May 4, 2015

Lawyers feel free to concoct any theory they want and make any statements, true or false, that will help their clients when talking to the media. Floyd Abrams, an eminent lawyer, wrote in The New York Times that in our current climate, we should not be surprised when lawyers state things that "have nothing to do with the truth," because we should know that they will say anything that might help their client. It's like sitting down to play poker — one should expect the other side to bluff. But courts are not a game. Lives, liberty, and fortunes are at stake. Justice is not served by both sides playing the court for all they can. Can we find ways to maintain our adversarial system, but also expect lawyers to truly live up to their responsibilities as officers of the court? Remember, lawyers feel free to lie when it serves those who pay them. [Source]
"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..." - U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)
There are plenty of instances where prosecutors and police lie to get a search warrant, lie in court, or plant, fabricate, withhold and destroy evidence in order to win. So, why do many police officers and prosecution investigators lie to judges and juries? It's because they know they can lie with impunity.

The Court can go after somebody for perjury, but the individual who is damaged by the perjury is powerless to get justice if the Court itself does not take action. A 1983 decision by justices held that a trial witness sued under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 had absolute immunity for any claim because, the court said, without absolute immunity witnesses might be reluctant to testify or be inclined to shade the truth for fear of subsequent liability.

However, perjury before a grand jury is like perjury at trial, a serious criminal offense. But because grand jury witnesses are prosecution witnesses, prosecutors will not indict their own witnesses for lying to further a prosecution. This out-of-touch-with-reality type of reasoning by courts is a big part of why police officers and prosecutor's investigators know they can lie with impunity.

While most of us would agree that lying to a grand jury is a serious offense, our legal system looks at the issue through the lens of its immunity law, which, depending on circumstances, often offers absolute immunity or qualified immunity to those who testify in court cases. When absolute immunity is granted, there is effectively no opportunity for the injured party — the victim of the false testimony — to seek any recourse for the other side's having made false testimony to a grand jury. [Source]

Sadly, the criminal justice system often has the foxes guarding the hen house.  
"He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit." - Proverbs 12:17
Our criminal justice system, including its court proceedings, should be an adversarial process in which the “search for truth” entails vigorous, but ethical, advocacy, with the “evidence” put to every possible challenge. But, the truth is sometimes like that proverbial needle in the haystack: it’s hard to find.

Both sides in a criminal case, the prosecution and the defense, start at the same point: the haystack. The judge sits on a bench nearby to make sure that the rule of law is followed and that neither side has an illegal or constitutionally prohibited advantage. But sometimes, the judges are cut from a pro-prosecution cloth; these judges tend to forget they are put in place to ensure that the process is fair and that the law is followed, regardless of the outcome of the case.  Whether intentionally or not, these judges tend to allow the prosecution to lie and cheat, often telling frustrated defense lawyers to “take it up on appeal.”

We don’t know why some prosecutors lie and cheat, especially considering, in a majority of the cases, they have a factual and procedural advantage throughout the process. We suspect it’s rooted in a desire to “make the bad guy pay” while simultaneously building a career resume with “wins.” We all saw the kids at the playground who lied and cheated to get the upper-hand; they had to win, to be first, and to stand out as the best, no matter the means.

Unfortunately, some of these rogue prosecutors come by cheating quite naturally and are good at it; they find rules, ethics, and codes of professional behavior binding — a restriction of their self-anointed role of “convicting at any costs.” We have encountered plenty in the past and are quite confident we will encounter even more in the future.  The reason we can be so sure about this is because our U.S. Supreme Court recently gave “rogue prosecutors” a license to lie and cheat with impunity.

Prosecutors who suborn perjury and prosecutors who actually take the stand and perjure themselves should be disbarred and and be prosecuted for perjury. The Supreme Court’s decision in Napue v. Illinois holds that prosecutors cannot put on perjured testimony, much less lie themselves.

A 2010 report by the Northern California Innocence Project cited 707 cases in which California state courts found prosecutorial misconduct over 11 years. Only six of the prosecutors were disciplined, and the courts upheld 80% of the convictions in spite of the improprieties, the study found.

In Louisiana, John Thompson spent 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row. His death warrant was signed eight times. When his attorneys finally found the evidence that cleared him — evidence his prosecutors had known about for years — he was weeks away from execution. But what most enrages Thompson — and what drives his activism today — is that in the end, there was no accountability. His case produced a surfeit of prosecutorial malfeasance, from incompetence, to poor training, to a culture of conviction that included both willfully ignoring evidence that could have led to his exoneration, to blatantly withholding it. Yet the only attorney ever disciplined in his case was a former prosecutor who eventually aided in Thompson's defense. "This isn't about bad men, though they were most assuredly bad men," Thompson says. "It's about a system that is void of integrity. Mistakes can happen. But if you don't do anything to stop them from happening again, you can't keep calling them mistakes."

