Lawyers Who Lie I am saddened today to feel it necessary to observe that some lawyers, like some people, lie to the Court – particularly in the more contentious of family law cases. I guess our society promotes winning above all our higher values. I often remind my clients that while court cases are all about justice, the adversarial system only has enough time to devote to any given case to approximate the appearance of justice. For those people who face dishonest lawyers, I apologize and sympathize deeply with your predicament. These lawyers seem to forget that real people are involved and that outcomes ruin not on the lives of the parties themselves, but also their children. This of course models behaviors that will repeat – often for generations. Fortunately it is a rare event in my experience. Most attorneys are honest and ethical, at least in my small community. In 30 years of practice I can count the times that opposing counsel themselves submitted perjured testimony to a Judge in a matter in which these attorneys became so personally aligned with their clients, or so egotistically challenged, that boundaries evaported and they became willing to say anything. There are some divorce attorneys whose entire style is devoted to disinformation, and this is common. These are the family law attorneys who wilfully misrepresent or distort the facts or the truth of some story or event – in fact, that is a regular experience for people who find my websites online, and one that visitors to this site often question me about. This behavior exists in greyishness, and is reinforced by the conditioning that lawyers receive early on. While the latter situations are equally disturbing, I guess that they occur frequently enough that I've grown desensitized to them. Unfortunately, judges – who really can't discern truth any faster than the rest of us, especially with their limited time and resources – often refuse to control these situations. This is why I advocate an amendment to Family Code section 271 to authorize sanctions awards directly against attorneys, and not just their clients. It is not the judges' faults: The system is broken and where cases get transferred from judge to judge, and when judicial officers are overburdened as they are with budget cuts it is a tall order to expect them to cope much better than the seemingly lower life forms squabbling in their courtrooms. I was interviewed this month by California Lawyer Magazine along with others, and although slightly misquoted, I am tickled to have been quoted as urging that our adversarial system, accelerated by the Elkins changes to the law, may be destined to ever decreasing half-lifes until one day another paradigm can emerge. The problem is transition is painful and whether as individuals or collectively we tend to only reflect carefully when we reach a critical mass. Most family law attorneys in any given community know who these bad apples are. Still, it makes the honest attorneys crazy and even sick to our stomachs. Which is why this blog exists – to empower the unempowered and to educate all who care enough to search. Equanimity is difficult in such circumstances. I want to use the power of my California Divorce Blog, which Google evidently loves since I get over 9,000 visitors each month, to tell you today's story and to name names. I assure you that if I did, whenever that attorney's name was searched on the internet, this Blog would come up first. But the moment I misuse that power I have joined the lower ranks of reactivity. My decision to not identify her has nothing to do with any conceivable liability – it is about my commitment to professionalism no matter what. Which doesn't mean that she will not soon be forced to account in this particular case. I will tell you that the attorney involved is a young female lawyer out of … (thank god – the L.A. area) who has lost direction and sight of the values that hopefully motivated her to get into the profession, 'once upon a time.' I know she has visited this site because I actually gave her warm and free advice about her own – so perhaps she will bump into this article and recognize that I am speaking of her. Her conduct is so egregious that I believe that she could be disbarred or even criminally prosecuted, if my client decides to press the matter. And she might. But I am also mindful of principles of Ahimsa, even as this attorney has attempted to destroy my vulnerable client. I can promise my client, that attorney, and you that I will not allow that to happen. Adversarial litigation brings the worst out of some people, especially those with fragile egos or a history of personal suffering and resentment. Many lawyers fit that profile – and certainly many clients lost in the land of relationship end are in a deep destructive trance where the perceived benefits of the ends justify the means. Hell, we all fit that profile from time to time. Unfortunately, those ends never are grounded in anything but illusion. We all make mistakes – particularly under pressure – and I know that before she perjured herself the attorney of whom I speak she was surprised over something and had little time to reflect before committing herself to her coruse. We are, all of us, after all human beings. But to the lawyers who read my blogs – and I know you do, please remember that real people are involved with real lives that can crumble and collapse depending upon the lead we lawyers – as their guides – undertake. I have all the imperfections of all of us, as each of do much like fractals reflecting all aspects of creation. I struggle no more and no less than the attorney to whom I allude. Please – seek out lawyers who are peacemakers out of choice! And seek mediation instead of litigation. Any lawyer who will lie to me will lie to you – and take your money while they do! "All creatures desire peace and happiness" – as your relationship ends, protect yourself but be strong and be whole. TWA
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