Seares: Larry Gadon’s ouster from law practice too harsh? 2021 video attack on journalist Raissa Robles seen as ‘shocking, horrific’: cuss words, ‘abusive’ insults, like telling her to have sex with a dog. Indisputably scandalous, Supreme Court says in 15-0 vote.

PAS-NPO28 (28/june/23)

[Images of (1) Supreme

Court news clip headline and

(2) Atty. Larry Gadon]

ATTY. Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon didn’t dispute that he did what he was accused of: namely, violating the code of conduct for lawyers, which requires members of the law profession to uphold its “dignity and respect. In December 2021, he cussed and insulted journalist Raissa Robles in a video clip that he later circulated on social media.

The Supreme Court resolution, released Wednesday (June 28, 2023), found the Gadon rant — filmed by himself in his car — “indisputably scandalous that discredit the legal profession.” The Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability, under Canon II on Propriety, directs lawyers “to act, at all times, with propriety and maintain the appearance of propriety in personal and professional dealings, observe honesty, respect and courtesy, and uphold the dignity of the profession consistent with the high standards of ethical behavior.”

The SC, using that standard, unanimously voted, 15-0, that Gadon behaved like s**t and should be ousted as a member of the bar. The cuss words and phrases unleashed at Robles included “p**ang ina mo” and the insults topped by “go f***k a dog.”

Galon — reacting to the decision promulgated Tuesday, June 27, which his source leaked to him before the SC’s news release the next day — said the penalty was “too harsh” and he’d file a motion for reconsideration.

WHEN IS PENALTY HARSH? Justices usually don’t change their mind about the guilt of a person they judge on but, at times, change their mind about the penalty. Would they reconsider disbarment, maybe scale it down to suspension for a number of years?

That will depend on the collective mood of the justices and perhaps what court watchers call “some supervening event.” As of Tuesday, June 27, when they promulgated the resolution, the justices had the facts and the law to find Gadon guilty and no empathy to slap him with the highest penalty: disbarment. They must have seen him as an incorrigible serial offender in vulgarity and disrespect.

Obscured by the main offense was the court finding that Gadon also committed contempt for casting aspersion on some justices. And the resolution cited even some pending cases of disbarment against the lawyer, some of which he probably still has to give his side.

CEBU LAWYERS DISBARRED. To check partly on harshness of disbarment as penalty, look at the offenses of some Cebu lawyers whom the SC had earlier stripped of the license to practice law:

[] A Mandaue City assitant legal officer disbarred in July 2019 for “gross immorality”: he abandoned his family and lived with his mistress.

[] A Cebu City lawyer, son of a former high city official, disbarred in January 2018 for deceit and gross unethical conduct: he used his client’s real estate as collateral for a bail bond.

[] A lawyer in Cebu disbarred in February 2015 for murdering a man: his penalty in the RTC was reclusion perpetua, which the SC downgraded to homicide; homicide, the high court later ruled on a petition for disbarment, involved moral turpitude.

THE APPOINTMENT FACTOR. A number of news headlines on the Gadon disbarment included his appointment as presidential adviser for poverty alleviation. Such as: “SC disbars Marcos adviser”; “Gadon, newly appointed presidential adviser on poverty alleviation…”

That was inevitable. His new and high-profile job, which indicates he’s close to and trusted by the president, cannot be omitted from the story. The timing of the SC resolution was also relevant, as the appointment had just been made.

Gadon also on Wednesday said he’d continue with his “adviser” work, saying the SC decision has “no bearing” on it since the Malacanang post does not need a lawyer — as if the position doesn’t require proper conduct: “honesty, respect and courtesy.”

He must have taken cue from Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin who earlier said Gadon could stay as the president “believes he can do a good job.” If the position requires stout defense of the chief executive, Gadon showed that in his scrimmage with journalist Robles who, he alleged, spread lies about President Marcos Jr. during the 2022 campaign. That explained his outburst, the lawyer said.

He has no regrets, he said after the ruling. “My president won,” he said, and apparently watching his back.

MUST HAVE SEEN IT COMING. Last January 3, 2022, less than a month after the video assault on Robles, the SC preventively suspended Atty. Gadon from the practice of law. In the same order, the high court gave Gadon 10 days to file his comment, noting that there are numerous disbarment cases against him “where he displayed the same controversial behavior despite previous warnings.” The SC said it received several reports urging the court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to discipline Gadon. “The call of the public did not fall on deaf ears and the court immediately took action.”

The lawyer’s reputation of short temper and vulgar language, plus the recorded complaints that resulted from his curses and insults should’ve told him that the SC was about to lower the boom where he’s most vulnerable: his being a member of the bar and his law practice.

The complaint was motu propio (on the court’s own initiative) and the vote for Gadon was zero reflected in the SC justices’ response to his behavior. The SC verdict must not have been a surprise anymore.

‘POLITICS’ IN DECISION. In his public reactions to the SC news, Gadon didn’t try to refute the basis of the court’s decision to evict him from law practice. But he struck at the court’s motive and alleged bias of some justices, hinting that the court collectively went after him for his role in ousting a chief justice.

In an interview with ANC’s “Headstart,” he said the decision was “political,” saying the high court is “choosy,” perhaps suggesting that it picked the case against him for early resolution and resolving it just after he was appointed as presidential adviser.