There are a number of ways for a prosecutor to commit misconduct. He could make inappropriate comments to jurors or coax witnesses into giving false or misleading testimony. But one of the most pervasive misdeeds is the Brady violation, or the failure to turn over favorable evidence to the defendant. It's the most common form of misconduct cited by courts in overturning convictions.

Even if state legislatures were to formally criminalize Brady violations, it seems unlikely that many prosecutors or state attorneys general would pursue charges against their colleagues, and certainly not enough to make criminal charges an effective deterrent.

The federal government could also bring criminal civil rights charges against prosecutors who knowingly withhold exculpatory evidence. But this is also exceedingly rare. Bennett Gershman, who studies prosecutorial misconduct at Pace University Law School, could cite only one instance in which it has happened: the federal government's pursuit of charges against former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino for withholding exculpatory evidence in a terrorism case he prosecuted shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Convertino was acquitted.

Suing prosecutors whose misconduct contributes to wrongful convictions is even more difficult. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled out torts law as an option for plaintiffs nearly a century ago. And in the 1976 case Imbler v. Pachtman, the court ruled that under federal civil rights law, prosecutors also enjoy absolute immunity from any lawsuit over any action undertaken as a prosecutor. The court later extended this personal immunity to cover supervisory prosecutors who fail to properly train their subordinates. [Source]

News Flash, Prosecutors Lie

The Aging Rebel
January 26, 2015

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been shocked this month to discover that prosecutors lie, cheat and steal to win cases and advance their pathetic careers. This sudden, blinding realization is reminiscent of the fictional, French police Captain Louis Renault who was “shocked, shocked” to discover gambling in Rick’s Café Américain in the movie Casablanca.

There have been a few indications that judges know that prosecutors play games even if the press does not. Two years ago Chief Judge Alex Kozinski worried about “an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.” Kozinski was referring to a Supreme Court decision in a case titled Brady v. Maryland which requires prosecutors to disclose, or discover to the defense, everything they know about a case including evidence that would tend to prove an accused man is innocent.

Prosecutors never play fair, of course, and Kozinski seems increasingly unable to ignore that ugly fact.

Eric McDavid

The first case that came to Kozinski’s attention this month was an appeal of an “ecoterrorism” case against Eric McDavid. McDavid was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2007 and was released after serving nine years on January 8. He was the victim of an FBI “sting” that used a 19-year-old, paid snitch named “Anna.”

Anna assembled the group of “terrorists,” organized their meetings, taught them how to make bombs, drove them to the store to buy bomb-making materials, harassed them when they weren’t sufficiently militant, slept with McDavid, told him she loved him and encouraged him to love her. “I think you and I could be great, but we have LOTS of little kinks to work out,” she wrote him in one love letter.” In another she wrote “I hope in Indiana we can spend more quality time together, and really chat about life and other things.”

Defense attorney Mark Reichel described Anna as an agent provocateur but he couldn’t prove it because the government hid evidence and then lied about it. At McDavid’s trial an Assistant United States Attorney named Ellen Endrizzi told the judge McDavid “has throughout his papers said there was a romantic relationship [but] he has provided no facts of that.” McDavid couldn’t provide the love letters because Endrizzi had them locked up in a subterranean vault in her private office in hell. In her closing statement she told the jury “There are supposedly love letters. We’ve got evidence of one. Supposedly Mr. McDavid is falling all over himself for Anna. But you have testimony that Anna rebuffed him.”

McDavid’s lawyers filed a Freedom Of Information Act request for the missing evidence. Some of it eventually surfaced three years after McDavid went to prison. Most of it still remains secret. For example the name of the prosecutor in charge of the investigation remains a state secret. The government has said it innocently “misplaced” the evidence.

A long, legal wrangling followed the FOIA disclosures and McDavid was eventually released after he agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge with a sentence that amounted to half the time he had already served.

Johnny Steven Baca

But, what really got Kozinski’s attention this month was the appeal of a convicted “murderer” named Johnny Steven Baca.

