By: Bill Pilchak – 10/30/14
In one way, this blog article is a shameless plug for my new novel, Nothing But The Truth, which is being launched at a party on November 11, 2014, 5:30-8:30 at the Emagine Theater Royal Oak (11 Mile Road & Main). After all, a business blog is supposed to announce things like this.
However, readers of the novel will find an underlying theme within its pages: my disdain for attorneys who attempt to distort the truth in order to enrich their clients and themselves. In this regard (however reluctantly), I distinguish criminal attorneys who are obligated to raise a “reasonable doubt” on behalf of a clientele that is 98%+ guilty and civil attorneys who foist a false version of the truth while pursuing dollars. Criminal attorneys doing so are protecting a Constitutional right of their clients. There is no equivalent justification in the civil realm.
Discovering falsehoods has become commonplace in our caseload, possibly because we tend to not simply accept the facts related by our opponents and because we act on hunches when the plaintiff’s version does not fit the facts. Ideally, when uncovered, prosecutions for perjury would result, but that seldom occurs. It took catching a sitting mayor red-handed in lies about a sizzling affair with a staffer to spur one prosecutor to bring charges. Absent those dynamics, the legal system is not terribly interested in “outing” those who lie in litigation. The unfortunate truth is that when one scenario was brought to the attention of Michigan’s Attorney-Grievance Commission by our office, it provoked a ho-hum response.
Undoubtedly, our opponents on the plaintiff’s side of employment litigation, some of whom will be at the launch party, will consider the perspective in Truth to be sanctimonious – as if our clients never fib. Past and present P&C attorneys and staff employees will be able to confirm the several episodes where potential clients suggested that the truth be covered up or misrepresented were told to leave our offices because they needed to find an unethical management-side lawyer, and since there are not many of them, they shouldn’t waste time sitting in our offices. Our court reporters will be able to verify the instances where (thankfully non-client) witnesses that our side hoped to call later at trial lied right in front of us at deposition, and we placed the true facts on the record revealing their lies. And with respect to our longstanding clients? I have fortunately never had the experience where a client was shown to have told a deliberate untruth. However, when the circumstances and/or independent witnesses don’t support or remember the same “truth” that our clients remember, that is when discussions about settlement are either initiated or pressed with greater urgency. (Not to suggest that completely innocent and truthful clients do not also settle for economic reasons.)
Nothing But The Truth illustrates how the entire legal system and all those who work in it are dependent upon the truth being an unattainable commodity and illustrates some interesting procedural and legal principles that actually squelch the truth. Fortunately for the reader, these ethical and philosophical issues are discussed in the context of J. Carson Tucker’s investigation of a provocative sexual harassment case that leads to an exploration of sexual addiction and its psychological underpinnings and Tuck’s involvement with some fascinating characters: A Jamaican aerosol manufacturer who bottles voodoo-inspired sprays for the Haitian and Caribbean community and “Frankie Holland,” who has multi-personality disorder, is on the verge of gender reassignment surgery and believes at times that “she” is “Marilyn Monroe of Canada.”
I would love to see you (and your book club) at the launch party November 11. I will be signing books, in case that means something to someone someday. If you are inclined to come, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we bring enough paperbacks to the party…but come even if you forget to RSVP.