(Question XIII, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2018 Bar Exam)
Dr. Cielo is a well-known medical doctor specializing in cosmetic surgery. Dr. Cielo, together with a team of doctors, performed a surgical buttocks enhancement procedure in her clinic on Ms. Cossette Cancio (Cancio). Unfortunately, after a couple of years, the implant introduced during the enhancement procedure caused infection and Cancio became seriously ill.
Concio filed a criminal action for medical malpractice against Dr. Cielo which was eventually dismissed for failure to prove that Dr. Cielo was negligent. Cancio was represented in this action by Atty. Cogie Ciguerra (Ciguerra). After they lost the medical malpractice case, Ciguerra started writing a series of posts on his Facebook (FB) account containing insulting and verbally abusive language against Dr. Cielo. Among others, Ciguerra called Dr. Cielo a quack doctor, “reyna ng kaplastikan at kapalpakan”, and accused her of maintaining a payola or extralegal budget to pay off prosecutors and judges in order to win her cases. He also called on patients to boycott the clinic of Dr. Cielo.
Dr. Cielo filed a disbarment case against Ciguerra for posting on his FB account sexist, vulgar, and obscene comments and language disrespectful of women. Ciguerra’s defense is that his FB posts were private remarks on his private FB account and meant only to be shared among his FB friends, and Dr. Cielo was not part of them. He also claimed that the disbarment case was filed in violation of his constitutionally-guaranteed right to privacy. The Court, however, found that Ciguerra did not have privacy settings.
Can Ciguerra be disbarred for the series of posts against Dr. Cielo in his FB account? (5%)
Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Under jurisprudence, the non-use of privacy settings show that there is no expectation of privacy of an online post by its author. Rule
In the case at bar, Atty. Ciguerra admits and does not deny the charge against him for posting sexist, vulgar, and obscene comments and language disrespectful of women resulting from his posts against Dr. Cielo. His claim to privacy is not valid considering he did not use any privacy settings. Accordingly, his acts is subject to disciplinary action even if it is in his private capacity or private life. His actions adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. Apply
Thus, Atty. Ciguerra can be disbarred for the series of posts against Dr. Cielo in his FB account. 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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