Baca was accused of murdering same-sex companions John Adair and John Mix in 1995. Adair was a doctor and according to police he identified Baca as the shooter before he died. But the case against Baca was always weak. Paul Vinegrad, the Riverside, California Deputy District who prosecuted Baca enlisted the aid of a jailhouse snitch named Daniel Melendez who, in return for a promise of leniency from another prosecutor named Robert Spira, testified that Baca had confessed his crime when the two were locked up in the same cell.

Melendez said Baca had confessed he didn’t like the victims’ homosexuality and that he had been part of a scheme with Adair’s son to get rich. “The plan was for defendant to kill the doctor and his companion while they were together so that it would look like a love-triangle murder, then they could take the insurance proceeds.”

The problem was that Melendez was lying, Spira knew he was lying and then Spira lied under oath about that. Worse, the California Attorney General seems to have known about it and withheld evidence that would have proven the perjury from a California appeals court.

 The case wound up in the federal appeals court because Baca is still locked up.

At a hearing on the matter earlier this month Judge Kozinski wondered why Melindez and Spira hadn’t been prosecuted for perjury. It was a good question and the court posed it to California Attorney Kamala D. Harris – a vacuous and unscrupulous woman whom President Obama has proclaimed to be the most beautiful attorney general of them all (above) and who recently announced she is running for the United States Senate.

Earlier this month a Deputy Attorney General named Kevin Vienna answered the court on behalf of Harris with a three page, prolix letter that boiled down to, “There have been extensive discussions of this matter at the highest level of our office.” Vienna promised the court that Harris might have something more to say later this month.

Maybe mañana. Maybe at a campaign appearance.

Johnny Baca v. Derral Adams (The Fireworks Start Around the 15-minute Mark)

Johnny Baca v Derral Adams (13-56132), Judgment Reversed on January 30, 2015 Because of Prosecutorial Misconduct in Riverside County, California
Baca was tried twice and found guilty both times. A state appeals court overturned the first verdict. The second withstood an appeal, even though the state court found the informant and a Riverside County prosecutor had given false testimony. The informant falsely testified he had asked for and received no favors. The prosecutor falsely corroborated that on the stand, according to court records. Baca was sentenced to 70 years to life. Patrick J. Hennessey Jr., who has represented Baca on appeal for nearly two decades, said he had never seen such an "egregious" case of prosecutorial misconduct. A U.S. magistrate who next examined the case said Baca might not have been convicted of first-degree murder but for the false testimony. "Sadly, this informant's lies were bolstered by a Deputy District Attorney, who also lied," wrote Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Walsh. "What is obvious … is that the Riverside County District Attorney's Office turned a blind eye to fundamental principles of justice to obtain a conviction." Judge Kim Wardlaw, a Clinton appointee, complained that California's courts were "condoning" prosecutorial misconduct by upholding verdicts, a rare public criticism of her fellow judges. [Source] Riverside County’s new district attorney, Mike Hestrin, requested that Baca’s case be returned to Riverside County for a retrial. A third trial has been ordered.

Prosecuting offices' immunity tested

October 6, 2010

Americans can sue almost anyone for almost anything. But they can't sue prosecutors.

Not when prosecutors hide evidence that could prove someone's innocence. Not when they violate basic rules designed to make sure trials are fair. Not even when those abuses put innocent people in prison.

Nearly 35 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors cannot face civil lawsuits over how they handle criminal cases in court, no matter how serious or obvious the abuses. Since then, courts have further limited the circumstances under which prosecutors — or their bosses — can be sued for civil rights violations.

Today, in a case involving a New Orleans man who came within a month of being executed for a murder he didn't commit, the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider another aspect of prosecutorial immunity: whether people who were wrongly convicted can take local prosecutors' offices to court. The court's answer could determine the extent to which prosecutors' employers are also shielded if they fail to make sure attorneys comply with their constitutional responsibilities.
"Prosecutorial misconduct is a serious problem, and nothing is being done to adequately address it," said Kathleen Ridolfi, director of the Northern California Innocence Project, which released a study Monday that found hundreds of instances of misconduct by state and federal attorneys. "Prosecutors know. .. they can commit misconduct with impunity."
A USA TODAY investigation documented 201 cases since 1997 in which judges determined that federal prosecutors had violated laws or ethics rules. Although those cases represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands that are filed in the nation's federal courts every year, judges found that the violations were so serious that they overturned convictions or rebuked the prosecutors for misconduct. Some of the abuses put innocent people in jail.

Not one resulted in a successful lawsuit against a prosecutor.

