Do lawyers lie?

In a blog, I came across comments that suggested that lawyers focus on “form” and not substance because of the adversarial nature of Philippine courts.

This made me ask whether lawyers are obliged to seek justice even if it would go against the interest of their clients.  So I re-read the lawyer’s oath.  True enough, lawyers are not obliged to seek justice.  They only need to be faithful to the court and their clients, “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

Indeed, “intrinsic” fraud, the kind of fraud that the other party must be on guard against, seems to be fair game in litigation. (The legal dictionaries define intrinsic fraud as “deception that pertains to an issue involved in an original action, such as perjured testimony or fabricated evidence.”)

In effect, lawyers must be “truthful” but they do not have to tell all if by so doing they injure their client.  And of course it is not proper to ask a defense lawyer in open court, “Counselor, is your client guilty?”  Why?  Because that is the very essence of the case. The blog commentary did have a point!

Here is the lawyer’s oath:

I, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, I will support the Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself these voluntary obligations without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.


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