Legal Ethics

Jorge Montecillo et al vs Francisco Gica et al

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G.R. No. L-36800 – 60 SCRA 234 – Legal Ethics – Lawyer’s Duty to the Courts – Contemptuous Language 

Jorge Montecillo was accused by Francisco Gica of slander. Atty. Quirico del Mar represented Montecillo and he successfully defended Montecillo in the lower court. Del Mar was even able to win their counterclaim thus the lower court ordered Gica to pay Montecillo the adjudged moral damages.

Gica appealed the award of damages to the Court of Appeals where the latter court reversed the same. Atty. Del Mar then filed a motion for reconsideration where he made a veiled threat against the Court of Appeals judges intimating that he thinks the CA justices “knowingly rendered an unjust decision” and “judgment has been rendered through negligence” and that the CA allowed itself to be deceived.

The CA denied the MFR and it admonished Atty. Del Mar from using such tone with the court. Del Mar then filed a second MFR where he again made threats. The CA then ordered del Mar to show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt.

Thereafter, del Mar sent the three CA justices a copy of a letter which he sent to the President of the Philippines asking the said justices to consider the CA judgment. But the CA did not reverse its judgment. Del Mar then filed a civil case against the three justices of the CA before a Cebu lower court but the civil case was eventually dismissed by reason of a compromise agreement where del Mar agreed to pay damages to the justices. Eventually, the CA suspended Atty. Del Mar from practice.

The issue reached the Supreme Court. Del Mar asked the SC to reverse his suspension as well as the CA decision as to the Montecillo case. The SC denied both and this earned the ire of del Mar as he demanded from the Clerk of the Supreme Court as to who were the justices who voted against him.

The Supreme Court then directed del Mar to submit an explanation as to why he should not be disciplined. Del Mar in his explanation instead tried to justify his actions even stating that had he not been “convinced that human efforts in [pursuing the case] will be fruitless” he would have continued with the civil case against the CA justices. In his explanation, del Mar also intimated that even the Supreme Court is part among “the corrupt, the grafters and those allegedly committing injustice”.

Del Mar even filed a civil case against some Supreme Court justices but the judge who handled the case dismissed the same.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Del Mar should be suspended.

HELD: Yes. Atty. Del Mar, by his contemptuous acts is in violation of his duties to the courts. As an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily the high esteem and regard towards the court so essential to the proper administration of justice.

It is manifest that del Mar has scant respect for the two highest Courts of the land when on the flimsy ground of alleged error in deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of both Courts by claiming that they knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his allegation is that they acted with intent and malice, if not with gross ignorance of the law, in disposing of the case of his client.

Del Mar was then suspended indefinitely.

Read full text of the case here.

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