Sunday, February 7, 2010

Putting your pants out.

Today, after church and the traditional lunch stop with my seven year old, I spent much of the afternoon at work, catching up and preparing for the week to come.

Finally, at about 4:00, I got away and headed home.  By the time I pulled into the driveway and got out of my car to open the garage door, it hit me: this is a great day to play outside!  So, characteristically, I grabbed a rake.

This week, the firm has several hearings and a few mediations, but we have one peculiar case, the kind that doesn't come around very often.  The case is peculiar for several reasons, but to my point tonight, this case is peculiar because of the depth and breadth of the lies the opposing party told the Court and must have told his attorney to have achieved the temporary result he accomplished before we were hired. The lies are bad enough that, once we got into the case, his counsel asked the Court for permission to withdraw representation and the Court demanded the Opposing Party appear in very short order to explain himself.

How does someone get into this mess? 

So often, litigants think they are smarter than the system.  That should be a big red flag for any self-aware person right there.  Probably no one is smarter than the system.  I've been in this business for over 20 years and I can attest that our system of litigation is exceptionally well designed to find the truth.  That doesn't mean that the truth is always found or that the lies are always caught, but savvy attorneys and savvy judges make mincemeat of pants-on-fire litigants every day. 

And what compounds the stupid decision to lie is that almost every time the harm from the truth is far less than the harm from the lie exposed. I often tell my clients, "The truth shall set you free," because it does. 

The justice system is a human system almost entirely comprised of humans.  We in the system often understand why the parties behave the way they do.  Our understanding is part of what greases the skids of family law.  It is a significant part of what makes divorce process endurable. 

Bottom line, if you did it, own it and own up to it.  It helps your case and it helps you.  If you don't set your pants ablaze in the first place, you never have to put them out.

Michael Manely

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