Sunday, July 31, 2005

If You Are Going To Lie Please Do It Properly

When I attend at the Police Station to deal with Clients I follow a set routine of explaining who I am and my role, taking down their details, providing them with all the information given to me by the Police, explaining the law, and then I ask them to provide me with their version. Once I have heard their account I will question them and play 'Devil's advocate' with the questions I know the Police will ask.

This process usually yields good results, but every now and then there is a Client who just does not listen, or cannot provide a very good account. Recently I dealt with a Client and his account was very, very poor. It did not agree with many of the points in the Police disclosure and fundamentally the account differed in one important respect - the Police claimed that an item that had been stolen fell out of the Client's clothing after he struggled when stopped by security guards, the Client said that he discarded the item before he even left the shop. I explained to the Client that I thought his account would not stand up to scrutiny in the Police interview (let alone a Court of law). I said in simple terms, "If you have a defence you should put it forward in the interview even if it does not agree with the Police evidence. But if you have nothing good to say then you are probably best not answering questions. I can only advise you, you must make the decision." The Client decided he wanted to answer questions in the interview.

In interview the Client started to add all kinds of rubbish to his account. I stopped the interview once to ask, "What are you playing at?" The Client said that he had remembered some 'stuff'. We then continued with the interview and the Client started to dig a large hole for himself by denying that events happened, and then a few seconds later agreeing that they did happen. Despite my best attempts to warn the Client that he was becoming a danger to himself he decided to ignore my 'learned' advice and carried on with his elaborate account.

The most horrifying part of the interview was at the end:

Police: "So you are saying that you did not steal the item?"
Client: "No".
Police: "So why was it found on you outside the shop?"
Client: "I don't know, oh, whatever."
Police: "So did you steal it".
Client: "Who knows?"

I was fortunate with this Client as he did not cause me any difficulties with professional ethics as his account always remained around the same themes. I did want to shout at the Client several times, "If you are going to lie, please, do it properly!" Of course I could not represent a Client whom I knew was lying so I could not say it.

2 comments:

Lennie Briscoe said...

Sounds like he is one slice short of a loaf..

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the majority of my clients, why cant they just listen???