Jimenez v. Francisco 2004 A.C. No. 10548, December 10, 2014

Facts: Complainant was shocked upon reading the allegations in the complaint for estafa filed by Jimenez against her. She felt even more betrayed when she read the affidavit of Atty. Francisco, on whom she relied as her personal lawyer and Clarion’s corporate counsel and secretary of Clarion. This prompted her to file a disciplinary case against Atty. Francisco for representing conflicting interests. According to her, she usually conferred with Atty. Francisco regarding the legal implications of Clarion’s transactions. More significantly, the principal documents relative to the sale and transfer of Clarion’s property were all prepared and drafted by Atty. Francisco or the members of his law office.7 Atty. Francisco was the one who actively participated in the transactions involving the sale of the Forbes property. Without admitting the truth of the allegations in his affidavit, complainant argued that its execution clearly betrayed the trust and confidence she reposed on him as a lawyer. For this reason, complainant prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Francisco.

Issue: Whether respondent’s actively and passively allowing Clarion to make untruthful representations to the SEC and in other public documents, still constitute malpractice and gross misconduct in his office as attorney.

Held: Yes, While the Court finds no violation of the rule on conflict of interests and disclosure of privileged communication, the acts of Atty. Francisco, in actively and passively allowing Clarion to make untruthful representations to the SEC and in other public documents, still constitute malpractice and gross misconduct in his office as attorney, for which a suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months is warranted. Atty. Francisco could have prevented his entanglement with this fiasco among the members of Jimenez’s family by taking an upfront and candid stance in dealing with Jimenez’s children and complainant. He could have been staunch in reminding the latter that his tasks were performed in his capacity as legal counsel for Clarion and Jimenez. Be that as it may, Atty. Francisco’s indiscretion does not detract the Court from finding that the totality of evidence presented by the complainant miserably failed to discharge the burden of proving that Atty. Francisco was her lawyer. At most, he served as the legal counsel of Clarion and, based on the affirmation presented, of Jimenez. Suffice it to say, complainant failed to establish that Atty. Francisco committed a violation of the rule on conflict of interests.

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