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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 113420 Find in a Library
Title: Client Perjury in Criminal Cases: Still in Search of an Answer
Journal: Trial  Volume:24  Issue:9  Dated:(September 1988)  Pages:30-40
Author(s): N Lefstein
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 11
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: There are only two viable solutions when a defense counsel knows that a client intends to commit perjury: counsel must report the client's intent to lie to the court or counsel should permit the client to make a narrative statement to the fact-finder.
Abstract: The client perjury dilemma exists only when counsel has actual knowledge that the client intends to lie. Traditionally, under this standard, a third solution has also been suggested: counsel should examine the defendant just as he would any other witness, even though he knows the testimony is false. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court in a case decided in 1986 appears to support the solution that would advise the trial court when a defendant insists on commiting perjury, the narrative approach is the most sensible approach. The American Bar Association has issued Formal Opinion 87-535, which makes clear that still a fourth option may exist: counsel may be forced to resolve the issue of client perjury by withdrawing from the case. When counsel withdraws, however, the successor counsel must then solve the dilemma of perjury -- often with less information than was available to the original counsel. When deciding whether to inform the court of the client's intended perjury or to permit the client to make a narrative statement to the fact-finder, the defense attorney should ask the following questions: Will the approach discourage a defendant from presenting perjury? If false testimony is presented, will the defense counsel be placed in the position of supporting it? Will the approach taken preserve the attorney-client relationship and avoid the risk of mistrial? Will the approach risk disclosure of confidential information? 37 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Perjury
Index Term(s): Attorney client relations; False evidence; Legal liability
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