All Lawyers Lie?

Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D, J.D., Etc.

2630 Exposition Blvd  #115

Austin, Texas 78703

(o) 512-296-2594

(c) 512-656-0503

The following comes from a
piece of fiction.  Many people believe it
to be true.  I have little experience in
criminal law, but I’m not so sure that it is true in civil litigation.

Everybody
lies. 
Cops
lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie.  The victims
lie. 
A
trial is a contest of lies.  And
everybody in the courtroom knows this. 
The judge knows this.  Even the
jury knows this.  They come into the
building knowing they will be lied to. 
They take their seats in the box and agree to be lied to.
            The trick if you are sitting at the
defense table is to be patient.  To
wait.  Not for just any lie.  But for the one you can grab on to and forge
like hot iron into a sharpened blade. 
You then use that blade to rip the case open and spill its guts out on
the floor.
            That’s my job, to forge the
blade.  To sharpen it.  To use it without mercy or conscience.  To be the truth in a place where everybody
lies.
Michael Connelly, The Brass Verdict: A Novel 3 (New York: Little, Brown,
2008).  (This is a crime novel in which
the lead character is a criminal defense lawyer.  He has appeared in t least one more of
Connelly’s novels.
*********************************************************************************

This idea is vastly more common than one might think.  It is this because of a pervasive distrust of lawyers, even among those in the business classes.  In addition, there is a pervasive sense that advocacy is a type of laying, and it seems illegitimate to “the many”–as opposed to “the elite”–that advocacy for a proposition or person is somehow immoral, a type of lying, if the lawyers knows or believes that the proposition is false or the person other than he claims.

Here
is one of my doubts.
  There are degrees
of lying
. Connelly doesn’t seem to realize this. There is such a thing as
big, and there is such a thing as small.

One
of them is the out-and-out radical lie. (“I was not unfaithful to my
husband, at all ever, though he was to me, as he told me many times when I
would not haves sex with him, because I couldn’t.  He was too drunk.”)

And
there are regular lies. (“I did not run that light.”)

There
are more restrained lies. (“I don’t think I ran the light.”). And there
are levels of these, just are there are for each of the listed categories.

There
are lies of exaggeration. (“Last year, my wife weighed 216 lbs, before she
lost weight.”)

Exaggeration
has an opposite; it could be called lies of “Negative-ggeration.” These
tend to be on the small size.  Maybe it’s
because the “distance” between the degree of the lie and a zero-level of lying
is always smaller than if the lie goes in the “opposite” direction. 

Then
there are subtle lies.  These are different,
since they might be of various sizes. Big ones are great for impeachment;
little ones are not. 

Connelly
may be right that every real trial contains some of these.  It might even be that in a big money trial
every important member of the cast of witnesses tells at least one, at some
level or other.  But I think he is
suggesting that for every witness, there is at least one radical lie from that
witness. 




I conjecture that what is true for trials (and/or depositions” is also true for negotiations.  “‘Negotiative’ lying” is more subtle, but no less common, I’d bet.
I
doubt it, and I am not lying.  My
statement is not even a “restrained” lie.

QUINN’S THESIS: A SMALL LIE HERE & THERE
DO NOT REALLY ADD UP TO MUCH IMPEACHMENT. 
IT CAN LOOK OVERLY HOSTILE, SINCE IT IS SO COMMON.  HOWEVER, WHAT COUNTS AS SMALL DEPENDS ON THE
SIZE AND NATURE OF THE CASE.  A WHOLE
LONG LIST IS DIFFERENT; IT’S THE OPPOSITE.

Originally posted on 07/01/2014 @ 4:30 pm

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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