SC disbars lawyer who claims he can bribe CA justices
The Supreme Court has had it with a lawyer who had once been suspended for serious misconduct and then snubbed an investigation of another alleged wrongdoing in which he claimed that he could bribe appellate justices to overturn the drug conviction of a client’s son for P160,000.
In a decision authored by Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao, the high tribunal disbarred William Delos Santos and ordered him to return the money he got from his client, plus a 6-percent interest, according to a summary of the ruling released on Thursday.
A woman, Norma Flores, had filed a complaint in the Supreme Court seeking to disbar Delos Santos after he failed to give her money back when the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed her son’s conviction on charges of selling and possessing illegal drugs.
She said that sometime in 2015, Delos Santos “coaxed” her into giving him P160,000 that he could use to pay off the CA justices who were hearing an appeal of the Manila Regional Trial Court’s ruling on her son’s case.
Delos Santos allegedly told Flores that it was the “only option” to get a favorable judgment for her son.
But to her dismay, the CA affirmed her son’s conviction.
Flores then confronted Delos Santos, who told her that he did not know what happened. He insisted that he had made “the necessary arrangement with the justices, including his facilitator inside the Court of Appeals,” the Supreme Court said.
Delos Santos promised Flores he would return her money, but he didn’t, prompting her to file the complaint. In response, the Supreme Court directed Delos Santos to comment on her allegations.
When he failed to comply, the court referred his case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and recommendation.
Despite due notice, Delos Santos failed to attend a mandatory conference and to submit the required pleadings. Following this, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found him liable for gross misconduct and recommended his disbarment.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted the Investigating Commissioner’s recommendation but modified the penalty—ordering Delos Santos to return the P160,000, with legal interest, to Flores.
The Supreme Court said that Delos Santos’ failure to comply with its notice of resolution, which required him to comment on the complaint, gave credence to the allegations against him.
It said that his “obstinate snobbery to comply with [the Court’s and the IBP’s] orders not only betrays a recalcitrant flaw in his character, [but] also underscores his disrespect of lawful orders which is only too deserving of reproof.”
The Court also noted his previous suspension from practicing law in another case where he was found to have engaged in “unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.”
“Hence, on account of his previous suspension and his evident violations of the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility in the present case, the Court stressed that he deserved no less than the ultimate penalty of disbarment,” the Supreme Court said.
According to Supreme Court spokesperson Brian Hosaka, a motion for reconsideration may be filed within the “reglementary period” of 15 days after receiving a copy of the decision.