(Question VII, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2018 Bar Exam)
Atty. Celso Casis’ relationship with Miss Cory Cerrada began when he represented her in several criminal cases for estafa and violation of B.P. 22. His expertise and diligence in personally assisting and facilitating her release on bail and other legal actions saved her from many legal predicaments. Despite her initial resistance, Miss Cerrada, convinced by Atty. Casis’ sincerity and representation that he was separated from his wife and was taking necessary steps for the annulment of his marriage, began to live with him openly as husband and wife. One day, Atty. Casis’ wife suddenly entered Miss Cerrada’s home and assaulted her, inflicting injuries. Miss Cerrada then filed a complaint with the IBP charging Atty. Casis with gross immorality and gross misconduct. However, shortly afterwards, upon Atty. Casis’ pleas, Miss Cerrada filed a motion to withdraw complaint. The IBP had required Atty. Casis to file an answer but he did not do so, relying on Miss Cerrada’s withdrawal of the complaint against him.
Can the IBP continue to investigate Atty. Casis and recommend the imposition of sanctions against him, and for the Court to impose sanctions, if warranted, notwithstanding Miss Cerrada’s filing of the motion to withdraw the complaint against him? (2.5%)
Under jurisprudence, disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather investigations by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. Otherwise stated, a complainant is not indispensable. Rule
In the case at bar, Miss Cerada’s motion to withdraw the complaint does not automatically result in the termination of the investigation. The IBP is authorized to continue with the investigation as a complainant is not indispensable. Apply
Thus, the IBP may continue to investigate Atty. Casis and recommend the imposition of sanctions against him and fo the Court to impose sanctions if warranted. Conclusion
(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)
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