PEÑA vs. PATERNO

Posted: April 8, 2017 in case digests, legal ethics, PALE, Uncategorized
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PEÑA vs. PATERNO
A.C. No. 4191  June 10, 2013
By: Karen P. Lustica

FACTS:
Anita C. Peña personally knew Atty. Christina C. Paterno as respondent
was her lawyer in a legal separation case, which she filed against her
husband and the aforementioned property was her share in their
property settlement. Complainant stated that she also knew personally
one Estrella D. Kraus, as she was respondent’s trusted employee who
did secretarial work for respondent.
Paterno suggested that she (complainant) apply for a loan from a bank
to construct townhouses on her property for sale to interested buyers,
and that her property be offered as collateral. Paterno assured Peña
that she would work out the speedy processing and release of the loan.
Peña discovered that her apartment was already demolished, and in its
place, four residential houses were constructed on her property, which
she later learned was already owned by one Ernesto D. Lampa, who
bought her property from Estrella D. Kraus.
Complainant learned that her property was sold to Krisbuilt Traders
Company, Ltd., and respondent was the Notary Public before whom the
sale was acknowledged. Krisbuilt Traders Company, Ltd., through its
Managing Partner, Estrella D. Kraus, sold the same to one Ernesto D.
Lampa.

Complainant stated in her Complaint that she did not sell her property
to Krisbuilt Traders Company, Ltd., and that she neither signed any
deed of sale in its favor nor appeared before respondent to
acknowledge the sale. She alleged that respondent manipulated the sale
of her property.
Respondent alleged that complainant took hold of the Deed of Sale.
Complainant allegedly told respondent that she would inform respondent
when the transaction was completed so that the Deed of Sale could be
recorded in the Notarial Book. Thereafter, respondent claimed that she
had no knowledge of what transpired between complainant and the
Spouses Kraus.
Respondent stated that she was never entrusted with complainant’s
certificate of title. Moreover, it was only complainant who negotiated
the sale of her property.
According to respondent, complainant’s inaction for eight years to
verify what happened to her property only meant that she had actually
sold the same, and that she concocted her story when she saw the
prospect of her property had she held on to it.
Respondent prayed for the dismissal of the case.

ISSUE:
WON Paterno should be disbarred.

HELD:
YES.

RATIO:
Pursuant to Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a lawyer may
be removed or suspended for any deceit or dishonest act, thus:
Sec. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what
grounds. – A member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his
office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice,
or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or
by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or
for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
admission to practice, or for a wilfull disobedience of any lawful
order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as
an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The
practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
Given the facts of this case, wherein respondent was in possession of
complainant’s copy of the certificate of title to the property in
Marikina, and it was respondent who admittedly prepared the Deed of
Sale, which complainant denied having executed or signed, the
important evidence of the alleged forgery of complainant’s signature
on the Deed of Sale and the validity of the sale is the Deed of Sale
itself. However, a copy of the Deed of Sale could not be produced by
the Register of Deeds of Marikina City, as it could not be located in
the general files of the registry, and a certification was issued
stating that the Deed of Sale may be considered lost. Moreover,
respondent did not submit to the Clerk of Court of the RTC of Manila
her Notarial Report for the month of November 1986, including the said
Deed of Sale, which was executed on November 11, 1986. Hence,
Investigating Commissioner Sordan opined that it appears that efforts
were exerted to get rid of the copies of the said Deed of Sale to
prevent complainant from getting hold of the document for the purpose
of handwriting verification from an expert to prove that her alleged
signature on the Deed of Sale was forged. The failure of respondent to
submit to the proper RTC Clerk of Court her Notarial Register/Report
for the month of November 1986 and a copy of the Deed of Sale, which
was notarized by her within that month, has far-reaching implications
and grave consequences, as it in effect suppressed evidence on the
veracity of the said Deed of Sale and showed the deceitful conduct of
respondent to withhold the truth about its authenticity. During her
testimony, it was observed by the Investigating Commissioner and
reflected in the transcript of records that respondent would neither
directly confirm nor deny that she notarized the said Deed of Sale.
For the aforementioned deceitful conduct, respondent is disbarred from
the practice of law. As a member of the bar, respondent failed to live
up to the standards embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility, particularly the following Canons:

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.
Rule 1.02 – A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at
defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.
CANON 7 – A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity
of the legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated
Bar.
Rule 7.03 – A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely
reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in
public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit
of the legal profession.

DISPOSITION: Respondent Atty. Christina C. Paterno is DISBARRED

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