Many of my posts are about cowboy stuff. They seem more popular than what I write about legal topics. What a surprise!
So, I am warning you fans of ranch life that this ain’t about our horses or dogs or wildfires or brandings or buffalo or deer or antelope. This is about lying.
Contrary to what seems to be the public perception of lawyers, lawyers need to be even more careful about lying than the general public. Lawyers are members of a licensed and regulated profession. Also, that particular profession is charged with pursuing justice. I tell my clients that their credibility and my credibility are crucial to their cases. We are stuck with the facts, but how we are perceived by the jury, judge and opposing counsel are how cases are won or lost.
I tell my clients about a particular Colorado jury instruction which is read to every jury. Each set of jury instructions tell the jury about many things regarding how to decide the case before them, so the sets of instructions vary from case to case, but I suppose all sets include the one I am going to tell you about. I, at least, always insist on it.
The instruction to which I am referring basically says that if the jury finds that a witness is lying about anything, they can disregard that witness’s entire testimony.
Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama are both lawyers. They know about this stuff.
I realize that every administration is accused of misleading the public. I realize that a mistake is different than an intention to deceive. I realize that press conferences are not under oath.
Nevertheless, having said all that, I am concerned about the scandals that involve telling Congress something that the “tellers” knew was incorrect and was told with a deliberate intention to deceive. For example, Eric Holder should remember if he signed subpoenas in the matter he was being asked about. Wouldn’t President Obama know that the attack on the embassy was a terrorist act from the beginning?
If they were my clients, we’d have a little talk out by the water fountain during a break in testimony, at which time I would remind them of the importance of what they should have learned at home or Sunday school, even without going to law school — i.e., telling the truth.