(Question IX, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2017 Bar Exam)
Atty. Miriam rents her office space in a building owned by Winston. Eventually, Atty. Miriam became Winston’s regular legal counsel. Because of their good relationship, Atty. Miriam did not hesitate to borrow money from Winston. Atty. Miriam issued postdated checks covering the interest of her loans. Unfortunately, Atty. Miriam failed to pay her obligations to Winston. Her postdated checks with Winston also bounced. Hence, he filed a criminal case for violation of the Bouncing Checks Law against her.
In her counter-affidavit, Atty. Miriam averred that Winston was “a businessman who is engaged in the real estate business, trading and buy and sell of deficiency taxed imported cars, shark loans and other shady deals and has many cases pending in court.”
Hurt by the allegations, Winston filed a disbarment complaint against Atty. Miriam arguing that her allegations in the counter-affidavit constituted a breach of their confidential lawyer-client relationship.
Discuss whether or not the disclosures in Atty. Miriam’s counter-affidavit constitute a breach of fidelity towards her client. (4%)
The disclosures in Atty. Miriam’s counter-affidavit constituted a breach of fidelity towards her client. Answer
Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, and as a general rule, a lawyer shall not reveal the confidences or secrets of his client. One of the exceptions is when it is necessary for the lawyer to defend himself. Rule
In the case at bar, the disclosures made by Atty. Miriam were not necessary to defend himself. She was charged for violating the Bouncing Checks Law. That Mr. Winston may be engaged in some unlawful activities is not relevant nor material to the Bouncing Checks case. Apply
Thus, Atty. Miriam committed a breach of fidelity against her client. 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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