It is thus necessary to resolve whether the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse

It is thus necessary to resolve whether the

This preview shows page 89 - 91 out of 95 pages.

It is thus necessary to resolve whether the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion when it rejected petitioners' thesis that to reveal the identity of their client would violate the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege is the oldest of the privileges for confidential communications known to the common law.1 For the first time in this jurisdiction, we are asked to rule whether the attorney-client privilege includes the right not to disclose the identity of client. The issue poses a trilemma for its resolution requires the delicate balancing of three opposing policy considerations. One overriding policy consideration is the need for courts to discover the truth for truth alone is the true touchstone of justice.2 Equally compelling is the need to protect the adversary system of justice where truth is best extracted by giving a client broad privilege to confide facts to his counsel.3 Similarly deserving of sedulous concern is the need to keep inviolate the constitutional right against self-incrimination and the right to effective counsel in criminal litigations. To bridle at center the centrifugal forces of these policy considerations, courts have followed to prudential principle that the attorney-client privilege must not be expansively construed as it is in derogation of the search for truth.4 Accordingly, a narrow construction has been given to the privilege and it has been consistently held that "these competing societal interests demand that application of the privilege not exceed that which is necessary to effect the policy considerations underlying the privilege, i.e., the privilege must be upheld only in those circumstances for which it was created.'"5 Prescinding from these premises, our initial task is to define in clear strokes the substantive content of the attorney-client privilege within the context of the distinct issues posed by the petition at bar. With due respect, I like to start by stressing the irreducible principle that the attorney-client privilege can never be used as a shield to commit a crime or a fraud. Communications to an attorney having for their object the commission of a crime ". . . partake the nature of a conspiracy, and it is not only lawful to divulge such communications, but under certain circumstances it might become
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the duty of the attorney to do so. The interests of public justice require that no such shield from merited exposure shall be interposed to protect a person who takes counsel how he can safely commit a crime. The relation of attorney and client cannot exist for the purpose of counsel in concocting crimes."6 In the well chosen words of retired Justice Quiason, a lawyer is not a gun for hire.7 I hasten to add, however, that a mere allegation that a lawyer conspired with his client to commit a crime or a fraud will not defeat the privilege.8 As early as 1933, no less than the Mr. Justice Cardozo held in Clark v. United States9 that: "there are early cases apparently
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