year as originally recommended by the Investigating Commissioner. 

[1] Prieto v. Corpus, A.C. No. 6517, December 6, 2006.
[2] Agustin v. Empleo, 519 Phil. 85, 90-91 (2006).
[3] A.C. No. 6681, June 17, 2015.

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