Cold comfort
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph T. Gonzales (The Freeman) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

Here are more members of the Bar that will spawn more of those awful lawyer jokes.

This November, the Supreme Court disbarred Amador Peleo III for several offenses. First, he, a married man, reportedly had an affair with his client Marife Venzon, while handling the annulment of her previous marriage.

Attorney-client relationships can be quite intense, as theirs proved (funny, my clients never want me to take my clothes off). Their liaison resulted in a love child, which led to the conundrum - what to place in the birth certificate? Swallowing the risk, he signed on as not only the father of the child, but also her husband - meaning he falsified the certificate.

During the course of the kid's childhood, he refused to support the kid. While he initially gave them an apartment, he stopped supporting them at one point. Even with a brokered deal from the Integrated Bar (which leads one to wonder how the IBP became a family counseling center), where he undertook to live up to his responsibilities, he eventually reneged.

That IBP deal should have already rung alarm bells, as he was setting himself up for disciplinary action. True enough, when his dirty laundry was brought before the high court, the verdict was disbarment! As the court itself noted, his actions allow the public "to entertain themselves with jokes about lawyers and the legal profession as the butt of their unflattering jokes".

And as if that drama wasn't enough, Peleo also availed of the senior citizen's discount in public establishments even when he wasn't 60 yet. Now that can really draw ridicule and derision, because the 20% discount is a sore point for many establishments trying to survive. And here comes a supposedly respectable professional trying to rip businessmen off? Not a good image for lawyers.

Even judges have drawn unwanted attention. Judge Nelson Largo of Cabanatuan City parked illegally in Baguio city, then flared up when his license plates were confiscated and he was ticketed by enforcers. He had to settle the fine to recover his plates.

He later issued a subpoena to the Baguio traffic enforcement chief, requiring those traffic pesks to respond why they shouldn't be cited in contempt. Per news reports, Largo's stance was that the time in settling the traffic row resulted in a delay of his scheduled hearings and administration of justice. Hence, the charge for indirect contempt.

His analysis might trigger an adverse reaction from the public. In legal parlance, there will be a "chilling effect". (Don't ask me why that's a legal term - It's just used so popularly in Supreme Court cases, even in America! You will find Constitutional law cases littered with chilling effects. There's practically an ice plant within those legal tomes.)

It will be natural for non-lawyers to think, if one judge is liable to use his powers to seek redress for a personal grievance, then other judges might do the same. So, the thought process will go, "we should tiptoe around judges to make sure they don't subpoena us and cite us in contempt." Which isn’t how civilized society should react to judges.

Judges are supposed to be honorable, upstanding citizens, chosen for their credentials and legal acumen. They're supposed to trigger, hopefully, reverence, respect, even awe. They are not supposed to be a murdering, thieving lot, petty boors, or depraved monsters. But as with lawyers, anytime bad publicity hits one judge, all other get tainted, and the whole profession is saddled with that dirt.

These horror stories should inform the actions of lawyers and judges on a daily basis. The mantra should be, "chill." Which doesn't necessarily mean, don't be hot-tempered. It could also mean, the leading of their lives on an even keel, avoiding controversy and criminal conduct.

On that note, let me think about how to deal with lawyers who are beauty queens.

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