The latest test of the extent of prosecutors' immunity began with a December 1984 murder and a separate carjacking three weeks later in New Orleans. John Thompson was convicted of both crimes and sentenced to die for the murder. A month before his execution date, his lawyers discovered that prosecutors had deliberately covered up a police lab report that showed he could not have committed the carjacking. Then they uncovered still more evidence that undermined his murder conviction.

Thompson was freed in 2003. He sued New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. and his office for failing to train the prosecutors who covered up that evidence. Four years after Thompson got out of prison, a jury awarded him $14 million; now the Supreme Court must decide whether he can keep it.
"The importance of (Thompson's) case is prosecutorial accountability — whether or not violations of constitutional rights make a difference, or whether the prosecutors can just walk away without any accountability, any liability, any punishment, for breaking the law," said Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, an expert on misconduct by prosecutors.
In 1976, the Supreme Court decided, in a case called Imbler v. Pachtman, that prosecutors have absolute immunity from civil rights lawsuits for their work in the courtroom. The court acknowledged that its ruling "does leave the genuinely wronged defendant without civil redress against a prosecutor whose malicious or dishonest action deprives him of liberty," but said the alternative was worse: leaving prosecutors to fear a lawsuit, or even bankruptcy, every time they lose a trial.

Without immunity, prosecutors "would be gun-shy" about taking on difficult cases, former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft said.

The Supreme Court has said that, instead of being sued, prosecutors who break the rules could be kicked out of the legal profession or even charged with a crime. Those outcomes are rare. Although USA TODAY's investigation documented misconduct in 201 cases, it did not find a single federal prosecutor who was disbarred. Only one, Richard Convertino, was prosecuted. He was acquitted.
"Short of pointing a gun at a prisoner and pulling the trigger, the prosecutor can get away with just about anything," said attorney Patrick Regan. 
Regan, an attorney for two Washington, D.C., men who spent decades in prison before a court overturned their convictions because prosecutors never turned over evidence that pointed to other suspects. The men sued, but a court ruled the prosecutors had immunity and threw out their case.

John Thompson was a 22-year-old high school dropout and self-described "small-time weed dealer" when he was arrested in 1985 for the slaying of a New Orleans businessman. Days later, prosecutors also charged that he was responsible for an armed carjacking of three teenagers outside the Superdome.

Thompson went on trial twice. Prosecutors tried Thompson for the carjacking first, and a jury convicted him. That set the stage for his murder trial several weeks later: Thompson decided not to testify because doing so would have opened the door for prosecutors to tell the jury that he had just been convicted of thecarjacking. The jury found him guilty. When it was time to decide his punishment, jurors did hear about the carjacking, his first felony conviction, which enabled prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Jurors sentenced him to death.

Authorities scheduled Thompson's execution for the day before his son was to graduate from high school in 1999. Two Philadelphia corporate attorneys, Michael Banks and Gordon Cooney, had by then had taken on his case.

A month before his execution, an investigator working for them found a copy of a police lab report that upended the case. The report, based on blood found on the clothing of one of the carjacking victims, showed conclusively that Thompson had not committed that crime; the sample was blood type B, and Thompson's blood was type O.

That was enough for a court to throw out Thompson's carjacking conviction, and to overturn his death sentence. And it led to a series of discoveries — including inconsistent witness statements — that ultimately undermined Thompson's murder conviction as well. The district attorney's office in New Orleans had all that evidence when Thompson went on trial, but never disclosed it to his lawyers, as the law requires.
"It was a crazy, crazy feeling that you could be killed for something you didn't do," Thompson said last week.
He was retried in the murder case and acquitted. In 2003 — after 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row — Thompson walked out of Louisiana's Angola penitentiary a free man.

Conduct 'grossly illegal'

Almost no one defends the way New Orleans prosecutors handled his case. Graymond Martin, now second in command of the district attorney's office, said the prosecutor who hid the lab report, Gerald Deegan, "violated every moral, ethical and legal obligation that he had," and said the violation was "grossly illegal." Deegan, who died before the defense attorneys learned of the lab report, had admitted to another lawyer what he'd done.

Kyle Duncan, the chief of appeals for Louisiana's attorney general, said it's "unquestionable that the prosecutors on his case did do wrong."

It's also unquestionable that Thompson can never sue the individual prosecutors for what they did during his trial. Two prosecutors who worked on his case still practice law but are immune from lawsuits.

Instead, Thompson sued the district attorney's office itself. His lawyers alleged that the office — which was run at the time of his trial by Connick, father of singer Harry Connick Jr. — didn't train its attorneys about their legal obligation to turn over evidence that could help defendants prove their innocence. As a result, Thompson's lawyers argued, prosecutors didn't know what evidence they had to share, and, in Thompson's case, kept it secret. A federal jury agreed.

