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Section 3 Rules of Court. Admissibility of evidence- Evidence is admissible when it is relevant to the issue and is not excluded by law or these rules.  

 

I. Introduction.

A. Admissibility- the character or quality which any material must necessarily possess for it to be accepted and allowed to  be presented or introduced as evidence in court. It answers the question: should the court allow the material to be used as evidence by the party?  

 

B. Weight- the value given or significance or impact, or importance given to the material after it has been admitted; its tendency to convince or persuade. Hence a particular evidence may be admissible but it has no weight. Conversely, an evidence may be of great weight or importance but it is not admissible. 

 

II. Conditions for admissibility (Axioms of admissibility per Wigmore)

 

A. RELEVANCY (None but facts having rational probative value are admissible). Per section 4, “Evidence must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or non-existence”.

 

1. The material presented as evidence must affect the issue or question. It must have a bearing on the outcome of the case. It requires both:

a). rational or logical relevancy in that it has a connection to the issue and therefore it has a tendency to establish the fact which it is offered to prove. The evidence must therefore have probative value   

b). legal relevancy in that the evidence is offered to prove a matter which has been properly put in issue as determined by the pleadings in civil cases, or as fixed by the pre-trial order, or as determined by substantive law. If so the matter has materiality.

 

Illustration: (i).  Criminal case: the fact that the crime was committed at nighttime is rationally or logically relevant to a killing at 12 midnight but evidence thereon would be not be legally relevant if nighttime was not alleged in the Information. It would be immaterial. (ii) Civil Case: In an action for sum of money based on a promissory note, evidence that the defendant was misled into signing the note would be rationally relevant but if fraud was never alleged as a defense, then evidence thereof would be legally irrelevant or immaterial.   

    

      The components of relevancy are therefore probative value and materiality.

 

2. Rule as to collateral matters: “Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed, except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the probability or improbability of the facts in issue”  

 

a). collateral matters-facts or matters which are not in issue. They are not generally allowed to be proven except when relevant.

b) In criminal cases, the collateral matters allowed to be proven, being relevant include:

(i). Antecedent Circumstances, or those in existing even prior to the commission of the crime. They include such matters as habit, custom, bad moral character when self defense is invoked; or plan design, conspiracy, or premeditation, agreement to a price, promise or reward

(ii) Concomitant circumstances or those which accompany the commission of the crime such as opportunity to do the act or incompatibility 

(iii).Subsequent circumstances or those which occur after the commission of the crime, such as flight, escape, concealment, offer of compromise

              

c). Example: Motive is generally irrelevant and proof thereof is not allowed except: when the evidence is purely circumstantial, when there is doubt as to the identity of the accused, or when it is an element of the crime.               

   

B. COMPETENCY ( All facts having rational probative value are admissible unless some specific law or rule forbids). In short the evidence is not excluded by law or rules.

 

III.  Principles which exclude relevant or material evidence:

 

A. The Exclusionary Rule Principle - the principle which mandates that evidence obtained from an illegal arrest, unreasonable search or coercive investigation, or in violation of a particular law, must be excluded from the trial and will not be admitted as evidence.

1. The principle judges the admissibility of evidence based on HOW the evidence is obtained or acquired and not WHAT the evidence proves.    

 2. The principle is to be applied only if it is so expressly provided for by the constitution or by a particular law. Even if the manner of obtaining the evidence is in violation of a certain law but the law does not declare that the evidence is inadmissible, then such evidence will be admissible.

 

Example: The accused claimed that information about his bank accounts i.e. trust funds, was obtained in violation of the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law ( R.A. 1405) and moved to have them be excluded as evidence. HELD: R.A. 1405 nowhere provides that an unlawful examination of bank accounts shall render the evidence there from inadmissible in evidence. If Congress has both established a right and provided exclusive remedies for its violation, the court would encroaching upon the prerogatives of congress if it authorizes a remedy not provided for by statute. Absent a specific reference to an exclusionary rule, it is not appropriate for the courts to read such a provision into the act. ( Ejercito vs. Sandiganbayan, 509 SCRA 190, Nov. 30, 2006).

 

3. The phrase is attributed to Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme and has its biblical reference to Mathew 7: 17-20.

 

B. The Doctrine of the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

 

1. Evidence will be excluded if it was gained through evidence uncovered in an illegal arrest, unreasonable search or coercive interrogation, or violation of a particular exclusionary law.

2. It is an offshoot of the Exclusionary Rule which applies to primary evidence. The doctrine applies only to secondary or derivative evidence. There must first be a primary evidence which is determined to have been illegally obtained then secondary evidence is obtained because of the primary evidence. Since the primary evidence is inadmissible, any secondary evidence discovered or obtained because of it may not also be used.

a. The poisonous tree is the evidence seized in an illegal arrest, search or interrogation. The fruit of this poisonous tree is evidence discovered because of knowledge gained from the first illegal search, arrest, or interrogation or violation of a law.

b. It is based on the principle that evidence illegally obtained by the state should not be used to gain other evidence because the original illegally obtained evidence taints all those subsequently obtained.   

