United States District Court

Northern District Of Illinois

Local Rules

LR83.53.4. Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel

A lawyer shall not:

(1) unlawfully obstruct another partyís access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value, nor shall a lawyer counsel or assist another person to do any such act;

(2) falsify evidence, counsel or assist a witness to testify falsely, or offer an inducement to a witness that is prohibited by law; or

(3) request a person other than a client to refrain from voluntarily giving relevant information to another party unless:

(A) the person is a relative or an employee or other agent of a client, and

(B) the lawyer reasonably believes that the personís interests will not be adversely affected by refraining from giving such information.

Committee Comment. The procedure of the adversary system contemplates that the evidence in a case is to be marshalled 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.

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 purposes of impairing its availability in a pending proceeding or one whose commencement can be foreseen. Falsifying evidence is also generally a criminal offense. Subsection (1) applies to evidentiary material generally, including computerized information. With regard to subsection (2), it is not improper to pay a witnessís expenses or to compensate an expert witness on terms permitted by law. The common law rule in most jurisdictions is that it is improper to pay an occurrence witness any fee for testifying and that it is improper to pay an expert witness a contingent fee.

Subsection (3) 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 LR83.54.2.