By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
When a Person Deliberately Lies, There’s Always a Motive
Video Transcribed: There’s an old saying I got from an attorney mentor friend of mine, David Smith, down in Norman. And he said a half truth is like half a brick.
You can throw it twice as far with twice the accuracy. I had been accused as a judge of calling cops liars. And I’ll tell you that that never happened, ever.
But I did point out to a fellow judge that a half truth very often, or a reckless falsehood or a careless falsehood, can often be worse than a deliberate lie. And let me tell you why that’s the case.
When a person tells a deliberate lie, there’s always a motive. When I had a client that would tell me, well, so and so’s lying.
And I always ask them, well, why would they lie about that? And there has to be a motive for a deliberate lie. It’s either jealousy, or it’s just bias, or it’s family feuds, or because the truth is ugly for the other person telling the falsehood.
Why do people tell reckless falsehoods, why do they tell careless falsehoods, why do they tell half-truths? A lot of times people don’t want to look stupid.
A lot of time, people think they should know the answer and they don’t and they think they can make a pretty good guess at it. They can hazard a guess and we call it hazarding a guess for a reason.
But when there’s a trial, especially a criminal trial, when there’s only one trap door and it’s rickety and it’s got a hair trigger, and the only person in the room sitting on that trap door is the criminal defendant. Nobody else is sitting on a trap door.
So when an officer or some other witness is sitting in a witness chair and they’re asked a question and they probably should know the answer. Or they wrote down in their police reports a long time ago that it was a red car.
Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but at the time they thought it was a red car. They wrote it down and they’re taught and cleat don’t ever change your mind, especially when being asked questions by the criminal defense lawyer, they used to be taught that. I don’t know if they’re taught that anymore. Stick to your guns.
Don’t waiver in your testimony. The motives for telling a reckless falsehood, or a careless falsehood, or a half truth are much more insidious. It has to do with ego. Don’t want to look stupid. I want to look like I’m in charge.
And we use words like the subject was proceeding westbound on the inside lane, things like that. And they don’t talk like regular human beings, they talk like robots and they don’t want to look like a fallible human being.
Some of the best testimony I’ve ever heard, especially from law enforcement witnesses, is when they say, well, I don’t know the answer to that question, you’ll have to ask somebody else. I wasn’t looking in that direction.
And that officer gets credibility, more and more credibility, every few seconds, they get more credibility that the know-it-all that gets up there and says they know everything, that becomes very dangerous.
And it’s very hard to cross examine somebody who’s telling reckless falsehoods.
So be aware of the reckless falsehoods, the careless falsehoods, the half-truths, they can be thrown with such accuracy and yet it’s still a falsehood. So be aware of that. This is Trial Attorney, Ken Adair. And I hope this video has been a little bit helpful and I look forward to seeing you again, thank you very much for watching and listening. If You are looking for First and Second Chair Co-Counsel, Focus Groups & Mock Jury Sociometrics, Jury Trial Preparation Services, visit trial-win.com