A.M. No. P-220 December 20, 1978 – JULIO ZETA vs. FELICISIMO MALINAO

Fact:

A complaint against the Respondent was lodged in the CFI by a person named Julio Zeta. The complainant alleged that the respondent, not a member of the bar, appears in multiple occasion in various courts and constitute illegal practice of Law. All so, as a court employee, he falsifies his time sheet as present but in reality is absent to appear in various cases. Subpoena was sent to the Complaint to attend the hearing of the complaint but was found the complainant is a fictitious person.

Issue:

Whether the Respondent is guilty of the illegal practice of law even if the complainant is a fictious person?

Held:

Yes, SC find the conclusions of fact of the Investigator to be amply supported by the evidence, particularly the documents consisting of public records and the declarations of the judges before whom respondent had appeared. It is clear that respondent, apart from appearing as counsel in various municipal courts without prior permission of his superiors in violation of civil service rules and regulations, falsified his time record of service by making it appear therein that he was present in his office on occasions when in fact he was in the municipal courts appearing as counsel, without being a member of the bar, which, furthermore, constitutes illegal practice of law. We, therefore, adopt the above findings of fact of the Investigator. The defense of respondent that “his participation (sic) for defendants’ cause was gratuitous as they could not engage the services of counsel by reason of poverty and the absence of one in the locality” cannot, even if true, carry the day for him, considering that in appearing as counsel in court, he did so without permission from his superiors and, worse, he falsified his time record of service to conceal his absence from his office on the dates in question. Indeed, the number of times that respondent acted as counsel under the above circumstances would indicate that he was doing it as a regular practice obviously for considerations other than pure love of justice. In the premises, it is quite obvious that the offense committed by respondent is grave, hence it warrants a more drastic sanction than that of reprimand recommended by Judge Zosa. We find no alternative than to separate him from the service, with the admonition that he desist from appearing in any court or investigative body wherein Only members of the bar are allowed to practice.

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