Ok class! For today let’s discuss the possibility of seeking relief for a lost cause based on newly discovered evidence. This will be a very short lecture because, far from what it seems, I also have a life, too.
It is that “which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial, and which if presented would probably alter the result.” (From Section 1, Rule 37 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure)
Please note that the classification “newly discovered evidence” is a function of two things, namely:
1. Time of Discovery and Production
The evidence (whether object or testimonial evidence, more on this in another blog) could not have been discovered and produced during the time it was needed (in civil and criminal cases, during trial). This should not be the case of “forgotten” evidence, which was already discovered and could have been produced during trial, but was not due to some tactical blunder.
2. Materiality (Relevance)
The “newly discovered evidence” must not only be “newly discovered.” It must also have a bearing on the outcome of the decision. According to the definition I said above, it must be of such magnitude as to “probably alter the result.”
Can you give me an example?
The classic example of this is DNA evidence being presented to exonerate an alleged rapist convicted at the time DNA fingerprinting was not yet available. (Also a classic CSI episode.)
We can see here that DNA evidence passes the two tests I stated before. It was not discovered or produced during the trial because such forensic data/testing was not available at the time. If there were object evidence with recoverable DNA samples then (e.g., undies, used rubber, pubes, etc.) and it did not match the alleged rapist, enough reasonable doubt could be established to give the alleged rapist a “Get out of Jail, free” card.
In civil cases, a last will and testament could be discovered among a person’s papers tucked away in a secret compartment of his house, discovered only when the house was being renovated way after the properties were distributed to his heirs. That will could have substantially affected the way the properties should have been divided among these heirs.
So I found “newly discovered evidence,” how can I use it?
In civil and criminal cases, this can be the basis to ask for new trial or reconsideration of the judgment already rendered.
How about in election cases?
Oh, of course the evidence must be admissible first. (Heheheheh!)
But if at all there is such newly discovered evidence, it may be used to prosecute persons or candidates of election offenses and even question the legitimacy of the win. It all depends on what stage of the election we are in (or we are not…)
How to go about this is the reason why election lawyers are paid huge amounts…So give us a chance to earn our keep…