Judge Luis De Leon vs Atty. Jose Torres

Adm. Case No. 180 – 99 Phil. 463 – Legal Ethics – Duty to Respect Court Orders

In 1953, Atty. Jose Torres sent a telegram to Judge Luis De Leon threatening him that if the judge won’t lift his order of arrest, he shall file criminal, civil and administrative charges against him. Judge De Leon then issued a show cause order requiring Atty. Torres to explain why he should not be disciplined. Torres did not appear but instead he evaded arrest and went to Manila. Judge De Leon then decreed an order suspending Torres from the practice of law until otherwise ruled upon by the Supreme Court. Notwithstanding this order, Torres still practiced law.

ISSUE: Whether or not the conduct of Atty. Torres is proper.

HELD: No. He openly defied a lawful order of the court. It must be impressed upon all lawyers that court orders, even though erroneous, must be respected, especially by the bar or the lawyers who are themselves officers of the courts. Court orders are to be respected not because the judges who issue them should be respected, but because of the respect and consideration that should be extended to the judicial branch of the Government. Respect must be had not because of the incumbents to the positions, but because of the authority that vests in them. Disrespect to judicial incumbents is disrespect to that branch of the Government to which they belong, as well as to the State which has instituted the judicial system. Torres was suspended for three months.

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