As Larry Gadon flips the bird, legal professionals recall ethical code

April 11, 2018 - 10:37 AM
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A footage of lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon showing the middle finger to and cursing at picketing Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno supporters at the Supreme Court summer court house in Baguio alarmed many on viewers.

The incident involving Sereno’s main accuser in the impeachment proceedings occurred shortly before the start of the quo waranto oral arguments questioning the embattled magistrate’s post.

Much of the backlash was over provisions in the Code of Professional Responsibility, the governing code of ethics for members of the bar, that Gadon apparently violated when he gave Sereno’s supporters the finger.

Violations of the code may range from mere reprimand to suspension for a certain amount of time to the ultimate penalty of disbarment—a punishment reserved for the grossest violators of legal ethics. The penalty given in such cases are based on the severity of the accused’s actions.

The violation of the Lawyer’s Oath has also formed the basis for penalizing members of the bar in the past.

‘Disbar’ is thrown around a lot

As something that can practically undo a life’s worth of hard work, disbarment is seen as the ultimate weapon against any lawyer. Threats of disbarment are commonplace in the country’s turbulent political landscape.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena recently threatened to press disbarment charges against then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguire II due to the latter’s supposed interference in the tax evasion charges filed by the Cebu City government against executives of SM Prime Holdings and BDO Unibank Inc.

Prior to her incarceration last year, Sen. Leila de Lima in October 2016 was threatened with disbarment charges by the Victims Against Crime and Corruption. The VACC cited De Lima’s alleged extra-marital affair as basis for the complaint. In spite of her incarceration, the disbarment petition has yet to fly.

One disbarment charge that died in its infancy was the petition filed by PACC commissioner Greco Belgica against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

The Supreme Court dismissed the petition in just two days of deliberation, citing previous jurisprudence that held that a sitting ombudsman could not be charged with disbarment during his or her term.

One example of a disbarment charge that was granted by the court was the petition filed against former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.

Eala was disbarred for having violated Canon 1.01 and Canon 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility after he was found to have had an illicit affair with the petitioner’s estranged wife. — Video by Philstar.com / Kristine Joy Patag