 

C Illustrations:

 

A suspect as forced to make a confession where he revealed he took shabu from the room of X. Based on this knowledge the police went to the house of X and with the consent of X, searched his room and found the shabu. The confession is inadmissible because of the exclusionary. It is the poisoned tree. The shabu is inadmissible because knowledge of its existence was based on the confession. It is the fruit.

 

D. Exceptions to the two principles- when evidence is still admissible despite the commission of an illegal arrest, search or interrogation, or violation of a particular exclusionary law. 

 

1. Under the Doctrine of Inevitable Discovery- Evidence is admissible even if obtained through an unlawful arrest, search, interrogation, or violation of an exclusionary law, if it can be established, to a very high degree of probability, that normal police investigation would have inevitably led to the discovery of the evidence  

 

2. Independent Source Doctrine- evidence is admissible if knowledge of the evidence is gained from a separate or independent source that is completely unrelated to the illegal act of the law enforcers.   

 

3. Attentuation Doctrine: evidence maybe suppressed only if there is a clear causal connection between the illegal police action and the evidence. Or, that the chain of causation between the illegal action and the tainted evidence is too attenuated i.e too thin, weak, decreased or fragile. This takes into consideration the following factors:

 

a). The time period between the illegal arrest and the ensuing confession or consented search

b). The presence of intervening factors or events

c). The purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct

 

    E. Remedy : By filing a Motion to Suppress the Evidence

 

III. Evidence Excluded by the Constitution

 

A. Under Article III of the Constitution the following evidence are inadmissible

1. evidence obtained in violation of the right against unreasonable search and seizure

2. evidence obtained in violation of the privacy of communication and correspondence, except upon lawful order of the court or when public safety or order requires otherwise  

3. evidence consisting of extra-judicial confessions which are uncounselled, or when the confessant was not properly informed of his constitutional rights, or when the confession was coerced 

4. evidence obtained in violation of  the right against self-incrimination

 

B. Principles:

 

1. The exclusionary rule in all the foregoing provisions is TOTAL in that the inadmissibility or incompetency applies to all cases, whether civil criminal or administrative, and for all purposes.

2. The incompetency applies only if the evidence was obtained by law enforcers or other authorized agencies of the government. It does not apply if the evidence was obtained by private persons such as private security personnel or private detectives even if they perform functions similar to the police whenever a crime was committed.  

a).  Thus evidence obtained by the following are not covered by the constitutional  provisions: (i) the security personnel or house detectives of hotels or commercial establishments or schools (ii) private security agencies even if they are guarding public or government buildings/offices (iii) employers and their agents.

 

It will be some other appropriate principle on the admissibility of evidence which will govern. 

 

b). However, by way of exception, the rule of incompetency applies if what are involved are the private correspondence of an individual. In Zulueta vs. CA ( Feb. 1986) it was held that pictures and love letters proving the infidelity of the husband, kept by him in his private clinic, taken by the wife without the knowledge of the husband, are inadmissible as evidence for being obtained in violation of the husband’s privacy of communication and correspondence.

“ The intimacies between husband and wife do not justify anyone of them breaking the drawers and cabinet of the other and ransacking them for any telltale evidence of marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his or her integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional protection is available to him or her”

    

3. Secondary evidence resulting from a violation of the foregoing provisions is inadmissible under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine.  

 

IV. R.A. 4200 ( The Anti Wire Tapping Law) Exclusion as to evidence obtained through mechanical, electronic or other surveillance or intercepting devises. (Intercepted communications)

 

A.  Coverage: R.A 4200 declares that evidence is inadmissible if obtained through any of the following ways:

 

1. By using any device to secretly eavesdrop, overhear, intercept or record any communication or spoken word

 

a. The person who obtained the evidence may be a third person or a participant in the conversation or communication.

 

FACTS: Ramirez and Garcia had a confrontation in the office of Garcia. Ramirez secretly taped their verbal confrontation and used it as evidence in her action for damages against Garcia who in turn filed a criminal case against Ramirez for violation of R.A. 4200. Ramirez held that the taping by a participant to a conversation is not covered by the law.

 

HELD: 1. The law does not make a distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized is a party or not to the private conversation. 2. The nature of the conversation is immaterial… What is penalized is the act of secretly overhearing, intercepting, or recording private communications by the devices enumerate under Section 1. (Ramirez vs. C.A., September 28, 1995)

 

b. To be admissible the consent of the person speaking or of all the parties to the conversation. However consent is not necessary if the words which were taped or recorded were not intended to be confidential as when the were intended to be heard by an audience or when uttered under circumstances of time, place, occasion and similar circumstances  whereby it may reasonably be inferred that the conversation was  without regard to the  presence of third persons.

