(Question VI, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2018 Bar Exam)
Mrs. Conchita Conchu engaged the services of Atty. Carlo Colorado to act as private prosecutor to handle a criminal case against persons suspected of slaying her husband. Atty. Colorado performed his duties – he interviewed witnesses to build up his case and religiously attended hearings. However, he failed to attend one hearing (allegedly because he did not receive a notice) in which the court, over Mrs. Conchu’s objections, granted bail to all the accused. Mrs. Conchu belligerently confronted Atty. Colorado about his absence. Stung by Mrs. Conchu’s words, Atty. Colorado filed with the court a “Motion to Withdraw as Counsel”. The motion did not bear the consent of Mrs. Conchu, as in fact, Mrs. Conchu refused to sign her conformity to Atty. Colorado’s withdrawal. Meanwhile, the hearing in the criminal case continued, but Atty. Colorado no longer appeared at the hearings nor did he contact Mrs. Conchu. Mrs. Conchu then filed a complaint seeking disciplinary sanctions against Atty. Colorado. Atty. Colorado cited “loss of confidence” and “serious differences” with the client as his reasons for withdrawing his services unilaterally.
Can Atty. Colorado be sanctioned for his actions? (2.5%)
Under jurisprudence, until the withdrawal of counsel shall have been approved by the court, the lawyer remains counsel of record who is expected by his clients, as well as by the court, to do what the interests of his clients require. S/he must still appear before the court to protect the interest of his/her clients by availing himself of the proper remedy, for the attorney-client relations are not terminated formally until there is a withdrawal of record. Rule
In the case at bar, Atty. Colorado submitted a motion to withdraw without the signature of his Mrs. Conchu indicating her approval. Further, the court has not approved the motion. Accordingly, he remained counsel until it is approved by the court and there is a proper withdrawal of record. Apply
Thus, Atty. Colorado can be sanctioned for his actions. 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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