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

Altitunes Festival in Kelowna unveils its full lineup

The Arkells, Dear Rouge, Andrew Judah and more will take the stage Apr. 4

Malindi Elmore: Shattering national running records at 39

She recently shattered the Canadian women’s marathon record at the Houston Marathon in January

Tracy Gray: From business to politics

She was the first female MP elected to represent Kelowna-Lake Country in 2019

Vees have a short-handed romp over visiting West Kelowna Warriors

The Penticton Vees scored three short-handed goals to take a 1-0 series lead over West Kelowna

Kelowna production takes ‘The Walk’ to explore sex trafficking

The goal is to get people thinking about the situation, according to the playwright

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Okanagan students earn innovation award at B.C. robotics challenge

Kalamalka Secondary students awarded in Victoria

Notorious B.C. fugitive to be extradited from California on murder charge

Brandon Nathan Teixeira submitted to extradition during court proceedings Thursday in Sacramento

Mitchell’s Musings: Karma is king

One good turn leads to another and another…

Canada prepared to monitor for community spread of COVID-19: Tam

The U.S. confirmed one case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California Thursday

Decade-long health care battle draws to a close today in B.C.

Dr. Brian Day began his battle a decade ago against the B.C. government

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

The price of child poverty: Women parenting alone forced to live harsh reality

Latest figures available show 1,630 children in Columbia Shuswap Regional District living in poverty

Man missing in the South Okanagan located

Victor Genero has been located according to RCMP. He was last seen in Penticton on Feb. 24.

Most Read