Simply Disgraceful: Lawyers Lie To The Courts As part of the 10 year retrospective, Roy Oppenheim will be republishing blogs from South Florida Law Blog. (Originally posted FRI AUG 12, 2011 on South Florida Law Blog)

What do disgraceful lawyers and Pinocchio have in common?

In the 1940 Disney animated version of the old Italian fable, a fairy tells Pinocchio that if he wants to become a real boy of flesh and blood he must prove himself to be brave, truthful and unselfish and able to tell right from wrong by listening to his conscience.

Pinocchio does not understand what a conscience is, and Jiminy appears to explain it to him.

Does a judge need to remind a lawyer not to lie in court? 

How low can you go? Oppenheim Law has long catalogued the misdeeds of the Florida foreclosure process, but the situation has fallen to a new low.

Oppenheim Law would like to remind lawyers that their duties go beyond the client and extend to the entire legal profession. It is a discredit to the entire profession when one of us, or even an entire practice area, forgets their duties and obligations.

Recently, the Florida Bar had to affirm an opinion ruling lawyers must inform the courts whenever they find out that their clients have submitted faulty or fraudulent paperwork, even if the case is already closed or if the paperwork was unlikely to make a difference to the case.

The opinion was sought by a foreclosure attorney who handled thousands of cases for a bank. He later found out the bank used improper affidavit procedures like most of the other banks and mortgage servicers in the document mill scandal. The lawyer wanted to know if he needed to inform the courts of the improper paperwork when it was unlikely to make a difference, either because the case was closed years ago or because the bank could re-file the paperwork immediately.

We would like to ask the lawyer that requested the opinion: when did you stop being an officer of the court? It is a stain upon the entire profession that a lawyer would find it acceptable enough to not inform a court of systemic irregularities that he would need to ask the Bar for an advisory opinion as to what to do.

As an officer of the court, it is an attorney’s highest duty to ensure that due process is followed and the integrity and reputation of the court and the legal profession remains intact. The quickest way to cast doubt on the legal system is through lying. That is why lawyers are obligated to report lying to the court, and why is it so shameful that a lawyer would need reminding of such paramount duties.

Just in case the advisory opinion wasn’t enough, Oppenheim Law offers a friendly reminder: Like in Pinocchio who does not understand what a conscience is, lawyers need to be told not to lie to the courts.

From the trenches,

Roy Oppenheim

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Oppenheim Law
2500 Weston Rd #404,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33331
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About Roy:

Roy Oppenheim is a sought-after legal expert on issues relating to real estate. In 2009, he started the South Florida Law Blog to address the real estate market and foreclosure crisis. The Blog has been voted the best business and technology blog by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Mr. Oppenheim has been a contributor to Yahoo! Homes, featured on HuffPost Live, FOX News, and Lifetime TV, and quoted in prominent national publications, including USA Today, The New York Times and Huffington Post. Most recently, Mr. Oppenheim hosted an Ask Me Anything on Real Estate on Reddit. Mr. Oppenheim has also co-authored two law review articles: Deconstructing The Black Magic of Securitized Trusts, and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Mr. Oppenheim founded Oppenheim Law, one of South Florida’s leading boutique law firms in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1989 with his wife Ellen Pilelsky, and, in 1994, he co-founded Weston Title & Escrow, a trusted South Florida real estate title company whose multilingual staff provides personal, concierge style service in the areas of real estate closings, title insurance, title searches and escrow services.

Weston Title: