Jan 12, 2021 @ 8:39
SC slaps lawyer with P50K fine for spreading word about another lawyer’s impending suspension
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered lawyer Dwight Galarrita to pay a P50,000 fine for prematurely spreading the word about its impending suspension of lawyer Julieta Omaña, even though the judgment had not been rendered and had not attained finality at the time.
In a recent 8-page minute resolution, the SC en banc found Galarrita guilty of violating the rule on confidentiality of disbarment proceedings under Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. It warned him that a similar offense “will be dealt with more severely.”
Omaña was ordered suspended for one year by the SC in an October 12, 2011 decision. But, before it became final and executory, she claimed Galaritta questioned her appearance in court hearings by revealing the result of her administrative case off the record.
Galaritta apparently predicted the outcome as he had a copy of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ September 19, 2007 resolution recommending that she be sanctioned.
The SC noted that the trial court already informed Galaritta twice that as long as the SC had not issued an order or circular notifying them about Omaña’s status, it cannot the lawyer from appearing.
It added that Galaritta also showed “a clear intent to malign complainant’s reputation and somehow discredit her as a lawyer to the public.”
“This action of respondent clearly showed his intent to humiliate and tarnish the reputation of complainant as a lawyer by letting others know of the complainant’s pending disbarment case, fully disregarding the rule on confidentiality,” read the resolution signed by Clerk of Court Edgar Aricheta.
“His acts not only showed disrespect towards his fellow counsel but also to the court at that time,” it added.
The SC stressed that lawyers must treat one another with trust and respect, and mutual bickering, unjustified recrimination and offensive behavior “not only detract from the dignity of the legal profession, but also constitute highly unprofessional conduct subject to disciplinary action.”