That's when the real battle began. Prosecutors in Louisiana insist that unless the Supreme Court throws out the jury's verdict, prosecutors' offices will have to worry about civil lawsuits every time one of their attorneys makes a mistake, a prospect that could leave them reluctant to bring tough cases.

In a series of rulings, the Supreme Court has said that prosecutors — unlike police officers and most other government employees — can face civil rights lawsuits only under narrow circumstances. They can be sued when misconduct happens during an investigation but not in court proceedings. And the justices have suggested that prosecutors' offices — like other local government agencies — can be liable for not training their employees.
"We can't sue the prosecutor, but we can sue the FBI agent. That's absurd," said Ben Gonek, an attorney for Kamil Koubriti, one of the men Convertino prosecuted in the nation's first major terrorism case after September 11. 
The Justice Department dismissed the terrorism charges when it concluded that Convertino had concealed evidence. Nonetheless, courts ruled that Koubriti could not sue Convertino; the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in Thompson's case this morning; a decision is expected before the court adjourns next June.

After he was freed, Thompson opened a non-profit group in New Orleans to help others who were wrongly convicted readjust to society. Some of the men who have come through his door spent decades in prison. He helps them find housing and work.

In 2005, Louisiana set aside a pool of money for people who were wrongly convicted. The payments are capped at $150,000. Thompson's attorney Banks said Louisiana officials fought Thompson's claim for four years before finally sending him a check in September.

Questions of training

For years, some judges have faulted the Justice Department for doing too little to train and supervise its prosecutors. Last year, for example, the chief federal judge in Massachusetts became so frustrated with continuing violations of defendants' rights that he set up a training program for prosecutors and defense attorneys there.

The move by U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf came after prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that defense lawyers could have used to challenge a police officer's testimony in a routine gun possession case. Wolf berated officials from the U.S. attorney's office in Boston for "a dismal history of violations" that have a "powerful impact on individuals entitled to due process and a cancerous effect on the administration of justice."

The Justice Department has recently overhauled its own training program, in response to the collapse of its corruption case against former Alaska senator Ted Stevens; prosecutors had wrongly concealed evidence about the government's star witness. As a result, every federal prosecutor must now get regular training about his or her duty to turn over evidence to defendants.

The Justice Department has not taken a position on Thompson's case. The federal government cannot be sued for failing to train its employees the way local governments can be.

Still, a group of former Justice Department officials has urged the Supreme Court to uphold the jury's $14 million verdict. In a brief by former solicitor general Paul Clement, they noted that "prosecutors face no threat of legal consequences for depriving criminal defendants of their rights" in cases where they have concealed evidence. Unless their offices face some form of liability, Clement said, "the question really does become whether there's any deterrent for a violation."

Lies may come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes have a plethora of reasons behind them, from avoiding personal harm, to bluffing in a card game for gambling, or wishing to avoid hurting someone, actually to protect someone, on into actively seeking to get some form of "ill gotten" gain from someone (material, social, or emotional). The ethical nature of lying is not the subject of this article; rather, this article is about the steps taken once you've hurdled your personal moral, faith, or trust issues with lying and have made a decision to go ahead and lie.