 

c. Questions:

i). Does this apply if the recording of the words was unintentional or inadvertent, such as conversations captured by a moving video camera?  

ii). Are conversations in a police entrapment included?

iii). Is lip-reading included?

iv). Are conversations captured in surveillance cameras included?

v). Does this apply to secret taping through spy cameras purposely made to be aired in television programs, such as “Bitag”, “XXX” and “Cheaters”?

vi). Are the gestures, snores, laughs, weeping, included as communication or spoken words?

vii). What about satellite discs and similar facilities? Google earth?   

 

2. By the unauthorized tapping of any wire or cable as to communications used via telephone/cable, as opposed to verbal communications.

 

a). There must be a physical interruption through a wiretap or the deliberate installation of a device or arrangement in order to over hear, intercept, or record the spoken words. 

i). hence over hearing through an extension telephone wire is not included even if intentional because “ each party to a telephone conversation takes the risk that the other party may have an extension telephone and may allow another to overhear the conversation ( Ganaan vs. IAC, 1986)

 ii). Does the Ganaan ruling apply to overhearing by telephone operators of hotels, schools, hospitals and similar establishments?

 

B. Exceptions: when evidence through secret recording or tapping is admissible

 

1. When Judicial Authorization was granted upon a written petition filed pursuant to the provisions of R.A. 4200 if the crimes involve (a). treason (b) espionage (c) provoking war and disloyalty ( d). piracy and mutiny in the high seas (e) sedition, inciting to sedition (g)kidnapping (h) other offenses against national security.

 

The list is exclusive and does not include offenses which are equally or more serious as those enumerated, such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, Trafficking in Persons, Rape, Murder.

 

 2.When Judicial Authorization is granted upon a written petition under R.A. 9372 ( The Human Security Act of 2007) in connection with the crimes of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism. If granted the authority covers written communications.

 

VI. Exclusion by Certain Rules of Evidence

 

1. The rule excluding secondary evidence when the primary or best evidence is available

2. The rule excluding hearsay evidence

3. The rule excluding privilege communications

 

VII. Kinds of Admissibility

 

A. Multiple Admissibility: when a material is asked by a party to be admitted as evidence, the party presenting must inform the court of the purpose which the material is intended to serve and the court then admits the material as evidence. Multiple admissibility may mean either (i) the evidence is admissible for several purposes or (ii) an evidence is not admissible for one purpose but may be admitted for a different purpose if it satisfies all the requirements of the other purpose

1. Examples of the first concept: (a) a knife may be admitted to prove the accused was armed with a deadly weapon; to prove the weapon is far deadlier than the weapon of the victim; to prove it was the weapon of the accused which cause the wounds and not some other instrument; to corroborate the statement of a witness who claims he saw the accused holding a bladed instrument.

2. Example of the second concept: (a). the extra judicial confession of one of several accused may not be admitted to prove there was conspiracy among them or to prove the guilt of the other co-accused but it maybe admitted to prove the guilt of the confessant (b) the statement of the victim may not be admitted as a dying declaration but as part of the res gestae.

 

B. Curative admissibility or “fighting fire with fire” or “Opening the Door”

1. This applies to a situation when improper evidence was allowed to be presented by one party, then the other party may be allowed to introduce or present similar improper evidence but only to cure or to counter the prejudicial effect of the opponent’s inadmissible evidence.

2. The party presenting must have raised an objection to the improper evidence, for if he did not, then it is discretionary for the court to allow him to present curative evidence

3. The evidence sought to be countered should not refer to those which are incompetent due to an exclusionary rule

4. Example: P vs. D for sum of money. P was allowed to introduce evidence that D did not pay his debt as shown by his refusal to pay his indebtedness to X, Y and Z. Defendant may introduce evidence  that he paid his debts to A, B and C.

 

C. Conditional Admissibility: An evidence is allowed to be presented for the time being or temporarily, subject to the condition that its relevancy or connection to other facts will later be proven, or that the party later submit evidence that it meets certain requirements of the law or rules. If the conditions are not later met, the evidence will be stricken from the record.

 

1. Example: A Xerox copy of a document may be allowed to presented subject to the condition that the original be later presented

2. Example: P vs. D to recover a parcel of land. P presents a document that the land belonged to X. If D objects to it as being irrelevant, P can state that he will alter show that X sold the land to Y who in turn sold it to Z and then  to P.  The Court may admit the document conditionally.

 

VIII. Policy on the Admissibility of Evidence

 

A. Policy of Liberality: In case a question arises as to whether or not a particular material  should be admitted as evidence, Courts are given wide discretion what to  admit and to be liberal in admitting materials offered as evidence, unless the material is clearly incompetent. The reasons are: (i) so that it may have a substantial range of facts as basis for deciding the case and (ii) in case of appeal the appellate court may have before it all the evidence to determine whether the decision appealed from is in accordance with the evidence, (iii) to minimize any adverse effect of the non-admission upon the party affected.

 

B. Limitations:

 

1. Evidence may be excluded even if relevant if its probative value is outweighed by the risk that its admission will cause:

a). undue or unfair prejudice

b). confusion of the issues

c). misleads the court

d). undue delay or waste of time

 

2. The court has the power to limit the presentation of additional evidence which are but cumulative, or to prove points which a party has already well presented          


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