A Lesson About Honesty – by Kristen Anders Bojarski

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Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election after it was discovered that he failed to disclose two meetings he had with the Russian ambassador during the campaign at his senate confirmation hearing.  Sessions maintains that he didn’t intend to mislead the committee, and promised to issue a statement clarifying his testimony.  President Trump stated on his Facebook page that while Sessions’ responses could have been more accurate, it was clearly not intentional.

As one who spends a lot of time preparing witnesses for trial, I find it hard to believe that Sessions did not intentionally omit this information.  Russian interference in the election is a hot button issue – Sessions and his lawyers had to have expected that he would be asked questions about his ties with Russia, and thus prepared to answer those questions.  By not disclosing the information, Sessions made a terrible mistake that will likely haunt him, and the President, for years to come.   Let this be an important lesson to all of us: always be honest.

In almost every Family Law case that I handle, one or both parties have behaved badly at one point.  We are human after all.  When we are hurt, we want to get revenge.  When we are angry, we lash out.  Some of us even have skeletons in the closet.   Sometimes a party has an asset or a source of income they want to hide.

I always instruct my clients to tell the truth.  Don’t lie about your income, and disclose everything.  If you did something bad, be honest about it.  The bad stuff always comes out eventually, so disclose it on your own terms and not opposing counsel’s.   You and your lawyer can come up with a strategy for disclosing the information in a way that will have as little impact as possible on your case.

I can guarantee that the extra source of income or bad behavior will have less of an impact on your case than lying will.  If you are caught lying in court, you will lose all credibility with the judge on your case, and there may be other consequences, such as having to pay the other side’s attorney fees as sanctions, or in severe cases, imprisonment.

Sessions should have been upfront with the committee.  Maybe they were totally innocent meetings and he did nothing wrong.  But because Sessions chose not to disclose the meetings, he now looks like he was trying to hide something, and thus loses credibility.  Issuing a clarifying statement after the fact will not restore Sessions’ reputation.  The damage has been done.

So let this be a lesson to you: always be honest.

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