Legal Ethics

Alberto Fernandez vs Atty. Benjamin Grecia

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A.C. No. 3694 Р42 SCAD 438 Р223 SCRA 425 РLegal Ethics РGross Misconduct; Destroying Court Record/Evidence 

In 1990, Linda Aves was admitted to St. Lukes Hospital. Among the doctors who treated her was Dr. Alberto Fernandez. She was treated well hence she was sent home but then the next day she died together with her unborn child. Damaso Aves, husband, then filed a damage suit against the hospital and he impleaded the attending doctors which included Fernandez. Aves hired Atty. Benjamin Grecia to represent him.

Grecia requested St. Luke to surrender before the court the medical records of Linda Aves. St. Luke complied and the medical records were delivered to the Clerk of Court. In the morning of July 16, 1991, Grecia went to the office of the clerk of court to borrow the said medical records. While Grecia was examining the said medical records, he tore in front of the Clerk and one office staff two pages from the medical records and then handed it back to the Clerk. The Clerk was stunned as she watched Grecia walk away. She then reported the incident to the judge. The judge immediately took action and the torn pages were eventually recovered as it turned out that Grecia handed the torn pages to someone else.

Grecia was then administratively charged by Dr. Fernandez. Apparently, Grecia has been disbarred before but was reinstated by the Supreme Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not Grecia should be disbarred again.

HELD: Yes. Grecia violated the Code of Professional Responsibility. As a lawyer, he should not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is “like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of justice”. Considering that this is his second offense, an incorrigible practitioner of “dirty tricks,” like Grecia would be ill-suited to discharge the role of “an instrument to advance the ends of justice.” By descending to the level of a common thief, respondent Grecia has demeaned and disgraced the legal profession. He has demonstrated his moral unfitness to continue as a member of the honorable fraternity of lawyers. He has forfeited his membership in the BAR.

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