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SC metes out 3-year suspension on 2 lawyers

/ 12:56 AM August 10, 2016

THE SUPREME Court has meted three-year suspensions on two lawyers for charging a six-figure fee for an annulment case that they never filed.

Suspended for violation of the Code of Professional Responsiblity were lawyers Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles and Wylie Paler.  Cruz-Angeles used to represent a group of Magdalo soldiers as well as former Iglesia ni Cristo worker Lowell Menorca and recently, road rage suspect Vhon Martin Tanto.

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At a press conference, Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said the two lawyers were required to return to the complainant within 90 days the P350,000 legal fee they received.

“Failure to so comply will warrant the imposition of a heavier penalty,” Te said, quoting a portion of the high court’s ruling.

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A complaint was filed against Cruz-Angeles and Paler for receiving P350,000 as legal fee to handle an annulment case.

Despite follow-ups, the complainant said no petition for annulment was filed. The complainant said the lawyers gave various reasons why they failed to file the petition.

The complainant demanded the return of the legal fees but the lawyers refused. Instead, the complainant said he received a P45,000 billing statement for consultants.

Cruz-Angeles admitted receiving the P350,000 fee but denied she was remiss in her duties. She said the delay in the filing of the petition was because of the complainant’s failure to give the address of his estranged wife and present sufficient evidence.

Paler, on the other hand moved for the dismissal of the case, arguing it was only filed to avoid payment of attorney’s fees.

An investigating committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) found Cruz-Angeles and Paler administratively liable and recommended a four-month suspension from the practice of law. The recommendation was adopted by the IBP Board of Governors.

The Supreme Court upheld the IBP’s  recommendation to suspend the lawyers but opted to impose a higher penalty of three years.

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Cruz-Angeles, in her Facebook posts, said she would not argue the merits of her case but maintained that she was not accorded due process.

“However, I am an officer of the court and subject to its disciplines. I am also subject to the legal system. And I believe in that system. Even if it fails individuals, I do not believe that it fails society. Though it can stand improvement, there is no better way yet.”

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TAGS: Nation, News, Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles, Supreme Court, Wylie Paler
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