QUERY OF ATTY. KAREN M. SILVERIO-BUFFE, FORMER Clerk of Court – BRANCH 81, ROMBLON, ROMBLON – ON THE PROHIBITION FROM ENGAGING IN THE PRIVATE PRACTICE OF LAW.
Atty. Silverio-Buffe questioned the law stating that retired members of the government were not allowed to practice their Profession for one year. As per Atty. Silverio-Buffe, the law is unfair as she was a former Clerk of Court. That the law give preference to incumbent members of the government that the prohibition may be lifted uphold the approval of their superior. Atty. Silverio-Buffe admitted that she appeared in the court where she was formerly assigned less that a year of here resignation.
Whether Atty. Silverio-Buffe is guilty of violating the CPR and her oath?
Yes, By acting in a manner that R.A. No. 6713 brands as “unlawful,” Atty. Buffe contravened Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides: CANON 1 – A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSES Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
As indicated by the use of the mandatory word “shall,” this provision must be strictly complied with. Atty. Buffe failed to do this, perhaps not with an evil intent, considering the misgivings she had about Section 7 (b)(2)’s unfairness. Unlawful conduct under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, however, does not necessarily require the element of criminality, although the Rule is broad enough to include it. Likewise, the presence of evil intent on the part of the lawyer is not essential to bring his or her act or omission within the terms of Rule 1.01, when it specifically prohibits lawyers from engaging in unlawful conduct. Thus, we find Atty. Buffe liable under this quoted Rule.
The court also find that Atty. Buffe also failed to live up to her lawyer’s oath and thereby violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when she blatantly and unlawfully practised law within the prohibited period by appearing before the RTC Branch she had just left. Canon 7 states:
CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
By her open disregard of R.A. No. 6713, she thereby followed the footsteps of the models she cited and wanted to replicate – the former court officials who immediately waded into practice in the very same court they came from. She, like they, disgraced the dignity of the legal profession by openly disobeying and disrespecting the law. By her irresponsible conduct, she also eroded public confidence in the law and in lawyers. Her offense is not in any way mitigated by her transparent attempt to cover up her transgressions by writing the Court a letter-query, which she followed up with unmeritorious petitions for declaratory relief, all of them dealing with the same Section 7 (b)(2) issue, in the hope perhaps that at some point she would find a ruling favorable to her cause. These are acts whose implications do not promote public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession.
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