Frequently in divorce, and I am sure many other cases, there are diverging versions of an event.  Often that is caused by the fact that people have a different perception of events.  Maybe it is a Mars/Venus thing when it comes to husband/wife relationships.  in these cases, both people honestly believe their version of events.

Then again, there are people that just lie, including lying under oath. 

A client that I was speaking to today asked me how "they" can get away with lying.  She was talking about her husband and his counsel.  The fact that litigants are not always truthful is a sad fact.  The fact that their counsel was not truthful is eminently worse.

Lawyers have an ethical  duty of candor to the court and fairness to the other side.  That means that you cannot make misrepresentations to a court or opposing counsel.  It means that you cannot omit clearly important information when there is a duty, expectation and obligation to provide it.  You should not cobble together out of context parts of a trial record in an attempt to mislead an appellate court.  You should not stay silent if you told your adversary that the case was settled and then your client backed out. You should not make representations to a court that simply are not true.  Sadly, it happens too often and undermines litigants’ confidence in the system.  It also results in absurd squabbling which can take time away from dealing with the real issues in the case.  There are ethics committees to deal with these issues and hopefully there is a remedy for such flagrant dishonesty.

For litigant’s, perjury is still a crime though this author has never seen a divorce litigant referred to a prosecutor for perjury.  However, at trial, these lies, when inevitably debunked, go to destroy a party’s credibility.  Often, cases are won or lost on credibility determinations.  In addition, the lying can lead to a finding of bad faith, which leads to counsel fees. 

These cases can be difficult enough when even when every one is on the up and up.  So don’t lie.  

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.