Legal Ethics

Virginia Almirez vs Arturo Lopez

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Adm. Case No. 481 – 27 SCRA 169 – Legal Ethics – Gross Immoral Conduct 

Atty. Arturo Lopez became a lawyer in 1957. In 1958, he courted Virginia Almirez; they became sweethearts. In 1960, Lopez manifested his intention to marry Almirez. Almirez believed in the promise and so they had multiple carnal knowledge in the following months. Eventually, Almirez got pregnant. Lopez then urged her to take some pills which he said would hasten her menstrual flow. When this didn’t work, Lopez advised her to see an abortion doctor but no abortion was done because Almirez was against it. Thereafter, Lopez refused to marry Almirez even though they already secured marriage license.

Almirez then filed a disbarment case against Lopez. Lopez in his defense denied that the baby was his; that he did not promise to marry Almirez.

While the case was pending in the Office of the Solicitor General, Almirez filed an affidavit of desistance. But later on, she withdraw said affidavit. She also confided that the reason why she made the affidavit withdrawing the case was that Lopez promised to marry her finally. BUT then Lopez did not and the latter actually married another woman instead hence, Almirez revived the case. Further, Almirez also testified that the affidavit withdrawing the disbarment case was procured by Lopez by letting her sign a blank sheet.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Lopez should be disbarred.

HELD: Yes. Lopez is guilty of gross immoral conduct. Lopez denied that he promised to marry Almirez but such denial is belied by the fact that they secured a marriage license. Therefore, it is evident that he breached that promise when he did not marry her. His urging Almirez to have an abortion is highly reprehensible. His procurement of the affidavit by letting Almirez sign a blank sheet also bolsters his being unfit of being a member of the bar. Hence, the Supreme Court disbarred him from the practice of law.

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