Apr 182013

Despite being suspended in 2009 for leaking a draft court ruling, 74-year-old retired Supreme Court Justice Ruben Reyes can once more practice law.

In an en banc session in Baguio City last Tuesday, the 15 magistrates decided to give back to Reyes his license in the Bar and allowed him to engage anew in private law practice.

“SC lifts suspension on law practice previously imposed on retired SC Justice Ruben Reyes for, among others, humanitarian reasons,” said SC spokesman and Public Information Office chief Theodore Te on Thursday.

However, Te clarified that the disqualification for government employment and teaching “still remains.”

The court said Reyes still cannot give government lectures on Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) and the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja).

Still being barred from government service, the court clarified that Reyes can only practice law in private corporations.

In August 2009, Reyes was found guilty of leaking a draft SC resolution which he penned in the disqualification case against Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong filed by businessman Louis Biraogo, Olivia Paras, and Renald Villando.

The election protest – questioning Limkaichong’s citizenship – was entertained but was allegedly supposed to have been dismissed by the Supreme Court en banc after 14 justices, minus then-SC chief Reynato Puno, signed a draft decision for it.

The draft ruling, however, was leaked while it was not yet being promulgated. 

An SC investigating committee, chaired by then-Senior Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, probed the incident and found out that it was Reyes himself who leaked a photocopy of the draft ruling.

The photocopy fell into the hands of Biraogo, one of the petitioners, who then distributed copies of it to the media.

Apart from being barred to practice law, Reyes was also ordered to pay a fine of P500,000, which was charged against his retirement benefits.

Reyes, a Bulacan native, served as associate justice of the high tribunal from 2007 to 2009.

Prior to that, he had once tried his hand in private law practice before becoming a city prosecutor of Manila, and a trial court judge in Batangas and also in Manila. — RSJ, GMA News

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