Lying in Court, an Opportunity
Few things are more frustrating, at least in the litigation arena, than when your adversary lies in court. As a lawyer, I see it all of the time. For the most part, I’m immune from the emotional reaction my clients feel. Instead, every time I catch an adverse witness lying, I see it as an opportunity
to build a winning case. Why? Because, credibility of the witnesses is probably the single most important determinant of who will prevail at trial. If my clients maintain their credibility and I am able to impeach the other side’s credibility, my chances for victory increase exponentially.
Nonetheless, clients still want to know if consequences from the court will befall the other party or their attorney for their lies. The answer is, sometimes, yes.
Of course, we all know that perjury is a criminal offense. Yet, in all of my years of litigation (27), I’ve never seen a witness prosecuted for perjury – even though I have demonstrated hundreds of witnesses’ perjury through cross-examination. I’m sure the district attorney prosecutes these types of cases; I just haven’t seen any.
How We Can Win When Someone Lies
I have good news. My client and I won a case in superior court, and the defendants filed an appeal. In their appeal, the defendants make many false statements to the court – both by pointing to false testimony of the defendants and by their attorney making misrepresentations to the court in his appellate briefs. We have a very good remedy available in the court of appeal: we can file a motion to ask the court to immediately dismiss the appeal and issue monetary sanctions against the attorney and defendants for their lies.
On top of that, if the court determines that the lawyer misrepresented facts to the court or suborned perjury from his client, the court will likely refer the matter to the State Bar for disciplinary action against the lawyer. As a result, this remedy is good for both my client – who could see the court immediately dismiss the frivolous appeal and award him sanctions, too – and for our system of justice because penalizing lawyers for participating in these types of actions reverberates throughout the legal community.