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166 SCRA 316 Legal Ethics Contemptuous Language Duty of a Lawyer

Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan
for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Gonzales was the then
Tanodbayan who was investigating the case. Zaldivar then filed with the Supreme
Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus assailing the authority of
the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases under the 1987 Constitution. The Supreme
Court, acting on the petition issued a Cease and Desist Order against Gonzalez
directing him to temporarily restrain from investigating and filing informations against
Zaldivar.
Gonzales however proceeded with the investigation and he filed criminal
informations against Zaldivar. Gonzalez even had a newspaper interview where he
proudly claims that he scored one on the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Courts
issuance of the TRO is a manifestation theta the rich and influential persons get
favorable actions from the Supreme Court, [while] it is difficult for an ordinary litigant
to get his petition to be given due course.
Zaldivar then filed a Motion for Contempt against Gonzalez. The Supreme Court
then ordered Gonzalez to explain his side. Gonzalez stated that the statements in
the newspapers were true; that he was only exercising his freedom of speech; that
he is entitled to criticize the rulings of the Court, to point out where he feels the Court
may have lapsed into error. He also said, even attaching notes, that not less than six
justices of the Supreme Court have approached him to ask him to go slow on
Zaldivar and to not embarrass the Supreme Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not Gonzalez is guilty of contempt.


HELD: Yes. The statements made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute
contempt and call for the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court.
His statements necessarily imply that the justices of the Supreme Court betrayed
their oath of office. Such statements constitute the grossest kind of disrespect for the
Supreme Court. Such statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme
Court and, through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in the
country.
Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. What Gonzalez
seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional
freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be
adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public
interests. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the
integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There is no antinomy
between free expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice.
Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special
Prosecutor who owes duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to the
Supreme Court as the embodiment and the repository of the judicial power in the
government of the Republic. The responsibility of Gonzalez to uphold the dignity and
authority of the Supreme Court and not to promote distrust in the administration of
justice is heavier than that of a private practicing lawyer.
Gonzalez is also entitled to criticize the rulings of the court but his criticisms must be
bona fide. In the case at bar, his statements, particularly the one where he alleged
that members of the Supreme Court approached him, are of no relation to the
Zaldivar case.
The Supreme Court suspended Gonzalez indefinitely from the practice of law.

G.R. Nos. 79690-707 October 7, 1988ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR vs. RAUL M.


GONZALEZ,

FACTS:

The following are the subjects of this Resolution filed by the Petitioner : a Motion,
dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar
against public respondent Special Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan)Raul M.
Gonzalez, in connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578. and a
Resolution of this Court dated 2May 1988 requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez
to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to
administrative sanctions for making certain public statements. The Motion cited as
bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing of the
information against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 12570 before the
Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous statements to the
media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the latter,
petitioner annexed to his Motion a photocopy of a news article which appeared in the
30 November 1987 issue of the "Philippine Daily Globe."

ISSUE:

Are lawyers entitled to the same degree of latitude of freedom of speech towards the
Court?

RULING:

No. The Court begins by referring to the authority to discipline officers of the court
and members of the Bar. The authority to discipline lawyers stems from the Court's
constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as
well authority to regulate the practice itself of law. Moreover, the Supreme Court has
inherent power to punish for contempt, to control in the furtherance of justice the
conduct of ministerial officers of the Court including lawyers and all other persons
connected in any manner with a case before the Court. Only slightly (if at all) less
important is the public interest in the capacity of the Court effectively to prevent and
control professional misconduct on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost,
indispensable participants in the task of rendering justice to every man. Some courts
have held, persuasively it appears to us, and that a lawyer's right of free expression
may have to be more limited than that of a layman. While the Court may allow
criticism it has In Re: Almacen held: Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross
violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is such a misconduct that subjects a
lawyer to disciplinary action. The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to
the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion
of their clients' rights, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to
rein up their tempers.