By James Hernandez
The Supreme Court (SC) has decided not to accept petitions for clemency from disbarred lawyers within five years since being banned from the practice of law.
The SC Public Information Office (SCPIO) announced on Tuesday (July 13) that this is among the provisions of the new clemency guidelines that was recently approved by the tribunal.
The SCPIO said that under the new rules:”A lawyer who has been disbarred cannot file a petition for judicial clemency within a period of five years from the effective date of his or her disbarment, unless for the most compelling reasons based on extraordinary circumstances, a shorter period is warranted.”
“Upon the lapse of the said five-year period, or earlier if so permitted by the Court, a disbarred lawyer becomes eligible to file a verified petition for judicial clemency,” it added.
The SC will also dispense with the five-year requirement to petitions already filed prior the issuance of the new rules.
Once the petition for clemency has been filed, the tribunal will“conduct a preliminary evaluation and determine if the same has prima facie merit based on the criteria provided for by the Court.”
“The petition, together with its supporting evidence must show on its face that the following criteria have been met ― (a) petitioner has fully complied with the terms and conditions of all prior disciplinary orders, including orders for restitution, as well as the five-year period to file; (b) petitioner recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct for which he or she was disbarred; and (c) notwithstanding the conduct for which the disbarred lawyer was disciplined, the disbarred lawyer has the requite integrity and competence to practice law,” the SCPIO said.
Prior the new rules, the SCPIO said the tribunal relied on jurisprudence based on the 2007 case of “Re” Diaz” that framed the guidelines on judicial clemency.
“However, as per the procedure following the Re: Diaz guidelines, the Court, when resolving clemency cases, is not impelled to go beyond the 3 allegations in the petitions and written documents appended thereto. Institutionally, the Court is not a trier of facts; thus, it lacks the proper capability to probe into the finer details of the factual assertions made in a clemency petition. The Court also, on its own, cannot authenticate the person’s supporting evidence, or examine, under oath, the sincerity of the person seeking clemency, as well as of those who vouch for him or her,” the SCPIO explained.
“Without a proper fact-finding procedure, the Court is constrained to resolve a clemency petition based on a subjective – instead of an objective – analysis of the petition,” it added.