Rhode Island divorce lawyer, David Slepkow, discusses the unfortunate pervasiveness of misrepresentation and outright lies by litigants in Providence Family Court.
Is anyone ever held accountable for lying in Rhode Island Family Court?
Litigants in the Rhode Island Family Court are rarely held accountable for false statements made in Family Court. There is rarely a punishment for lies in Family Court. The Rhode Island Family Court and divorce cases are often based on conferences or hearings without testimony.
The problem with coferences
These conferences are sometimes in a back room without the clients present. Some of these conferences are meetings at the bench between the attorneys and the judge.
In other words, in most instances the attorney is making representations to the Court on behalf of his or her client. The lawyer repeats assertions by the his or her client. Therefore, the lawyer does not know that the information presented by his client is false.
In some cases the issue pertains to the concept of willful ignorance. Attorneys know who pays the bills. Divorce lawyers often do not want to directly confront their client with contradictory information. In some cases, the lawyer is completely hoodwinked by the client
RI lawyers do not lie but they sometimes unwittingly repeat misrepresentations
Rhode Island divorce lawyers do not lie. RI child custody attorneys do not intentionally make misrepresentations in front of the judge. The RI divorce Attorneys often unwittingly repeat lies or commit “willful ignorance” by not properly challenging their family law clients. The Rhode Island Divorce attorney does not want to lose his client. He or she may be hesitant to directly challenge their client’s recitation of facts. The only way to really attempt to get to some semblance of the truth is a hearing with testimony and cross examination.
Cross examination- a way to get the truth
The only way to get to justice is to put people under oath and have them cross examined. It can be challenging to get a testimonial hearing in Rhode Island Family Court. Sometimes it is difficult to get a trial or hearing.
However, in the last 5 years with an influx of modern, progressive judges and Magistrates testimonial hearings are increasingly commonplace in Providence Family Court.
A trial or testimonial hearing can be very costly
It is very expensive to get a testimonial hearing in Court. Sometimes, there is not enough in controversy, so to speak, to make it worthwhile for the parties to demand a hearing and expose exaggeration or lies. Divorce and Child Custody matters often have huge stakes and sometimes people are desperate to win. The word has gotten out to the public that many people get away with misrepresentations.
Desperate people who don’t want to lose custody and lack of accountability or penalty is a recipe for a mess.
Also, judges are looking for solutions. Something like ‘you say black -she says white and we will never figure this out so let’s find a solution.’ This mentality ignores the untruthfulness of at least one party and seeks to help the judge move the calendar and get rid of the litigants. Judges are overworked with calendars that are too busy. Judges often do not have the time to get to the bottom of every factual issue.
In some ways, resolving causes of action rather than getting to the truth is the reality in Rhode Island Family Court. Conferences are the main cause of why people get away with bloody murder in Domestic Court. There is no real accountability in a conference. The Attorneys are mouth pieces for their client and statements of lawyers are not testimony
Lying or exaggerating in Court is unethical and immoral. There are cases where someone is severely punished for misrepresentations in Court. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. Some judges are more willing to allow hearings with testimony. If you lie under oath you could be prosecuted for perjury. It is very rare for prosecutors to bring criminal charges for perjury in Family Court.
Rhode Island Family Court Lawyer David Slepkow concentrates in Divorce, Child Custody and Family Law 401-437-1100.