Simply Disgraceful: Lawyers Lie To The Courts
In the 1940 Disney animated version of the old Italian fable, a fairy tells Pinocchio that if he wants to become a real boy of flesh and blood he must prove himself to be brave, truthful and unselfish and able to tell right from wrong by listening to his conscience.
Pinocchio does not understand what a conscience is, and Jiminy appears to explain it to him.
Does a judge need to remind a lawyer not to lie in court?
Oppenheim Law would like to remind lawyers that their duties go beyond the client and extend to the entire legal profession. It is a discredit to the entire profession when one of us, or even an entire practice area, forgets their duties and obligations.
Recently, the Florida Bar had to affirm an opinion ruling lawyers must inform the courts whenever they find out that their clients have submitted faulty or fraudulent paperwork, even if the case is already closed or if the paperwork was unlikely to make a difference to the case.
The opinion was sought by a foreclosure attorney who handled thousands of cases for a bank. He later found out the bank used improper affidavit procedures like most of the other banks and mortgage servicers in the document mill scandal. The lawyer wanted to know if he needed to inform the courts of the improper paperwork when it was unlikely to make a difference, either because the case was closed years ago or because the bank could re-file the paperwork immediately.
We would like to ask the lawyer that requested the opinion: when did you stop being an officer of the court? It is a stain upon the entire profession that a lawyer would find it acceptable enough to not inform a court of systemic irregularities that he would need to ask the Bar for an advisory opinion as to what to do.
As an officer of the court, it is an attorney’s highest duty to ensure that due process is followed and the integrity and reputation of the court and the legal profession remains intact. The quickest way to cast doubt on the legal system is through lying. That is why lawyers are obligated to report lying to the court, and why is it so shameful that a lawyer would need reminding of such paramount duties.
Just in case the advisory opinion wasn’t enough, Oppenheim Law offers a friendly reminder: Like in Pinocchio who does not understand what a conscience is, lawyers need to be told not to lie to the courts.