HERGOTT: Honesty in the courtroom

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Is lying really an important milestone in childhood development? If so, we come by it honestly!

It’s certainly common among adults, ranging from little white ones up to real doozers.

It is difficult to catch someone in a lie. And consequences are usually minimal.

Our justice system relies on the honest testimony of witnesses. If lying is just as easy in the courtroom, and void of consequences, our justice system would be in shambles.

There are procedures that make lying much more difficult in a courtroom, cross-examination being one.

But a good liar, weaving their story around known facts, can go undetected. To dissuade those who thing they might get away with dishonesty in the courtroom, we have made lying under oath a criminal offence. And the courts apply suitably severe sentences.

The case of R. v. Chima, 1994 CarswellAlta 480, is an example. It was a landlord / tenant dispute.

Part of the dispute had to do with damaged linoleum. The landlord, Mr. Chima, presented an estimate of $2,763.81 for linoleum replacement. When specifically questioned about whether or not he had paid to have the linoleum replaced, he testified that he had which was a lie.

It was a ridiculous thing to lie about. Whether or not he had actually followed through with replacing the linoleum was unlikely to have had an impact on the outcome of the case. The sentencing judge noted “…one must fairly conclude that there is no evidence that the accused benefited from his crime.”

Mr. Chima had no criminal record.

With no criminal record and an inconsequential lie, you might have expected Mr. Chima to face a “slap on the wrist”.

The judge in Chima quoted from two previous cases where perjury was committed in the context of criminal prosecutions.

From one: “Perjury is under ordinary circumstances a most serious offence. It undermines the very cornerstone of the administration of justice in our courts.”

And from another: “Perjured testimony strikes at the very heart of the judicial system. The court has always taken a most serious view of such offences and lengthy sentences are the usual course.”

The judge considered whether the crime was less serious because it arose in a civil rather than a criminal trial. He concluded that it was not: “The commission of perjury, whether in a civil or criminal case, visits the same type of damage on the judicial system. The system is absolutely dependent upon the honest evidence of those testifying under oath or affirmation.”

Mr. Chima was sentenced to 12 months in jail.

Perjury is treated just as seriously in pre-trial proceedings.

In R. v. Foster, 1982 CarswellSask 186, a chief executive officer lied during an examination for discovery in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

And in R v. Lukasik, 1982 CarswellAlta 184, a 30 year old mother of four was sentenced to 9 months in prison for making false accusations of attempted rape against an innocent party during an preliminary hearing.

If you are ever called on to testify as a witness in a court proceeding, please take your oath (or solemn affirmation) seriously. Justice depends on it. And you face very serious consequences if you give perjured testimony.

Missed last week’s column?

HERGOTT: Traffic related crashes and the courtroom

About Paul Hergott, Personal Injury Lawyer:

Paul began practicing law in 1995 in a general litigation practice. Of the various areas of litigation, he became most drawn to and passionate about pursuing fair compensation for personal injury victims, which has gradually became his exclusive area of practice. Paul’s practice is restricted to acting only for the injured victim, never for ICBC nor for other insurance companies.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hergottlaw/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/personalinjurylawfirm/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hergott_law?lang=en

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/HlawCanada

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stanley Cup returning to Salmon Arm after 15 years

Resident excited for twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see iconic trophy

Money available to curtail nutrient pollution of Shuswap watershed

Excessive phosphorous could make algae blooms and other unpleasant conditions more common

Eight times a charm: Larch Hills skiers win team trophy at Teck BC event

Shuswap contingent wins Midget Championships honour eighth year in a row

Salmon Arm boy is only Para-Nordic athlete at BC Winter games

Thirteen-year-old Kaden Baum competed in three races on his sit-ski at the games.

Home loss ends season for Sicamous Eagles

A defeat at the hands of the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Feb. 22 was the Eagles’ last outing.

Okanagan rescue team comes back home from Australian mission

Brad Pattison’s team spent 33 days rescuing wildlife

Kelowna mayor to request RCMP’s ‘unfounded’ sexual assault report

RCMP said the report was completed over a month ago but have yet to release it or make a statement

Criminality not suspected in Ellison trailer fire death

The body was discovered after crews responded to reports of a house fire

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Kelowna youth accused of killing 16-year-old released

The young woman was arrested on Feb. 21 and is facing one charge of manslaughter

Interior Health appoints administrator at Summerland Seniors Village

Numerous concerns raised about private seniors care facility

Man arrested following suspicious trailer fire in Kelowna

Reports came in about the fire at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Monday morning

Body discovered following vehicle fire on Kelowna property

Firefighters discovered a body in a home on Anderson Road

‘Please be quiet,’ Kelowna Mayor tells sexual assault survivor protesting in council chambers

Forty per cent of sexual assaults reported to Kelowna RCMP in 2019 were deemed ‘unfounded’

Most Read