Tag: sincerity

Artificial Fraudulence

Seth Godin stated it well when he wrote, “The ease with which someone can invent and spread lies [with advancing technology] is going to take most of us by surprise. It’s going to require an entirely new posture for understanding the world around us.”

This is especially true in family law.

We will soon reach the point (some are there already) in family law where a spouse or parent can create fake email, text, and audio and visual “records” of spousal and child abuse, substance abuse, infidelity, assets and debt, property damage, diminution and dissipation of assets, scientific data, etc. that is all but indistinguishable from the genuine article. The level and volume of fakery will be impossible for all but the wealthiest of litigants to discern (and even then, if a duped judge is too proud or to biased to acknowledge and remedy the fraud, all the proof in the world won’t protect the innocent). When truth is practicably impossible to verify in the legal process, truth becomes meaningless to the process.

I don’t know how best to address this problem (it may already be too late). Unless the profession takes immediate and wise action, the liars will make such a mockery of the legal process so fast and so pervasively that trust in the system will be irreparably destroyed (and with good reason). We may reach a point where society at large gives up on the notion of justice being a function of truth (reality).

One concern I have is members of the profession (both opposing counsel and judges) acting “offended” for outraged or “concerned” if somebody claims that deepfakes and other similar tactics are being engaged. I’m concerned that someone who may in the utmost sincerity raise legitimate concerns about the authenticity and veracity of certain evidence being ridiculed as paranoid, a vexatious litigator, unprofessional, etc. Not out of a genuine belief, but in the hopes that shaming or even persecuting the whistleblower will result in the claims being retracted so that the hard work of getting to the truth can be avoided and or so that the desired outcome is not impeded by the facts. When that happens, then who will judge the judges, and by what standard?

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 26: Lying

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

Lying is corrosive. Lying does not allow us to be the best version of ourselves. Lying keeps us in denial about the actual state of our lives. So many of us spend our lives lying because we do not know any better way. We are so thoroughly convinced that if we let the truth out or if we let the truth dominate our lives then we would be miserable or we would lose everything. Maybe it is the case that we have lied ourselves into a corner and to admit the truth now would mean to forfeit some false comfort we have built up for ourselves.  

Whatever fears we may have about telling the truth, the truth is the only way through life. What I mean by that is it is the only way to have any peace in life. So long as I am lying and avoiding the consequences of my actions, I will just be left with chaos either internally or externally. And if you are wondering how this applies to the legal field, in particular divorce law, if you are dishonest you may get what you want, but you cannot do that without taking a toll on your family and your own spiritual well-being.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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If I start crying in court, will that help my case?

If I start crying in court, will that help my case?

This is a good question. An old and frequently asked question, but still a good question.

The answer is: maybe, but I wouldn’t risk it. Why?

Four reasons:

1) Lying is wrong. I hate lying, insincerity, weasel words, and B.S. Family law cases are awash in all of it. Judges know this. They witness it every day. Every single day without respite. They come to expect to be lied to. They thus often believe they’re being lied to even when you’re telling them them the truth. They can’t be blamed for feeling this way. If anyone believes that lying his/her way to success in court is a winning formula, then he/she deserves to lose, and I hope he/she does lose. Lying in court ruins it for everyone who is telling the truth.

2) Sometimes crying works, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on your “audience”. Some judges are just plain suckers for the weeping and the waterworks. They subscribe to the “Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth” (Benjamin Disraeli) school of thought. Other judges take offense at crying, feeling as though you are trying to exploit their emotions, to play upon their sympathy. These are the judges who see crying the way Jean Giraudoux did (“The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Yes, sometimes crying works, but most of the time everyone in the room sees it—clearly and unequivocally—for what it is: fake. Most crying in family law court is fake (not all, but most). Therefore, even if you show genuine emotion in court, odds are that the court will believe you’re faking it. Crying is a gamble with worse than even odds. Even if your emotion is genuine, odds are your judge will perceive it as feigned. Don’t cry in court, if you can help it.

3) Most people aren’t convincing actors, and their staged crying is pretty easy to spot. Not a judge on earth likes being manipulated or played, so when confronted with crying, they err on the side of disbelief. I rarely see crying work in court.

4) If self-interest, rather than truth, is your guiding principle, then don’t fake the crying because the odds of success are too slim to warrant the risk.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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