1. Make peace with your decision to lie. Good lying means you've already crossed any moral or ethical hurdles, and decided for yourself that the lie in question is now a necessity, as you plan on living your lie (you face a great divide, a sea change). A shaky liar often trips up through continuing to struggle with the morality or faith issues behind the decision to lie. Regardless of the reasons, if you lie effectively, you will need to reach a place of internal determination where the lie is adequately fortified in your own mind. At the same time, remember the following:
  • Lying is despised because it has a tendency to hurt, cause disruption, and comes with major costs sometimes including loss of social or financial status. And lying violates trust at both personal and societal levels, when most of us would still like to keep striving toward being able to trust one another. Yet, it is arguable that sometimes a lie has a place, to protect a reputation, to prevent hurt to someone else, to ease tension, and so on, but it will always depend on the context and extent of the lie, as well as the legality/morality of what is being lied about.
  • Some people, such as sociopaths, find lying to be a breeze. Those kinds of liars are completely self-centered, without remorse, and are unlikely to ever be considerate of another human, unless it is how to play to exploit others comfortably. For most people, lies aimed at manipulating another person will always come at great cost to you when they're uncovered.
  • Some people find lying almost impossible. Whether it's because they're inflexibly ethical, have Asperger's syndrome or they've just never understood why honesty isn't always the best policy, lying is probably never going to be something that works for such a person. Such a person may tend to confess or even put their foot in things. However, believing in total honesty can sometimes lose sight of the subtleties and nuances required in relationships and situations in which you're in real danger (physical or emotional) or likely to hurt someone with the truth, so passing a general judgment on lying should be done with great care.
  • Lying now and then is a personal decision. However, be realistic with yourself; using lies to avoid responsibility every time something goes wrong in your life can lead to compulsive lying and inability to tell the difference between the need for honesty and the need for safety - a state of mind that can ruin your life. Under what circumstances are you willing to risk damaging relationships, reputation, and future opportunities? Do the benefits of telling the lie outweigh the risks? People end up in jail for lying, and worse.
2. Consider the probability of being detected. Before launching into your lie, ask yourself what the chances are of being caught. Only you can answer the question of how likely it is you'll be found out and the worthiness of lying about the matter. Things to consider include:
  • Have I done this before and been caught out by the people I'm trying it on now? If so, they're not likely to believe me now.
  • Were there witnesses? If you're going to tell your partner you weren't snogging a total stranger in the corner of a party, you're running the risk that someone your partner knows was there, too.
  • Do you feel confident about revising events to make a whole new story? Consider being artful, as "The truth is a fragile thing, but a lie, well told, can live forever." -- Mark Twain, humorist.
  • What are the likely reprisals if caught? Is the person likely to be forgiving or likely to feel totally betrayed? Is it a tiny lie the person can get over, or is it something that goes to the heart of trust in your relationship that, once broken, is unlikely to be mended? So, have you thought about the transforming effect of untruths, "know the truth and the truth shall set you free." -- Jesus, a teacher specializing in life changing decisions.
3. Get your revision of events straight. Once you've made the decision you're going to lie, you will need to come up with your plausible alternative to the facts. As part of this, you need to figure out what you're going to say and what sorts of questions are likely to be asked, so that you can have answers to those questions already sorted out in your head.
  • Think of some specific true thing (place, person, event, story) that your lie will fit into and use those details, if you are questioned. This gives you a bank of specific details to draw on so you don't have to keep making things up as you go along.
  • Keep it simple. The more things you have to lie about to support your original lie, the more likely you are to be tripped up. Lying is a bit like chess – you must always be thinking a few moves ahead. Anticipate what the person you're lying to is going to ask, and be prepared with a response. Make sure you've thought about who you're lying to. What do they already know? What is acceptable or otherwise to them?
  • Writing out the lie can help. The act of writing can enhance your memory of it, and also helps you to sort out the sequence.
4. Use your imagination and envision the lie. In your mind, enact the lie as it "actually happened". This will create the event in your mind for you and you'll be "remembering" it when you begin to retell it to others. In a way, you are convincing yourself of the revision of reality and when you retell it, it begins to sound as you're telling the truth.
  • An example of this might be, "Did I wreck the car? Well, Yes, I accidentally drove it into a wall. So, the wall wrecked the car. I just moved it!" In the immortal words of George Costanza, "It's not a lie if you believe it's true." This works well when your situation is quite ersatz.
  • Alternatively, try imagining that you weren't the person. You're somebody else, a whole new person who didn't wreck the car. Pretend to be that person. Convince yourself that you're the person that didn't wreck the car.
5. Practice lying in front of a mirror or video camera. Observe your facial expressions. Try making your eyes go big and letting your mouth hang open a little for an innocent or believably shocked look. Also, practice looking like you're holding back tears. When you smile, show your teeth a little and crinkle up your eyes and cheeks. This is a "sincere" smile, an ear-to-ear one that covers your whole face.

