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Perjury is More Irrelevant Than You Might Think

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

By Ella George

Perjury, the illegal act of lying to the court after taking an oath or affirmation, seems like a simple crime that would put anyone behind bars. However, it is so hard to verify that it has become insignificant. Judges are trained to make the right choices in court, perjury is too hard to prove to get anyone convicted, and the expense of the trials are unworthy of their outcomes. This law that supposedly prevents people from lying in court is an ineffective threat, and therefore unnecessary.

First, experienced judges can differentiate true and false testimonies. Fran Brochstein, a Texas family attorney and mediator with 33 years of experience, has shared that, “Many people lie under oath. Judges are used to it… What a judge does is take the person’s testimony into consideration when making a final decision.”

Judges frequently find evidence that invalidates or contradicts people’s testimonies, which makes it pointless to have the sharing of such information be illegal. In their article "What Happens When Someone Lies Under Oath," Modern Law (a family-run firm that provides online information relating to legal processes) tells their readers that “judges can usually tell when a person is being dishonest because people often lie without thinking about it all the way through…When you begin asking them about details, it should become obvious they are ‘filling in the blanks.’” Modern Law essentially claims that if someone is lying, chances are the judge already noticed. There shouldn’t be a law against lying in court because perjury doesn’t prevent dishonesty, judges do.

Further, perjury is very hard to prove, so very few people really face punishment if accused of it. In the previously referenced article by Modern Law, they concluded that “it is unlikely the other party will be charged criminally.” The law firm understands that perjury is rarely punished, and therefore lets their audience know that there’s almost never a valid reason to try to convict those that commit perjury.

In Rebecca Shabad’s article, “5 People Who Lied to Congress, and What Happened to Them,” she writes about how Roger Clemens, a major league baseball player for both the New York Yankees and Red Sox, was acquitted of all charges four years after he was accused of making a false statement related to using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. The heavy expense required to maintain a trial like that on top of the time wasted by all that participated stripped the trial of its purpose.

Which leads to this final point: the cost of holding a trial for perjury consists of an unreasonable amount of money and time, all of which is often sacrificed for no results. According to the article “How Much Do Lawyers Cost? 2023 Guide” written by Christy Bieber, J.D., “the average attorney hourly rate was $313.00 in 2022 [and] your lawyer might require a $1,000 or a $2,000 retainer before beginning to work on your…case.”

Thus, hours upon hours of cases destined to come to no fruition will put a senseless dent in anyone’s wallet. The best way to avoid an excess of damaging expenses is to do away with perjury completely. To give an additional insight on how long just one court trial could take, D. A. Sipes from the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in his article “Lengths Courts Go to Try a Case -- And Possible Remedies” that “the median length for civil trials ranged from 10 to 30 hours and the median length for criminal trials ranged from 6.5 to more than 23 hours.” Trials can be dragged on for a lot longer than necessary, especially for something difficult to prove like perjury. The prosecution of lying in court is therefore a waste of time and money, necessitating its removal.

In the end, perjury goes regularly undetected and unpunished so the law against it shouldn’t exist. Perjury is very hard to prove, so those accused often don’t get convicted. It is up to judges and their experience in detecting truth to make a fair decision. Trials held for perjury consume serious amounts of money and time and frequently yield no results. Consequently, the law preventing the act of lying in court, perjury, is far more irrelevant than one might think.


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