A.C. No. 7325 January 21, 2015
DR. DOMICIANO F. VILLAHERMOSA, SR., Complainant,
ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL, Respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
“x x x.
The Rules of Court under Rule 138, Section 21 provides for a presumption of a lawyer’s appearance on behalf of his client, hence:
SEC. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. – An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney isrequired to authorize him to appear in court for his client, butthe presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney willfully appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contemptas an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. (Emphases supplied)
In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Dev’t. Co.,21 this Court said that while a lawyer is not required to present proof of his representation, when a court requires that he show such authorization, it is imperative that he show his authority to act. Thus:
A lawyer is not even required to present a written authorization from the client. In fact, the absence of a formal notice of entry of appearance will not invalidate the acts performed by the counsel in his client’s name. However, [a] court, on its own initiative or on motion of the other party may require a lawyer to adduce authorization from the client.22
Lawyers must be mindful that an attorney has no power to act as counsel for a person without being retained nor may he appear in court without being employed unless by leave of court.23 If an attorney appears on a client’s behalf without a retainer or the requisite authority neither the litigant whom he purports to represent nor the adverse party may be bound or affected by his appearance unless the purported client ratifies or is estopped to deny his assumed authority.24 If a lawyer corruptly or willfully appears as an attorney for a party toa case without authority, he may be disciplined or punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transaction.25
We must also take into consideration that even if a lawyer is retained by a client, an attorney-client relationship terminates upon death of either client or the lawyer.26
Here, Atty. Caracol was presumed to have authority when he appeared in the proceedings before the DARAB. The records are unclear at what point his authority to appear for Efren was questioned. Neither is there any indication that Villahermosa in fact questioned his authority during the course of the proceedings.
However, Atty. Caracol knew that Efren had already passed away at the time he filed the Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition. As an honest, prudent and conscientious lawyer, he should have informed the Court of his client’s passing and presented authority that he was retained by the client’s successors-in-interest and thus the parties may have been substituted.27
We also note the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz in People v. Mendoza28 where he stated:
I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably upon the adviceof his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem that this lawyer was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime the man did no[t] commit. As the ponenciaobserves, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no evidence against him – presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have been implicated."
It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an incredible lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was apparently willing, without any moral compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.
The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause.1âwphi1 The defense counsel in this case did not seem to appreciate this responsibility when he prodded Magalop to plead guilty and waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf.29
While this observation does not serve to exacerbate Atty. Caracol’s liability under the present circumstances, we would like to highlight the important role of an attorney in our judicial system. Because of the particular nature of an attorney’s function it is essential that they should act with fairness, honesty and candor towards the courts and his clients.30 Under Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
This flows out from the lawyer's oath which each lawyer solemnly swears to uphold the law and court processes in the pursuit of justice. Thus, a lawyer must be more circumspect in his demeanor and attitude towards the public in general as agents of the judicial system.
Here, Atty. Caracol, as observed by the IBP CBD, has been less than candid about his representation. We also observe that he has used underhanded means to attain his purpose. Atty. Caracol's blatant disregard of his duties as a lawyer cannot be countenanced. In view of his actions of contravening his lawyer's oath and in violation of Canons 8 and 10 and Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility we deem it proper to suspend him from the practice of law for a period of one year.
X x x.”