6. Think about the details. Details can make a lot of difference between a believable lie and an obvious load of verbal trash. Add in extra details that help to embellish the event and make it appear more real in the retelling. For example, "I was outside Burger King having a Whopper with John and Mary" is more believable than simply "I was outside Burger King." (Naturally, if John and Mary aren't in on your lie, you'd need to fill them in to cover for you.)
  • A growing problem (almost like a disease) is remembering all the details: who, what, what brand, when, where, weather, why, how and how many, and crosscurrents of what else was happening, etc. And it turns into a more tangled web of traps for yourself; especially as it may build succeeding layers of events over the days, weeks and even years later, if it mattered to anyone else...
7. Do the opposite of what ordinary liars do. Entire books exist on how to spot a liar. Get hold of one, read it, and aim to do the opposite. People in the act of telling lies tend to do things in the extremes – either they try to avoid eye contact as much as possible or they never break eye contact. In a normal conversation your eyes will move and you will look away to think, but otherwise you will maintain eye contact. In all likelihood, there will always be some subtleties that a good liar spotter will notice (in the realm of criminal law enforcement, police and lie detectors are trained to detect differences in behavior, so learning what they're looking for can help you) but the average person can probably be hoodwinked with careful attention to avoiding some of the following giveaways:
  • Maintain eye contact unless you never do. Liars tend to look away. Appear earnest but not too eager when looking the other person in the eye. Don't look around, but don't stare either. In a normal conversation people do avert their glance from the other person's eyes naturally.
  • Relax. Don't fidget, pick at your clothing, or shuffle your feet. Again, these are signs of someone trying to deflect the conversation away.
  • Keep your hands under control. When people are lying, their hands tend to head towards their faces to cover their mouths or fiddle with parts of the face or clothing. Keep your hands relaxed. Don't touch your head with your hand, or hold your palms up. Keep your palms at your side, and leave them there.
  • Don't use big words unless you usually do. On the same note, if you usually speak in contractions (or don't), keep up your usual habits. Anything unusual about your language or tone will suggest something shifty is up.
  • Keep the smiling to a normal minimum. Think about smarmy people who smile too much when wanting to get something from you; that kind of smiling alerts you to something being up, so avoid overdoing the smiles. Definitely don't laugh or chuckle.
  • Unless you're known for stuttering, don't stutter and definitely don't get flustered. Some people blush or begin to stutter, because in some cases, the subconscious panics. Keep calm and collected.
8. Bring the lie up first before you're questioned about the matter. It's better to lie to the person in advance than to have another person question you later on the same topic. If the victim discovers your misdeed before you explain yourself, they'll have time to deduce what has happened with a reasonable degree of certainty before they ever even question you, making it much harder to convince them of your innocence in the matter.
  • For example: Justin's roommate Zander walks in the front door. Justin, looking up from the computer screen, is told by Zander that the dog ate his pasta, even though Zander actually did. Justin walks into the kitchen, discovers the pasta is gone and shrugs. However, if Zander never said anything, Justin would have come out of the kitchen angry and assumed Zander ate his delicious mid-morning snack, which in turn makes him angry and less receptive to anything Zander has to say in his own defense.
9. Make a truthful admission. If you sense that someone else suspects you of lying, admit or make them suspect you of something small or untrue. They will take the bait and think that that is all you were lying about.
  • If possible, combine your lie with the truth. Say your mom heard you talking on the phone about how drunk you got last night. She confronts you about it. Of course, you cannot completely turn around and say you didn't touch alcohol. Instead, include some of the truth while downplaying it. If you said, "What? I didn't drink!", say, "Yeah, mom, they had a bottle of scotch after work... I took like one drink and I was out. It was gross."
  • Blame the outcome as the cause. Another way of twisting truth is to suggest that things were badly wrong before the big wrong happened. For example, if you've broken something, you could simply say "My goodness, I had been trying to make that darn thing work all afternoon, right down to reading all the accompanying manuals and sticking tape on it. And then all of a sudden, the wretched thing just came apart in my hands. And it hurt me too!"
  • Add a small confession to your lie to reduce suspicion. For example, you have a party your parents didn't authorize while they went out of town, and tell them when they return "I'm sorry, I forgot to feed the dog last night and he ripped up the sofa when I was out". Sometimes doing this can take care of your guilty attitude.
10. Play dumb. Coming off as too stupid to lie is a great defense. Lie as badly as you can about something small, but never actually admit to doing it. You will be free to lie about much bigger things and never be suspected.
  • Fake memory loss. For example, if your mom asked you what you did at lunch and you had been making out with the boyfriend you weren’t supposed to have, instead of just saying "Uh ... nothing special," say something more like: "Uh, I can't remember ... stuff ... talked to some friends." This type of response sounds like what a parent expects to get from a teenager. Try looking a little confused as you feign memory loss - it'll make it more believable. On the other hand, faking amnesia of an event around a police investigator will probably only raise suspicions and anyone who isn't satisfied with "I dunno, can't remember" is probably liable to go ballistic and really drill you for answers. Rely on this approach with great caution.
11. Avoid elaborate stories that involve the need for corroboration. The more people needed to back up your tale, the more likely a hole will open up as soon as one person stuffs it up or forgets their "role" in it. Equally, if something you've said can be confirmed, such as a doctor testing for temperature, checking dates and occurrences in records, checking your credit card transactions, etc., then you are going to find it difficult to wriggle out of facts that are there in black and white.
  • Be very careful when pushing away the discussion from yourself to someone else. It may seem easier to lie and say that you weren't doing what the rest of the crowd was by going into great detail about what "some people in the crowd" were up to. This tactic of trying to make you appear more angelic than anyone else in the crowd can backfire very easily because all the questioner needs to do is talk to other people who were there to find out how you were behaving at the time. For example, your partner questions you about whether you drank too much the night before. You describe as much of the night as you can but lie about your own antics, talking about what everybody else got up to and say: "Yeah, last night was okay. You should have seen Harry though! He downed 6 shots and got chucked out the bar for hitting someone!" While this might work once or twice, if it's your standard tactic, it's likely to be viewed for the whitewash that it is.
12. Appear indifferent. Another way to wriggle your way out of an uncomfortable situation is to act indifferent and to avoid responding defensively. Keep your voice tone steady and don't protest too much. Act like you don't care whether or not the person believes you. If you're really good at this, you can even make it seem that you're disappointed by their lack of faith in you but that you're willing to be forgiving of their lack of faith in you.
  • Be very careful not to make it obvious when you try to change the subject. A person who continuously changes the subject when a topic comes up gets noticed and puts the listener on alert. Trying to be cheerful about a totally unrelated topic when a serious matter is going down unanswered can give the game away that you're "trying too hard" to divert attention from the real issue at hand. Giveaways include laughing too hard at jokes, cracking inappropriate jokes, talking about a pet topic to try and cover up the elephant in the room, and talking in a way that seems nervous, excited, or flippant.
13. Follow through. One of the real reasons why lying doesn't pay and isn't a good means for getting through life is that you have to remember it, in all of its glory, possibly for the rest of your life. You cannot forget about your lie, its details, etc., and you will have to go on treating it like it actually happened. Depending on the context of the lie, staying silent about it might arouse suspicion, especially in retrospect, so you may need to keep mentioning it in conversations the way you would if it had been true. This step might be the one that gives you great pause.

