Home of ChanRobles Virtual Law Library

 

Home of Chan Robles Virtual Law Library

www.chanrobles.com

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[Special proceeding March 17, 1914. ]

In the matter of the disbarment of EUGENIO DE LARA, attorney and counselor at law.

Respondent in his own behalf.

Attorney-General Villamor for the Government.

SYLLABUS


1. ATTORNEY AND CLIENT; MALPRACTICE. — In proceeding to remove him from the office of notary public, an attorney who testified falsely concerning facts material to said investigation, and did so deliberately, willfully, and corruptly; and who, is support of said false testimony, produced in his own defense a false affidavit of a third person which he included as evidence, knowing it to be false, is guilty of malpractice, as defined by section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and of a violation of his oath of office, as set forth in section 18 thereof.


D E C I S I O N


PER CURIAM:


On or about the 29th day of April 1912, the following instrument, executed before Eugenio de Lara, a notary public, on the 21st day of February, 1912, came into the possession of the prosecuting attorney of the city of Manila, Honorable W. H. Bishop:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Know all men by these presents: That we, Cirilio San Pedro and Petronilla Trias, both of lawful age and residents of the city of Manila, P.I., solemnly state and declare:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. That the said Cirilio San Pedro states and premises that he will legally marry the said Petronilla Trias within 30 days following the death his wife, to whom he is at present married.

"2. That the said Petronilla Trias also states and promises that she will make no contract of espousal or marriage with an other man than said Cirilio San Pedro while she remains single, she agreeing to await and fulfill that which she has agreed to in the present instrument.

"3. Both parties are obligated to comply with the provisions of this instrument, and the party refusing to do so shall pay as damages the sum of P500.

"In witness whereof we sign the present agreement and bind ourselves to respect all the paragraphs thereof, this 21st day of February, 1912.

(Signed) "C.SN. PEDRO.

"PETRONILA TRIAS."cralaw virtua1aw library

The prosecuting attorney made the following endorsement upon a copy of said instrument and forwarded the same to the Attorney-General:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Respectfully referred to the Honorable the Attorney-General, inviting attention to the foregoing documents and testimony, taken before my assistant, Mr. Sobral.

" I do not believe that this matter is covered by the penal laws, but it occurs to me that a notary public who would execute such papers, particularly in view of paragraph 1 of the document, could be disciplined by the Supreme Court.

"Hence, I submit the matter to you for your consideration."cralaw virtua1aw library

The Attorney-General made the following endorsement:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Respectfully referred to the Honorable E. F. Johnson, Justice of the Supreme Court, inviting attention to the inclosed papers.

"It is respectfully recommended by the notary herein referred to be moved from the office under section 82 of Act No. 136."cralaw virtua1aw library

On May 6, 1912, the Honorable E. Finley Johnson, vacation justice, made the following order:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Respectfully forwarded to the clerk of the Supreme Court, with directions that an order be issued under the seal of the court, directed to Eugenio de Lara, the notary public mentioned in the within annexed documents, ordering him to appear personally before the Supreme Court at 9 o’clock a.m. on the 8th day of July, 1912, and to show in writing why he should not be removed as a notary public, in accordance with the provisions of section 82 of Act No. 136, for the alleged misconduct complained of by the processing attorney of the city of Manila, and which is fully set out in the documents hereto attached.

"The clerk will accompany the order herein made by a certified copy of all the documents hereto attached."cralaw virtua1aw library

On the 18th of July, 1912, Eugenio de Lara, presented his answer to the order to show cause, in which appear the following paragraphs:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"That the complaint of the prosecuting attorney of the city of Manila in this matter refers to a contract of espousal signed and acknowledged before the undersigned by Cirilo San Pedro and Petronilla Trias, said complaint being founded upon the declarations of Petronilia Trias and her father, who allege that said instrument was drawn by the notary before who it was acknowledged.

"On the 21st of February, 1912, the said Cirilo San Pedro and Petronila Trias came into the office of the undersigned notary with the document in question already drawn and prepared for ratification. The undersigned read the document and after having interpreted it to the parties thereto called their attention to its contents; they said that they were informed as to its contents and that it was in conformity with their will and purpose.

