I completed a trial last week that had come to me from another attorney’s office. Group projects in law are about as much fun as they are in school.
This truth hit home when, in trial preparation, I had my client tell me the story of what had caused him to seek a restraining order. He told me a compelling story of violence and insanity from his ex wife. It was the stuff restraining orders were made of, slam dunk stuff.
The only problem was that in the declaration his previous attorney had prepared, he had told a compelling story that had significant differences in the tale he had just told me. The location was different. Things he had supposedly told his daughter in order to protect her from the chaos around her were never said. Details about a weapon being used had apparently been conflated with threats to use such a weapon.
This was a document that had been signed under penalty of perjury. So how the heck could it be so different from the practice testimony he had given, testimony that when given in Court would also be under oath?
He had not read the document. He had given a telephonic interview, the interviewer garbled some of his information and created an inaccurate declaration.
Yet in the end, he signed it and it was filed, part of the public record. What to do?
I did the only thing possible and leaned into the inaccurate declaration, my first few questions to him asking him to identify the errors and explain it. I pulled the pin on that grenade and controlled the explosion. The supporting evidence was strong enough that even with the damaging declaration, we proved our case.
It was something that should not have happened and, with careful reading, would not have. So I implore you, as your attorney’s most important partner, please read documents carefully. Please understand them. Work with us so that we can best work for you.
Law Offices of Aaron C. Smith
Aaron C. Smith