Blog Lecture No. 18: Original Evidence

Ok class! Lets tackle this wonderful thing called original evidence. But we have to tackle several topics along, before and beyond it…

What are the basic types of evidence?
Basically, there are now three kinds of evidence:
1. Object or real evidence
2. Documentary Evidence
3. Electronic Evidence

What is object evidence?
Section 1 of Rule 130 defines what it object evidence. It says:

Section 1. Object as evidence. — Objects as evidence are those addressed to the senses of the court. When an object is relevant to the fact in issue, it may be exhibited to, examined or viewed by the court.

Examples of these are murder weapons, drugs confiscated from the bust, undies, pubes and rubber in a rape case. Strands fiber, etc.

What is documentary evidence?

Section 2 of the same Rules defines this as evidence consist of writing or any material containing letters, words, numbers, figures, symbols or other modes of written expression offered as proof of their contents.

What is original evidence?

Traditionally, original evidence refer only to documents, though taken loosely now in Congress.

They are defined under section 4 of the same rule as any one of the following:

(a) The original of the document is one the contents of which are the subject of inquiry (or the one in issue).

(b) When a document is in two or more copies executed at or about the same time, with identical contents, all such copies are equally regarded as originals. (These are called “duplicate originals.”)

(c) When an entry is repeated in the regular course of business, one being copied from another at or near the time of the transaction, all the entries are likewise equally regarded as originals. (“Business records” such as receipts…)

Why is the original important? Can’t we just present copies, anyway they are the same?

As they say, the original is still the best. According to the “best evidence rule” (Section 3 of the same Rules):

Section 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. — When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except in the following cases:

(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror;

(b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable notice;

(c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot be examined in court without great loss of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the general result of the whole; and

(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is recorded in a public office.

This rule simply says, if the original evidence is available, you have to present it. Otherwise, the contents of a document can still be contested by the one producing the original document.

When, then, can you use copies (or technically, when can you resort to secondary evidence)?

You can use secondary evidence when:

1. When original document is unavailable.
2.When original document is in adverse party’s custody or control
3. Voluminous business records
4. When original document is a public record, in which case, you can present a certified true copy

What about electronic evidence?

Electronic evidence basically fall into these categories:
1. Electronic Documents
2. Digital Audio, Photographic, Video and
3. Ephemeral Electronic Communications

What are ephemeral eletronic communications?

These are communications of a fleeting, temporary nature (unrecorded) such as cel phone conversations (Hello, Garci?) and text messages (eow grci?)

What is the basic principles in electronic evidence?

First, electronic documents and evidence can already be admissible because of the E-commerce Act. (Republic Act No. 8792). You can get this from Atty. JJ Disini’s site here.

Basically, the new rules of electronic evidence (but I would defer to my former boss, Atty. JJ Disini, the specialist on this topic) simply ensures the authenticity and integrity of what such evidence proves before it can be admitted as evidence.

The more interesting and relevant item for our blog lecture is Rule 11. It says:

RULE 11
AUDIO, PHOTOGRAPHIC, VIDEO, AND EPHEMERAL EVIDENCE

Section 1. Audio, video and similar evidence.– Audio, photographic and video evidence of events, acts or transaction shall be admissible provided it shall be shown, presented or displayed to the court and shall be identified, explained or authenticated by the person who made the recording or by some other person competent to testify on the accuracy thereof .

Section 2. Ephemeral electronic communications. – Ephemeral electronic communications shall be proven by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge thereof. In the absence or unavailability of such witnesses, other competent evidence may be admitted.

A recording of the telephone conversation or ephemeral electronic communication shall be covered by the immediately preceding section. If the foregoing communications are recorded or embodied in an electronic document, then the provisions of Rule 5 shall apply. (Emphasis supplied.)

What does this mean?

Her “sorry” truly admitted it…but which did she admit?

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