2013 Legal Ethics Exam Essay Questions

October 27, 2013
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I.

Atty. Bravo represents Carlos Negar (an insurance agent for Dormir Insurance Co.) in a suit filed by insurance claimant Andy Limot who also sued Dormir Insurance. The insurance policy requires the insured/claimant to give a written notice to the insurance company or its agent within 60 days from the occurrence of the loss.

Limot testified during the trial that he had mailed the notice of the loss to the insurance agent, but admitted that he lost the registry receipt so that he did not have any documentary evidence of the fact of mailing and of the timeliness of the mailed notice. Dormir Insurance denied liability, contending that timely notice had not been given either to the company or its agent. Atty. Bravo’s client, agent Negar, testified and confirmed that he never received any notice.

A few days after Negar testified, he admitted to Atty. Bravo that he had lied when he denied receipt of Limot’s notice; he did receive the notice by mail but immediately shredded it to defeat Limot’s claim.

If you were Atty. Bravo, what would you do in light of your client’s(Carlos Negar’s) disclosure that he perjured himself when he testified? (8%)

II.

Atty. Serafin Roto is the Corporate Secretary of a construction corporation that has secured a multi-million infrastructure project from the government. In the course of his duties as corporate secretary, he learned from the company president that the corporation had resorted to bribery to secure the project and had falsified records to cut implementing costs after the award of the project.

The government filed a civil action to annul the infrastructure contract and has subpoenaed Atty. Roto to testify against the company president and the corporation regarding the bribery. Atty. Roto moved to quash the subpoena, asserting that lawyer-client privilege prevents him from testifying against the president and the corporation.

Resolve the motion to quash. (8%)

III.

Miguel Jactar, a fourth year law student, drove his vehicle recklessly and hit the rear bumper of Simplicio Medroso’s vehicle. Instead of stopping, Jactar accelerated and sped away. Medroso pursued Jactar and caught up with him at an intersection.

In their confrontation, Jactar dared Medroso to sue, bragged about his connections with the courts, and even uttered veiled threats against Medroso. During the police investigation that followed, Medroso learned that Jactar was reviewing for the Bar examinations.

Under these facts, list and justify the potential objections that can be made against Jactar’s admission to the practice of law. (8%)

IV.

Atty. Doblar represents Eva in a contract suit against Olga. He is also defending Marla in a substantially identical contract suit filed by Emma. In behalf of Eva, Atty. Doblar claims that the statute of limitations runs from the time of the breach of the contract. In the action against Marla, Atty. Doblar now argues the reverse position – i.e., that the statute of limitation does not run until one year after discovery of the breach.

Both cases are assigned to Judge Elrey. Although not the sole issue in the two cases, the statute of limitations issue is critical in both.

Is there an ethical/professional responsibility problem in this situation? If a problem exists, what are its implications or potential consequences? (8%)

V.

Atty. Repatriar, a law school classmate, approached you on your 25th Class Reunion, with questions on how he can resume the practice of law in the Philippines. He left the country in 1977 after two (2) years of initial law practice, and migrated to the United States where he was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York. He asks that you give him a formal legal opinion on his query.

Outline briefly the steps and the supporting legal reasons you would state in your legal opinion on what Atty. Repatriar should do to resume his Philippine practice. (8%)

VI.

An audit team from the Office of the Court Administrator found that Judge Contaminada committed serious infractions through the indiscriminate grant of  petitions for annulment of marriage and legal separation. In one year, the judge granted 300 of such petitions when the average number of petitions of similar nature granted by an individual judge in his region was only 24 petitions per annum.

The audit revealed many different defects in the granted petitions: many petitions had not been verified; the required copies of some petitions were not furnished to the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor; docket fees had not been fully paid; the parties were not actual residents within the territorial jurisdiction of the court; and, in some cases, there was no record of the cross-examinations conducted by the public prosecutor or any documentary evidence marked and formally offered. All these, viewed in their totality, supported the improvident and indiscriminate grant that the OCA found.

If you were the counsel for Andy Malasuerte and other litigants whose marriages had been improperly and finally annulled, discuss your options in administratively proceeding against Judge Contaminada, and state where and how you would exercise these options. (8%)

VII.

In an action to prevent the condominium developer from building beyond ten (10) floors, Judge Cerdo rendered judgment in favor of the defendant developer. The judgment became final after the plaintiffs failed to appeal on time. Judge Cerdo and Atty. Cocodrilo, counsel for the developer, thereafter separately purchased a condominium unit each from the developer.

Did Judge Cerdo and Atty. Cocodrilo commit any act of impropriety or violate any law for which they should be held liable or sanctioned? (8%)

VIII.

The criminal case arising from the P10-Billion Peso pork barrel scandal was raffled to Sandiganbayan Justice Marciano Cobarde. Afraid that he would antagonize the parties, his political patrons and, ultimately, his judicial career, he decided to inhibit from participating in the case, giving “personal reasons” as his justification.

If you were to question the inhibition of SB Justice Cobarde, on what legal basis, and where and how will you do this? (8%)

IX.

Atty. Hermano requested his fraternity brother, Judge Patron, to introduce him to Judge Apestado, before whom he has a case that had been pending for some time.

Judge Patron, a close friend of Judge Apestado, acceded to the request, telling the latter that Atty. Hermano is his fraternity “brod” and that Atty. Hermano simply wanted to ask for advice on how to expedite the resolution of his case. They met, as arranged, in the fine dining restaurant of a five-star hotel. Atty. Hermano hosted the dinner.

Did Atty. Hermano, Judge Patron and Judge Apestado commit any ethical/administrative violation for which they can be held liable? (8%)

X.

As a new lawyer, Attorney Novato started with a practice limited to small claims cases, legal counseling, and notarization of documents. He put up a solo practice law office and was assisted by his wife who served as his secretary/helper. He used a makeshift hut in a vacant lot near the local courts and a local transport regulatory agency. With this strategic location, he enjoyed heavy patronage assisting walk-in clients in the preparation and filing of pleadings and in the preparation and notarization of contracts and documents. He had the foresight of investing in a good heavy duty copier machine that reproduces quality documents, and charges a reasonable fee for this service. He draws electric power from an extension wire connected to an adjoining small restaurant. He put up a shingle that reads: “Atty. Novato, Specialist in Small Claims, Fastest in Notarization; the Best and Cheapest in Copier Services.”

Is Attorney Novato’s manner of carrying out his professional practice – i.e., mixing business with the practice of law, announcing his activities via a shingle and locating his office as above-described – in keeping with appropriate ethical and professional practice? (8%)

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