Bar Rules

RULE 3.4 FAIRNESS TO OPPOSING PARTY AND COUNSEL

Ethics & Discipline / Current Rules / Part IV (After January 1 / 2001) - Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct (also includes Disciplinary Proceedings and Advisory Opinion rules) / CHAPTER 1 GEORGIA RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND ENFORCEMENT THEREOF

A lawyer shall not:

  1. unlawfully obstruct another party's access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act;

    1. falsify evidence;
    2. counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely; or
    3. pay, offer to pay, or acquiesce in the payment of compensation to a witness contingent upon the content of the testimony or the outcome of the case. But a lawyer may advance, guarantee, or acquiesce in the payment of:
      1. expenses reasonably incurred by a witness in preparation, attending or testifying; or
      2. reasonable compensation to a witness for the loss of time in preparing, attending or testifying; or
      3.  a reasonable fee for the professional services of an expert witness;
  2. Reserved.;
  3. Reserved.;
  4. Reserved.;
  5. request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party unless:
    1. the person is a relative or an employee or other agent of a client; or the lawyer reasonably believes that the person's interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information; and
    2. the information is not otherwise subject to the assertion of a privilege by the client; and
  6. use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of the opposing party or counsel; or
  7. present, participate in presenting or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.

The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is disbarment.

Comment

[1] The procedure of the adversary system contemplates that the evidence in a case is to be marshaled competitively by the contending parties. Fair competition in the adversary system is secured by prohibitions against destruction or concealment of evidence, improperly influencing witnesses, obstructive tactics in discovery procedure, and the like.

[2] Documents and other items of evidence are often essential to establish a claim or defense. Subject to evidentiary privileges, the right of an opposing party, including the government, to obtain evidence through discovery or subpoena is an important procedural right. The exercise of that right can be frustrated if relevant material is altered, concealed or destroyed. Applicable law in many jurisdictions makes it an offense to destroy material for purpose of impairing its availability in a pending proceeding or one whose commencement can be foreseen. Falsifying evidence is also generally a criminal offense. Paragraph (a) applies to evidentiary material generally, including computerized information.

[3] Reserved.

[4] Paragraph (f) permits a lawyer to advise employees of a client to refrain from giving information to another party, for the employees may identify their interests with those of the client. See also Rule 4.2.

[5] As to paragraph (g), the responsibility to a client requires a lawyer to subordinate the interests of others to those of the client, but that responsibility does not imply that a lawyer may disregard the rights of the opposing party or counsel. It is impractical to catalogue all such rights, but they include legal restrictions on methods of obtaining evidence.



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