What Happens If a Solicitor Lies in Court

Clients often ask me if the judge will verify what we tell them – and my answer is always no, the court will expect everything you tell them to be the truth – otherwise they would lie to the court and expose you to charges of perversion of justice. More generally, your lawyer and lawyer are expected to act honestly and honestly – not only because we ourselves have a code of conduct to which we are bound, but also by extending the presumption afforded to the defendant when we act on your instructions. The moral of the story? Joking aside, truth always plays a role in New York dishes. Roiphe said the court had found a no in the specific case, adding that for her it was deception. „By not sharing this information, you are not lying, but you are not sharing this information that you know would be crucial for the accused to make this decision,“ she said. „I believe that the prosecutor has a duty to pass on this information, and this comes from the duty of openness. If the defence lawyer somehow has some sort of moderate obligation, then the prosecutor has a particularly heightened obligation to be open, and the reason is that he is the Minister of Justice. Part of the prosecutor`s job is to balance procedural fairness with another job of prosecutors, and that is to get the guilty to go to jail. Imagine this: you are a parent who has been attacked by your partner. They say you invented it. They have no „proof“ – no pictures of injuries, no one has seen them.

You didn`t tell anyone at the time and you stayed. From the outside, it was a happy family. You have now spoken to the police, but realize that you have ruined your appointments, that all the events merge into one and that you have confused one attack with another. They ended up inadvertently giving inconsistent reports. You are traumatized, you do not remember all the details or the order. They remember the strange smells and extracts, but not what caused the argument. You worry that your account will not be believed. Do you want your lawyer to assess your honesty and decide whether or not to represent you based on that presumption? Because it would be a hunch if I decided to do it before I look at the evidence, before testing your evidence, before testing your abuser`s evidence. I know this because I`ve been through this process so many times in 20 years. You evaluate the evidence on the papers, you meet the client – is he likely to be a credible witness, will he fall apart, pull himself together or fly off the handle when he enters the witness box? How plausible will the other party be? But you never know.

You never know until they get in the box. You never know until the last question is answered. Sometimes the strongest case skips a leak after the first question and quickly sinks from there, while sometimes a client you thought was a disaster gives a consistent, plausible, and detailed account of what is obviously their experience under pressure. Sometimes a witness you thought you had nothing to ask for proves your case to you as soon as they open their mouth, and sometimes a witness you thought you could cross-examine very effectively is completely inscrutable. And sometimes, it has to be said, you think the trial went in one direction, and then the judge sees things quite differently and believes that the witness who was not considered almost credible was not credible. This is called „process risk.“ Scenario 1: A law firm represented a plaintiff in a trademark and copyright lawsuit against a stamp manufacturer who had affixed the plaintiff`s photos to his stamps. The company obtained a court order prohibiting it from continuing to use the plaintiff`s photos. Convinced that the company was violating the court order, the firm`s lawyers and paralegals called the company and asked it to purchase stamps with the complainant`s photos. When the firm sought sanctions against the company for violating the court order, the firm again sought sanctions against the law firm. The lies told in court almost always belong to the party or witness.

Except in cases where a lawyer violates the most basic rules governing his access to the profession and his conduct, decides to lie knowingly in order to save the client or his own skin (for example, to cover up a mistake). These lies, when told, are legitimately likely to end your career. And for this reason, they are also quite rare. For example, if a lawyer executes a subpoena against a defendant based on his client`s false statements, that lawyer must abuse court procedure to substantiate his client`s case. And he can only do that by lying. It happened in Surrey in the 1990s. Because of the way the court process is structured, a lawyer often has to present the facts of the case that they might (perhaps even strongly) suspect are not true or accurate. They may have a hunch that the customer is not telling them the truth, they may know that the customer has not been honest about other things, and they may fear that they will not be told the truth now. They may have formed the opinion that the client will not be a very good witness, or that they have unconsciously filled in the gaps in their memory by telling their story (this is a well-known phenomenon). But ultimately, it`s the lawyer`s job to present the case so that the judge (or jury in a criminal case) can decide where the truth lies.

It`s not unethical to do so, although it may be difficult for someone on the other side of the case who knows (or believes) that the customer is lying. A lawyer`s main job is to represent their client, BUT their duty to the court outweighs that duty when they collide. In the words of the guidelines, „CD1 takes precedence over any other basic requirement if and to the extent that the two are incompatible.“ What do you do if your lawyer lies to you? Residents of New York City and all five boroughs will want to know more about what to do if a lawyer fails in his or her duty. Problems can be lack of communication as well as dishonesty. But I think we can do better than just say, „Lawyers don`t lie.“ The truth is that sometimes they do – we know that because sometimes one of our regulators makes a decision that speaks volumes. Normally, when dishonesty is proven, the penalties imposed by our regulators are severe. A lawyer could be dismissed (from the SRA) and a lawyer could be expelled (from BSB) – sometimes these end-of-career sanctions are imposed even if the dishonesty in question is relatively minor (because dishonesty is never minor for a lawyer). Of course, there are observations that a lawyer can make based on reading the documents and on his own knowledge of events that occurred at previous hearings. A lawyer must ensure that his statements on these points are correct (whether in a case statement, chronology or skeletal argument) – for example, by reminding the judge of what happened at the last hearing or when a particular step was taken in the proceedings. If a lawyer later discovers that he has made such a mistake, he must correct it – not saying anything would be misleading. Lawyers take this very seriously – if you look, you will sometimes see that lawyers make a point of correcting something that, overall, seems quite petty – it is the lawyer who settles an accidental factual error with the code of conduct – and absolutely ensures that the court does not unfairly rely on a mistake it has made.

When exactly would a lawyer mislead the court? Well, if my client presided over a case based on the claim that he was attacked five times in 2021, but then told me in confidential conversations that he wasn`t attacked five times in 2021 or that he wasn`t attacked at all in 2021, but he wants me to lead the five assaults case anyway – then, If I say that, there were five assaults, although I know they did not happen, I am misleading the court.