The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation
Rule 139
DISBARMENT OR SUSPENSION OF ATTORNEYS


RULE 139

Disbarment or Suspension of Attorneys

Section 1. Motion or complaint. Proceedings for the removal or suspension of attorneys may be taken by the Supreme Court on its own motion or upon the complaint under oath of another in writing. The complaint shall set out distinctly, clearly, and concisely the facts complained of, supported by affidavits, if any, of persons having personal knowledge of the facts therein alleged and shall be accompanied with copies of such documents as may substantiate said facts.

Section 2. Service or dismissal. If the complaint appears to merit action, a copy thereof shall be served upon the respondent, requiring him to answer the same within ten (10) days from the date of service. If the complaint does not merit action, or if the answer shows to the satisfaction of the Supreme Court that the complaint is not meritorious, the same shall be dismissed.

Section 3. Investigation by Solicitor General. Upon the issues raised by the complaint and answer, or upon failure of the respondent to answer, the case shall be referred to the Solicitor General for investigation to determine if there is sufficient ground to proceed with the prosecution of the respondent. In the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General, the respondent shall be given full opportunity to defend himself, to produce witnesses in his own behalf, and to be heard by himself and counsel. However, if upon reasonable notice, the respondent fails to appear, the investigation shall proceed ex parte.

Section 4. Report of the Solicitor General. Based upon the evidence adduced at the hearing, if the Solicitor General finds no sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, he shall submit a report to the Supreme Court containing his findings of fact and conclusion, whereupon the respondent shall be exonerated unless the court orders differently.

Section 5. Complaint of the Solicitor General. Answer of respondent. If the Solicitor General finds sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, he shall file the corresponding complaint, accompanied with all the evidence introduced in his investigation, with the Supreme Court, and the respondent shall be served by the clerk of the Supreme Court with a copy of the complaint with direction to answer the same within fifteen (15) days.

Section 6. Evidence produced before Solicitor General available. The evidence produced before the Solicitor General in his investigation may be considered by the Supreme Court in the final decision of the case, if the respondent had an opportunity to object and cross-examine. If in the respondent's answer no statement is made as to any intention of introducing additional evidence, the case shall be set down for hearing, upon the filing of such answer or upon the expiration of the time to file the same.

Section 7. Commissioner to investigate and recommend. Rules of evidence. Upon receipt of the respondent's answer, wherein a statement is made as to his desire to introduce additional evidence, the case shall be referred to a commissioner who, in the discretion of the court, may be the clerk of the Supreme Court, a judge of first instance, or an attorney-at-law for investigation, report, and recommendation. The Solicitor General or his representative shall appear before the commissioner to conduct the prosecution. The respondent shall be given full opportunity to defend himself, to produce additional evidence in his own behalf, and to be heard by himself and counsel. However, if upon reasonable notice the respondent fails to appear, the investigation shall proceed ex parte. The rules of evidence shall be applicable to proceedings of this nature.

Section 8. Report of commissioner and hearing. Upon receipt of the report of the commissioner, copies of which shall be furnished the Solicitor General and the respondent, the case shall be set down for hearing before the court, following which the case shall be considered submitted to the court for its final determination.

Section 9. Procedure in Court of Appeals or Courts of First Instance. As far as may be applicable, the procedure above outlined shall likewise govern the filing and investigation of complaints against attorneys in the Court of Appeals or in Courts of First Instance. In case of suspension of the respondent, the judge of the court of first instance or Justice of the Court of Appeals shall forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy of the order of suspension and a full statement of the facts upon which same is based.

Section 10. Confidential. Proceedings against attorneys shall be private and confidential, except that the final order of the court shall be made public as in other cases coming before the court.