Question 5, 2018 Legal Ethics Bar Exam

V

(Question V, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2018 Bar Exam)

Carlos contracted two marriages: the first was with Consuelo, whom he left in the province, and the second was with Corinne in Manila, with whom he had six (6) children. Both women were unaware of Carlo’s marriage to the other.

When Carlos entered law school, he met Cristina, a classmate, to whom he confided his marital status. Not long after, Carlos and Cristina became involved in an extramarital affair, as a result of which Carlos left Corinne and their children. During Carlos and Cristina’s senior year in law school, Consuelo passed away. After their admission to the bar, Atty. Carlos and Atty. Cristina decided to get married in Hong Kong in a very private ceremony. When Corinne learned of Carlos and Cristina’s wedding in Hong Kong, she filed a disbarment case against Atty. Carlos and Atty. Cristina on the ground of gross immorality. Atty. Carlos and Atty. Cristina raised the following defenses:

a) the acts complained of took place before they were admitted to the bar; and

b) Atty. Carlos’ marriage to Corinne was void ab initio due to his subsisting first marriage with Consuelo, and they were free to marry after Consuelo died.

Rule on each defense. (2.5% each)

Suggested Answer:

a) On the first defense:

The defense is not valid. Answer

Under jurisprudence, good moral is a requirement for admission to the bar and is a continuing requirement to practice law. Admission to the bar does not preclude a subsequent judicial inquiry, upon proper complaint, into any question concerning the mental or moral fitness of the respondent before he became a lawyer. Rule

In the case at bar, Atty. Carlos and Atty. Cristina committed grossly immoral acts. Before he was admitted to the bar, Atty. Carlos committed the crime of bigamy having contracted a subsequent marriage with Corrine despite the existence of the first marriage. In addition, Atty. Carlos and Atty. Cristina committed the crime of adultery against Consuelo. Apply

Thus, the defense that the acts complained of took place before they were admitted to the bar is not proper and valid. Conclusion

b) On the second defense:

The defense is not valid. Answer

Under jurisprudence, a lawyer who subsequently married despite the existence of a bigamous marriage was held liable for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility. While the bigamous marriage is void in a strict legal sense, the circumstances show the perverse sense of moral values of the lawyer warranting his disbarment. Rule

In the case at bar, and considering the background of the case, Atty. Carlos and Atty. Cristina contracted marriage in a clandestine manner in Hong Kong knowing the issues surrounding the previous marriages. Even if the bigamous marriage was void, their actions and intentions show their perverse sense of moral values unbecoming of a lawyer. Apply

Thus, the defense that the marriage with Corrine was void ab initio and that they were free to marry each other after Consuelo died, is not proper and valid. 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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