GARCIA vs. SESBREÑO

Posted: April 11, 2017 in case digests, legal ethics, PALE, Uncategorized
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GARCIA vs. SESBREÑO

A.C. No. 7973 and A.C. No. 10457 | February 3, 2015

By: Karen P. Lustica

FACTS:

Garcia filed a complaint for disbarment against Sesbreño before the Office of the Bar Confidant.

Garcia alleged that in 2005 while he was in Japan, Sesbreño, representing Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth, filed an action for support against him and his sister Milagros Garcia Soliman. At the time of the filing of the case, Maria Margarita was already 39 years old while Angie Ruth was 35 years old. The case was dismissed. In 2007, Garcia returned from Japan. When Sesbreño and Garcia’s children learned about his return, Sesbreño filed a Second Amended Complaint against him.

Garcia alleged that he learned that Sesbreño was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 18, for Homicide in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733. Garcia alleged that Sesbreño is only on parole. Garcia alleged that homicide is a crime against moral turpitude; and thus, Sesbreño should not be allowed to continue his practice of law.

In his answer to the complaint, Sesbreño alleged that his sentence was commuted and the phrase “with the inherent accessory penalties provided by law” was deleted. Sesbreño argued that even if the accessory penalty was not deleted, the disqualification applies only during the term of the sentence. Sesbreño further alleged that homicide does not involve moral turpitude. Sesbreño claimed that Garcia’s complaint was motivated by extreme malice, bad faith, and desire to retaliate against him for representing Garcia’s daughters in court.

 

ISSUES:

  1. WON conviction for the crime of homicide involves moral turpitude.
  2. WON Sesbreño should be disbarred

HELD:

  1. YES.
  2. YES.

 

RATIO:

 1. This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral turpitude. Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding circumstances. While x x x generally but not always, crimes mala in se involve moral turpitude, while crimes mala prohibitado not, it cannot always be ascertained whether moral turpitude does or does not exist by classifying a crime as malum in se or as malum prohibitum, since there are crimes which are mala in se and yet rarely involve moral turpitude and there are crimes which involve moral turpitude and are mala prohibita only. It follows therefore, that moral turpitude is somewhat a vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must be left to the process of judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached.

The IBP-CBD correctly stated that Amparado and Yapchangco were just at the wrong place and time. They did not do anything that justified the indiscriminate firing done by Sesbreño that eventually led to the death of Amparado.

We cannot accept Sesbreño’s argument that the executive clemency restored his full civil and political rights. Sesbreño cited In re Atty. Parcasio to bolster his argument. In that case, Atty. Parcasio was granted “an absolute and unconditional pardon” which restored his “full civil and political rights,” a circumstance not present in these cases. Here, the Order of Commutation did not state that the pardon was absolute and unconditional.

There are four acts of executive clemency that the President can extend: the President can grant reprieves, commutations, pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment. In this case, the executive clemency merely “commuted to an indeterminate prison term of 7 years and 6 months to 10 years imprisonment” the penalty imposed on Sesbrefio. Commutation is a mere reduction of penalty. Commutation only partially extinguished criminal liability. The penalty for Sesbrefio’ s crime was never wiped out. He served the commuted or reduced penalty, for which reason he was released from prison.

 

  1. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended as attorney by this Court by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. This Court has ruled that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Moral turpitude is an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general, contraryto justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.

DISPOSITION: Respondent Raul H. Sesbreno is DISBARRED.

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