"The notary before whom the document was acknowledged neither induced the parties thereto to execute or sign said document, nor did he intervene directly or indirectly in formulating it, which appears from the adjoined affidavit of the witness who signed the document and as also appears from the language and expressions appearing in the contract from beginning to end and which show that they never could have been written by a lawyer. There, therefore, exists no basis for the complaint presented by the Attorney-General.

"The mere fact that the said instrument was signed and acknowledged before a notary public, who annexed his name and official seal, is not, in the humble judgment of the undersigned, sufficient ground under Act No. 136 to require his removal from office, . . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

Relative to the issues thus framed the Attorney-General took a considerable amount of the evidence, and after duly considering the same presented to this court the following report:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The undersigned, Attorney-General of the Philippine Islands, in compliance with the order of this court dated the 10th of July last, transferring to this office the answer and affidavit presented by the notary public Eugenio de Laran in order that this office might express it opinion with reference to said complaint, appears before the court and respectfully shows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. That this office, in view of the denial of Eugenio de Lara, notary public, to having drawn the instrument acknowledged before him by Cirilo San Pedro and Petronila Trias, presenting in support of his denial as affidavit signed and sworn to by one Regino Talag, obtained the opinion of a typewriter expert in the office of the Constabulary, Mr. Edwin C. Bopp, relative to whether the instrument in question and the answer presented in his defense by Mr. Lara were written on the same typewriter.

"2. The said expert, after an examination of the two writings by aid of photography, by which the letters and characters were very much enlarged, which photographs are attached hereto, have it as his opinion that the two documents were written not only upon the same machine but also by the same operator, as appears from his report which is hereto attached. This opinion and the papers thereto attached demonstrate clearly that said contract in question was draws in the office of Eugenio de Lara, in conformity with the testimony of one of the parties thereto, Petronilla Trias, Mr. De Lara having, in this testimony taken in the office of the Assistant Attorney-General, Mr. Feria, declared that his answer filed herein and referred to above was written by his stenographer and on the machine which he has in his office.

"3. That, as still further corroboration of the fact that the instrument in question was written and drawn by Eugenio de Lara, the undersigned ordered the Assistant Attorney-General of this office, Mr. Felicisimo R. Feria, to visit the office of Mr. Campbell, where Renigno Talag, who gave the affidavit to Mr. Lara, works, in order to take his declaration and that of his companion, who, according to the affidavit of Talag, drew the instrument in question.

"4. The said Assistant Attorney-General went to the office of Mr. Campbell on the 9th of this month and took the sworn declaration of said Regino Talag, as well as one of Nemesio Agor, who, according to Talag was one who drew the instrument. From these sworn declarations, which are adjoined hereto, it appears that said Agor did not draw or write the said instrument not did he know anything about it, nor did he see Cirilo San Pedro and Petronila Trias. This shows that the declaration of Talag presented to this court by Mr. De Lara and repeated in his sworn testimony before the Assistant Attorney-General is false.

"5. From the foregoing facts it appears: (1) That Mr. Eugenio de Lara is the one who wrote the instrument which the object of the present complaint and that, therefore, he did not tell the truth in his answer presented to this court denying that fact; and (2) that the sworn declaration of Regino Talag presented by Eugenio de Lara to this court to corroborate his denial that the wrote the said instrument and which also was repeated in his sworn declaration before the Assistant Attorney-General is not entitled to any credit whatever.

"Wherefore, we submit to the consideration of this honorable court that although there exists no penal law effecting the act of Mr. De Lara, such act ought to pass without being corrected, especially when we take into consideration that said notary Mr. De Lara is also a lawyer."cralaw virtua1aw library

Upon this report and the facts presented by the evidence upon which it was based, the Attorney-General initiated a proceeding against said De Lara for the revocation of his appointment as notary public. This court, however, upon said report and evidence, returned the same to the Attorney-General with instructions that, if in the opinion of the Attorney-General the facts warranted it, there be included in the complaint filed on January 10, 1913, the charge that the said Eugenio de Lara in an investigation for the purpose of determining whether there was sufficient foundation to the charges against him as notary public to warrant their prosecution, declaring as a witness under oath, testified falsely and submitted, in support of his false evidence, other testimony which he at the time well knew to be false.

