Do You Promise to Tell the Truth, So Help You God
I was just wondering, when did the oath administered in the courts of law, no longer means what it says. Maybe it started with Bill Clinton and his perjury. Probably not. However, it seems that as I continue to practice law, there is a decreased respect for truth and the need to honor the system of law. The ease with which people lie, or at least manufacture the facts to fit their perceived needs, simply amazes me. Because of this fact, the legal system will simply collapse upon itself.
Think about this example. There are two brothers. The younger brother uses the older brother’s car and several hours later gets in an accident. The older brother knows that if the younger brother had permission, the older brother’s insurance policy is liable for the injuries up to the statutory limit. So instead of admitting he gave permission, the older brother, claims he never gave permission on the day of the accident, and in fact, just happened to call his brother to tell him not to take the car. The accident victim is left with a broken arm and damaged back, medical bills, a vehicle the was completely destroyed and her only form of transportation being a bike. The younger brother claims he believed he had permission. The defense holds up any settlement and the case goes to trial over three years after the accident.
So on the witness stand, the older brother freely tells whatever story he can in order to try and convince a jury the no permission was given. Time and time again he is shown to have lied to nearly every critical fact. Yet, what consequences was there for such disregard for the oath administered merely minutes prior to the rendering of the false testimony? So long as there are no consequences for perjury, perjury will prevail when truth should reign supreme.
If we do not insist on integrity, we can not insist on justice. If we do not enforce the law, there is no law. By extension, if there is no integrity in testifying, nor enforcement when perjury is committed, then there is no truth. Truth becomes subjective according to the one who states a “fact” under oath. Black is white and white is black. Day is night and night is day.
Without the backing of judicial enforcement, or a really good trial lawyer, we personally cannot “force” others to tell the truth. Truth can only start with ourself. One person at a time, one truth at a time until day is day, white is white and truth is right.
Am I naive in this thinking? Maybe. But I can sleep at night. I hope you can as well.