Legal Ethics

Priscilla Orbe vs Atty. Henry Adaza

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ADM. CASE No. 5252 – 428 SCRA 567 – Legal Ethics – Gross Misconduct – What “Conduct” Means

In November 1996, Attorney Henry Adaza went to Priscilla Orbe to borrow P60k. Orbe loaned Adaza the said amount. As security, Adaza issued Orbe two checks to cover the loan plus interest. The checks however bounced (the second check was even post dated by Adaza to bear the date January 24, 1996- many months before November 1996 when the loan was made). Subsequently, because of Adaza’s failure to pay despite notices and demand from Orbe, the latter filed a complaint for grave misconduct against Adaza. Orbe alleged that Adaza is unfit to be a member of the bar. Eventually, the case was referred to the respective Integrated Bar of Philippines chapter. Despite notices, Adaza failed to appear in any of the proceedings. The IBP chapter then recommended Adaza’s suspension for one year.

ISSUE: Whether or not Adaza should be suspended.

HELD: Yes. Adaza’s issuance of worthless checks and his contumacious refusal to comply with his just obligation for nearly eight years (from SC’s date of decision [2004]) is appalling. The Supreme Court also elucidated on the following:

A member of the bar may be so removed or suspended from office as an attorney for any deceit, malpractice, or misconduct in office. The word “conduct” used in the rules is not limited to conduct exhibited in connection with the performance of the lawyer’s professional duties but it also refers to any misconduct, although not connected with his professional duties, that would show him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the law confer upon him. The grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court are not limitative and are broad enough to cover any misconduct, including dishonesty, of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity. Such misdeed puts his moral fiber, as well as his fitness to continue in the advocacy of law, in serious doubt.

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