SC rules disbarred lawyer can seek reinstatement after 5 years

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The Supreme Court (SC) said on Tuesday a disbarred lawyer may seek reinstatement after five years under the new guidelines for judicial clemency.

In a statement, the SC ruled that a lawyer who has been disbarred cannot file a petition for judicial clemency within a period of five years from the effective date of disbarment.

Only a most compelling reason based on extraordinary circumstances may warrant a shorter period.

However, for pleas for judicial clemency for disbarred lawyers already filed at the time of the resolution, the SC may dispense with the five-year minimum requirement and in the interest of fairness, proceed with a preliminary evaluation of the petition.

The Court shall first conduct a preliminary evaluation and determine if the same has merit.

In applying for clemency, the petitioner must have 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; that the disbarred lawyer recognizes the wrongfulness and seriousness of the misconduct for which he or she was disbarred; and the disbarred lawyer has the requite integrity and competence to resume the practice law.

The new guidelines and procedures in petitions for judicial clemency are contained in the Court’s March 2, 2021 resolution that denied the petition of Romulo Ricafort, a disbarred lawyer who sought reinstatement.

Applying the guidelines, the Court held that Ricafort’s petitions failed to show prima facie merit based on foregoing observations and in consideration of the multiplicity of Ricafort’s infractions.

Three administrative disciplinary complaints were filed and resolved against Ricafort, all involving serious breaches of his fiduciary duties to his clients.

His service was engaged either in the sale or recovery of lot properties but he refused to remit to his clients the proceeds of the sales despite repeated demands.

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