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Perjury in Our Family Courts: Family Lawyers BEWARE! Aurora Maria Maskall and Robert P. Dickerson Author’s

It is no surprise that emotions run high in the family law arena, and litigants’ perceptions of incidents vary wildly. What happens, however, when a witness swears to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” and then lies? Unfortunately, despite the fact that perjured testimony is offered everyday in our family courts, not much happens to the lying litigant. Not only does the opposing party have limited civil remedies available to “right the wrong,” but history and the current policy of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office tells us that the perjurer will not be criminally prosecuted. Moreover, our family court judges appear to be hesitant to exercise their contempt powers to put an end to the prevalence of perjury. But, family lawyers beware! While it is highly unlikely that anything will happen to your lying client — unless, of course, our judges take a more aggressive role in counteracting the perjury — you face a far greater risk of being disciplined by the State Bar or being criminally prosecuted for suborning your client’s perjury. Perjury — a serious evil without a civil remedy Except when authorized by statute, no civil action lies to recover damages caused by perjury or subornation of perjury. In Eikelberger v. Tolotti, 96 Nev. 525, 531, 611 P.2d 1086, 1090 (1980), the Nevada Supreme Court noted that “[i]t is uniformly held that the giving of false testimony is not civilly actionable.” Thus, a party injured by perjured testimony cannot bring a civil action against the opposing party or a witness who has offered perjured testimony, even if the perjury has affected the final judgment in the case. Lying parties and their witnesses also are shielded from civil liability for the closely related torts of slander and libel for falsehoods committed during a judicial proceeding. The Restatement (First) of Torts ' 588 (1938), states: “A witness is absolutely privileged to publish false and defamatory matter of another in communications preliminary to a proposed judicial proceeding and as a part of a judicial proceeding in which he is testifying, if it has some relation thereto.” This privilege is meant to encourage witnesses to speak freely, and without fear of civil liability. Our Nevada Supreme Court has held that “[i]t is important to the administration of justice that full disclosure by a witness be not hampered by a possible future damage suit. Consequently, perjury is an offense against the public only, and subject only to the criminal law.” Eikelberger v. Tolotti, 96 Nev. at 531. “Contempt of court” — probably the only reasonable and viable alternative It generally is recognized and well settled that perjury may be punishable as a contempt of court. See generally, 12 Am.Jur., Contempt, Section 17. In the divorce case of Crute v. Crute, 86 Ga.App. 96, 97, 70 S.E.2d 727, 728 (1952), the appellate court upheld the trial court’s finding that the husband was in contempt of court for “testifying falsely” and 25 | P a g e

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The Fathers' Rights Movement - May 2019, Issue No. 10  

Please enjoy our 10th issue of The Fathers' Rights Monthly, and help raise awareness for issues around shared parenting after divorce.

The Fathers' Rights Movement - May 2019, Issue No. 10  

Please enjoy our 10th issue of The Fathers' Rights Monthly, and help raise awareness for issues around shared parenting after divorce.

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