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Obstructing access to evidence or altering, destroying, or concealing evidence, C2S9 CPRA

Section 9, Canon II

SECTION 9. Obstructing access to evidence or altering, destroying, or concealing evidence. – A lawyer shall not obstruct another lawyer’s access to evidence during trial, including testimonial evidence, or alter, destroy, or conceal evidence. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. Obstructing access to evidence or altering, destroying, or concealing evidence

a. No obstructing another lawyer’s access to evidence during trial

During trial, lawyers are prohibited from:

1) Obstructing another lawyer’s access to evidence including testimonial evidence; or

2) Altering, destroying, or concealing evidence.

As an officer of the court, a lawyer is part of the machinery in the administration of justice. A lawyer should not only help attain the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct, and inexpensive adjudication of cases and prompt satisfaction of final judgments, but should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that may impede, obstruct, or prevent the realization of a speedy and efficient administration of justice. (Delos Santos v. Barbosa, A.C. No. 6681, 17 June 2015)

1) Obstructing another lawyer’s access to evidence

During trial, lawyers may discover or require newly discovered evidence that was not known or available during discovery and the opposing party is in possession thereof. In such circumstances, the opposing counsel should not obstruct the presentation of such evidence, whether they be in the form of object, documentary, or testimonial.

2) Altering, destroying, or concealing evidence

Lawyers are prohibited from altering, destroying, or concealing evidence.

The primary duty of lawyers is not to their clients but to the administration of justice. To that end, their clients’ success is wholly subordinate. The conduct of a member of the bar ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest which is resorted to by the lawyer, even in the pursuit of his devotion to his client’s cause, is condemnable and unethical. (Dumlao v. Camacho, A.C. No. 10498, 04 September 2018)

References

Canon II, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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