14. Know when not to lie. Finally but importantly, if you're going to lie, know when it's perfectly stupid to try and do so. There are many ethical and faith-based reasons for not lying, and those are within your own personal realm of struggle to deal with. There are some other realities where you're not deciding the odds or karma and where lying isn't going to help anything, let alone you. So, with this in mind, never lie under these circumstances:
  • To officials (government, police, serious job interviews): Tell the truth unless you fully understand and are prepared to accept the results. In the majority of nations, lying to a police officer or in a court of law is a serious legal offense. For your own sake, be honest about criminal activity; you may find that the penalty is lessened or that your lawyer can find technical or legal loopholes if you are honest from the outset. The sooner you get a lawyer and start working on your release, the better; lying first will hold things up and can make whatever honest explanations you do make seem dodgy.
  • To your doctor or lawyer: Ask them if you are speaking in the course of a professional relationship (doctor-patient or attorney-client). If they say yes, things you tell them are privileged, and they cannot reveal them even to a court or to the police. This does not hold true if your doctor/psychologist feels you may commit a serious offense, such as murder. Also, some other circumstances may change your relationship with your lawyer/doctor but don't forget that a lawyer is paid to defend you and to find "mitigating circumstances," so don't think with your reptile brain that wants to hide; use your cerebral cortex and think smart defenses instead.
  • To defraud: Never lie to people to get their money, life's savings, and other valuables from them. Not only is this an illegal thing to do, it's a really low and despicable a way to behave.
  • To an attacker: When you are being held at knife-point and having someone demand your wallet, your life is worth more than pretending you don't have your wallet.
  • To your kids. Avoid lying to your kids about family deaths or divorce. They're going to find out sooner or later and the web of lies just makes things worse. Set a good example for them!
  • To cover up for someone else: If someone else has committed a crime, let them pay for it. Otherwise, you'll pay for it by being an accessory if you know about it but don't tell.
  • When dumping someone! In all honesty, when you're breaking your partner's heart, know that he/she might start analysing your reasoning. And, if they seem to be suspicious of your reason, and you're caught lying to them, you reduce a great 60-80% chance of getting your ex as a platonic friend. (This SHOULD be read by ANYONE thinking of breaking up with someone. Honestly, lying about breakup reasons just isn't cool! DON'T DO IT!).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Go to The Lamb Slain Home Page