Thereupon the Attorney-General amended his complaint by inserting therein the allegation found in paragraph 3 thereof, to wit:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"3. That at the investigation held by Mr. Felicisimo R. Feria, an assistant attorney of this office, on the above contract on August 8, 1912, the said Eugenio de Lara testified falsely and submitted the testimony of one Regino Talag well knowing that the same was false."cralaw virtua1aw library

The prayer of the complaint was "that the said Eugenio de Lara be removed and disbarred from practicing law in the courts of the Philippine Islands and that his appointment as notary public be revoked."cralaw virtua1aw library

The accused attorney having answered the complaint, the matter was referred to the clerk of this court as a referee to take testimony. On the completion of the hearings the referee reported the case with the evidence to this court.

Upon the evidence and the record we are satisfied beyond any doubt whatever that the accused attorney upon the investigation instituted in the proceeding to revoke his appointment as notary public, as a witness therein declaring under oath, testified falsely and did so deliberately, willfully, and corruptly. That he composed and drew the document in question there can be no doubt. The same typewriter was used with respect to the document in question as was used in the answer which the accused attorney filed to the charges made against him as notary public. The testimony of the other witnesses of the case and the failure of the accused attorney to present as a witness the person whose affidavit he filed in support of his own sword declaration that he did not compose or draw the instrument in question, of themselves establish beyond doubt that he is guilty of the charges made. When taken together with the evidence of Mr. Bopp, and the exhibits presented in connection with his testimony, by which it is demonstrated to the point of absolute clearness that the instrument in question was written upon De Lara’s typewriter operator, his guilt is placed beyond the range of doubt.

Every lawyer who is admitted to practice in the courts of the Philippine Islands takes an oath, a part of which is as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"I do solemnly swear that I will do no falsehood, not consent to the doing of any in court; . . . ." Sec. 18, Code Civ. Proc.)

Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Disbarments. — A member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as lawyer by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or for any violation of either of the oaths aforesaid, or for the willful disobedience of any lawful order of the Supreme Court or Courts of First Instance, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as lawyer for a party to an action or proceeding without authority so to do."cralaw virtua1aw library

It needs no argument to demonstrate that the conduct of the respondent in this case in a violation of his oath of office, particularly that part thereof in which he deposed that he would do no falsehood in court and that he would conduct himself in the office of a lawyer within the courts according to the best of his knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity to the courts as to his clients.

The proceeding for the removal of the respondent as the notary public was a proceeding, in effect, in court, this court being the appointing power and the complaint against the respondent to that end having been presented to this court and referred by it to the Attorney-General.

In that investigation respondent was guilty of the acts in this proceeding complained of the thereby violated the oath to which we have referred. The same conduct was persisted in upon the proceeding to disbar him. While we recognize and deeply appreciate that the permanent separation of a man from his chosen profession, to which he has dedicated a large part of his lifetime and to which he may be his only support, is a most important and solemn matter, we feel that this case warrants the severest penalty which the law imposes and that the responsibility under which we lie both to the public and to the bar demands the action which we take in the premises.

It is hereby adjudged and decreed that said Eugenio de Lara be and hereby disbarred and inhibited as an attorney and counselor at law of the Philippine Islands and as an officer of the courts thereof; that his license to practice and act as such be and the same is hereby revoked, cancelled, and annulled.

It is further adjudged and decreed and decreed that his appointment as a notary public be, and the same is hereby, revoked cancelled, and annulled, and that the license and certificate to practice and act as such be and the same is hereby also revoked, canceled, and annulled.

Arellano, C.J., Carson, Moreland, Trent and Araullo, JJ.,

Top of Page