Lying and crossing your fingersThe lawyer-client relationship is crucial in the success or failure of a court case. This relationship should be built on trust and honesty. The client must be able to trust that the lawyer he/she has employed is doing their best for the case. On the other hand, the client must be totally honest in all his/her disclosure to the lawyer.

Initially the client has the better end of the bargain since all lawyers are required by their profession to adhere to certain standards in behavior. In fact, a lawyer is sanctioned by his professional organization or by the court if found violating the rules of conduct set forth by the American Bar Association. Disciplinary action by a state bar association or other authority may include private reprimands; public censure; and suspension of the ability to practice law. The most severe of all disciplinary actions is the disbarment which is a permanent denial of the ability to practice law in that jurisdiction.

So what if the client misbehaves by telling their lawyer a lie or failing to fully disclose to the lawyer their real situation? What could happen?

For instance, a client told the their lawyer that they are suffering from an injury so much that they are unable to do their usual activity after the accident. The lawyer of course believes that the client has been honest with them and uses this “suffering” as one of the basis for claiming compensation for the injured client.

To lawyer’s surprise, during a trial hearing, the lawyer of the defendant presented to the court a video of the client having a good time at the beach (using a jet ski, playing volleyball, snorkeling, diving, etc.) a few days after the accident. This would invalidate the client’s claim that the injuries prevented them from doing their usual activity or engaging in any activity.

It would now appear to the judge that the client fabricated their supposed “inactivity,” due to the injury, in the hope of getting more money from the defendant. Any lawyer would be just by saying that they would not appreciate this kind of misinformation or lack of total disclosure and honesty because this could weaken the case in court or ultimately, result in losing the case; bad for both the lawyer and the client.

Clients are not sanctioned by any professional organization for dishonesty but may eventually get the short end of the stick because of their false claim. Your lawyer needs to be fully aware of what transpired before, during and after the accident so that they can prepare the best arguments for the case. If you leave out vital information, this could be used by the other party to their advantage and could give them the opportunity to win. Even if a tiny detail may paint you in a bad light, tell your lawyer about everything. It is best that they know what the odds are before going to court.

Photo copy right to Evan-Amos

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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