2013 (Legal Ethics) Bar Exam Questions: Multiple Choice Question 12

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A Regional Trial Court issues a temporary restraining order (TRO) halting the demolition order issued by the City Mayor who has long loathed the cluster of shanties put up by informal settlers along the road leading to the city’s commercial district. The TRO, however, carried conditions that must be in place before the threatened demolition can be fully halted.

The city legal officer advised the City Engineer’s Office and the local PNP chief that the TRO’s conditions are not in place so that the demolition could proceed. The city filed a manifestation reflecting the city legal officer’s position, while the informal settlers’ counsel sought its own clarification and reconsideration from the court, which responded by decreeing that the conditions have been fulfilled. Despite this ruling, the city legal officer insisted that the conditions have not been fulfilled and thus gave the PNP clearance to aid the City Engineer’s Office in proceeding with the demolition.

From the perspective of professional ethics, how would you characterize the city legal officer’s actions? (1%)

(A) It is unethical since he counseled civil servants to disregard a court order.

(B) It is ethical, since he acted in accordance with his honest conviction after considering that the court’s conditions have not been met.

(C) It constitutes indirect contempt, but the lawyer cannot be disciplined because he acted out of his firm and honest conviction.

(D) It is neither contemptuous nor unethical since he was performing his duties as city legal officer.

(E) It is unethical since the City Legal Officer was simply blindly following the Mayor’s wishes.

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