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SPOUSES MANUEL C. RAFOLS, JR. and LOLITA B. RAFOLS vs. ATTY. RICARDO G. BARRIOS, JR [A.C. No. 4973.

March 15, 2010.] FACTS: The complainants were the plaintiffs in CiviL case of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in General Santos City, wherein they sought the cancellation of a deed of sale. The case was assigned to Judge Dizon, Jr. The complainants were represented by the respondent, paying to him P15,000.00 as acceptance fee. On December 22, 1997, the respondent visited the complainants at their residence and informed complainant Manuel that the judge handling their case wanted to talk to him. The respondent and Manuel thus went to the East Royal Hotel's coffee shop where Judge Dizon, Jr. was already waiting. The respondent introduced Manuel to the judge, who informed Manuel that their case was pending in his sala. The judge likewise said that he would resolve the case in their favor, assuring their success up to the Court of Appeals, if they could deliver P150,000.00 to him. ISSUE: WON respondent is guilty of misconduct HELD: YES Court approved and adopted the report and recommendations of the OBC (Office of the Bar Confidant) but imposed the supreme penalty of disbarment. Respondent's act of introducing the complainants to the judge strongly implied that the respondent was aware of the illegal purpose of the judge in wanting to talk with the respondent's clients. Thus, the court unqualifiedly accepted the aptness of the following evaluation made in the OBC's Report and Recommendation, viz.: . . . Being the Officer of the Court, he must have known that meeting litigants outside the court is something beyond the bounds of the rule and that it can never be justified by any reason.By his overt act in arranging the meeting between Judge Dizon and complainants-litigants in the Coffee Shop of the East Royal Hotel, it is crystal clear that he must have allowed himself and consented to Judge Dizon's desire to ask money from the complainants-litigants for a favorable decision of their case which was pending before the sala of Judge Dizon. The practice of law is a privilege heavily burdened with conditions. The attorney is a vanguard of our legal system, and, as such, is expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a very high standard of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing in order that the people's faith and confidence in the legal system are ensured. Any violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the imposition on the attorney of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment. Specifically, the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins an attorney from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful conduct. Corollary to this injunction is the rule that an attorney shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the Legal Profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. //donn.tantuan

HECTOR TREAS vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES [G.R. No. 195002. January 25, 2012.] FACTS: Sometime in December 1999, Margarita Alocilja wanted to buy a house-and-lot in Iloilo CitY. It was then mortgaged with Maybank. The bank manager Joselito Palma recommended Atty. Hector Treas to Elizabeth, who was an employee and niece of Margarita, for advice regarding the transfer of the title in the latter's name. Hector informed Elizabeth that for the titling of the property in the name of her aunt Margarita, expenses would be incurred. Thereafter, Elizabeth gave P150,000.00 to Hector who issued a corresponding receipt but the latter misappropriated and converted it to his own personal use. RTC rendered a Decision finding petitioner guilty of the crime of Estafa. CA affirmed. ISSUE: jurisdiction of RTC. RULING: There being no showing that the offense was committed within Makati, the RTC of that city has no jurisdiction over the case. Court sees it fit to note that the Code of Professional Responsibility strongly militates against the petitioner's conduct in handling the funds of his client. Rules 16.01 and 16.02 of the Code provides such. When a lawyer collects or receives money from his client for a particular purpose, he should promptly account to the client how the money was spent. His failure either to render an accounting or to return the money constitutes a blatant disregard of Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Moreover, a lawyer has the duty to deliver his client's funds or properties as they fall due or upon demand. His failure to return the client's money upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice of and in violation of the trust reposed in him by the client. The case is thus referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against petitioner. //donn.tantuan