Spouses Aranda vs Atty. Emmanuel Elayda
Legal Ethics – Legal Profession – Negligence of Counsel
In 2006, Atty. Emmanuel Elayda was hired by Spouses Virgilio and Angelina Aranda to be their counsel in a civil case. However, to their surprise in July 2006, an adverse judgment was issued against them, thus they lost possession of their car. Apparently, their counsel never appeared in court for them. Atty. Elayda failed to inform the spouses of the date of hearing as well as the order of judgment. No motion for reconsideration or appeal was interposed by the lawyer as well.
In his defense, Atty. Elayda said that it was the spouses who never went to court; that the spouses neglected to check on their case in court; that one time when their case was scheduled, he even notified the court stenographer to notify him if the spouses are in court so that he could be there for them as he was in another court branch for another case.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Elayda should be disciplined.
HELD: Yes. It was established that Atty. Elayda was remiss and negligent in handling the Aranda case. Although it is true that the client and their counsel must equally share the burden of communication, it is the primary duty of the counsel to inform the client of the status of their case in court and the orders which have been issued by the court. He cannot simply wait for his clients to make an inquiry about the developments in their case. Close coordination between counsel and client is necessary for them to adequately prepare for the case, as well as to effectively monitor the progress of the case. Also, his excuse that he did not appear in court because the spouses failed to appear in court is not tenable. His attendance at the hearing should not be made to depend on the whether the spouses Aranda will come or not.
The IBP Board of Governors recommended a 6 month suspension. This was adopted by the court.
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