A prominent lawyer was suspended by the Supreme Court for alleged violations of Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) filed by a man who wanted his marriage nullified.

Atty. Berteni Causing was found by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) guilty and was suspended from practicing law by the high court for one year and was “sternly warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.”

The administrative case stemmed from the complaint for disbarment filed by Enrico R. Velasco against Causing before the IBP for alleged violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

The suspension in the practice of law shall take immediately upon receipt of the decision by respondent Causing, the court said. He was also directed to immediately file a manifestation to the court that his suspension has started, copy furnished all courts and quasi-judicial bodies where he has entered his appearance as counsel.

On April 7, 2016, Causing sent a direct message to complainant’s son, Jomel A. Velasco, through Facebook.

Causing is the counsel of Nina Ricci Narvaez Laudato pending before Branch 3, Regional Trial Court, Balanga City, Bataan. She was the respondent in a case filed by Velasco, asking the court to declare their marriage null and void.

In his report and recommendation, investigating commissioner Jose Alfonso M. Gomos found that Causing breached the rule on the privacy and confidentiality of Family Court proceedings with his postings in the social media. The investigator held that Causing’s contentions that he was only acting in his capacity as the “spokesman-lawyer” of his client, or that he was merely exercising his right to press freedom as a “journalist-blogger” did not justify his violation of the CPR 16.

Causing, the Court noted, “had clearly violated Section 1221 of Republic Act No. 8369, or the Family Courts Act of 1997, which prohibits the publication or disclosure, in any manner, of the records of Family Court cases. This is, in itself, a breach of his duties under Canon 1 as well as Canon 13 and Rule 13.02 of the CPR as the subject post not only disclosed confidential information regarding the nullity case, but also included his own, strongly-worded opinion regarding complainant’s character and the circumstances surrounding the case.”