Tag Archives: perjury

The Notion of a Psychopath or Sociopath In Court And Lying

I saw this documentary not too long ago that covered the top of a psychopath and how this personality isn’t necessarily the way it is portrayed in a movie. For example, an axe wielding maniac that has no remorse for the people they harm. Instead, it goes into a conversation on how these are everyday people who could essentially be like your high ranking colleague at work that manipulates and abuses people to get ahead. You can see the documentary here which was called The Psychopath Next Door:

For Dr Hare’s work it seems like most people use this checklist he developed to identity a psychopath:

-Glib and superficial charm
-Grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
-Need for stimulation
-Pathological lying
-Cunning and manipulativeness
-Lack of remorse or guilt
-Shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
-Callousness and lack of empathy
-Parasitic lifestyle
-Poor behavioral controls
-Sexual promiscuity
-Early behavior problems
-Lack of realistic long-term goals
-Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
-Many short-term marital relationships
-Juvenile delinquency
-Revocation of conditional release
-Criminal versatility

Why was this important? Just recently I read this article at a site called high conflict resolution and the article revolved around the topic of people that lie in family court which you can read at: http://www.highconflictinstitute.com/articles/articles-for-professionals/78-hci-articles/published-articles/98-lying-in-family-court

There were so many points that I agreed with where it seems like if people tell a false story in court in general there is simply nothing that is actually done about it. In the article it makes a statement that says while perjury is classified as a crime a lot of judges “may assume both parties are lying or just weigh their credibility.” To top it off the last part says “With no specific consequence, the risks of lying are low.” That last line had me pretty much saying “You wonder why some cases take so long?”

Now generally speaking a judge’s job is to try and flush out the truth in a non-bias manner correct? That’s why the section about “Detecting Deception” was really fascinating to me. It stated that “Few people can visually detect deception. Research on judges, federal polygraphers, psychiatrists and college students showed that all were no better than chance using a standardized videotape test. “

This reminded me of court again where for a lot of the process it didn’t seem like judges were actually forced to do their homework on cases such as reading all the documents ahead of time. Instead, to me it felt at times that certain people thought their year’s of experience was good enough. Like with my example, look at the wacky results that were produced in court where the main difference was who the judge was. In that sense, isn’t not reading the facts and instead relying on one’s senses in a way bias if you think about it?

Lastly, there was a part about examining records which states “Studies have shown that examining documents for contradictions has been more reliable than focusing on non-verbal cues. In fact, they have found that evaluators were best at lie detection when they were blind to nonverbal cues. Those who just read transcripts were the most accurate.”

Isn’t that how a court case should be handled? Example, first you read all of the person’s facts, testimonies and statements where when it comes time to actually see the people in-person then it is more about confirming those facts? That simply isn’t the case from my experience having gone through the BC court system.

Reading that article then made me think of that documentary I saw about a psychopath (Or some people label it as a sociopath). Let’s just pretend you had a professional psychologist confirm that someone had this type of a personality. From what I gather, it is all a game to them. Like say that family court example where it stated “A mother involved in a custody battle told the court in dramatic detail about physical abuse at the hands of her husband. She even submitted reports of visits to doctors and emergency rooms for her bruises.”

Pretend the person was a psychopath/sociopath and how they are really that good at manipulating people. Isn’t it fair to say that without enforcing things like a punishment for blatantly lying at any time throughout the court process it is simply encouraging people to abuse the system? Don’t forget the torment that the real victim would be going through too. I would imagine if the person knew they were going to be punished in a way that will affect them greatly when caught that it is a strong incentive to tell the truth which in-turn speeds up the court case.

Cause for most people I would imagine risk and reward is a motivator to doing things like blatantly telling a lie in court. If the worst case scenario is that someone will simply lose your case as is and they know they have a chance to manipulate people emotionally with no recourse then why would they not proceed to do so? It seems that people often need extreme examples to really understand the concern and so imagine if there was a personality type like this in court.

Why The Canadian Court System Needs An Element of Surprise For Proof

One highlight of the BC court process I witnessed was how not having a full element of surprise for straight forward civil cases in the initial stage can make an issue more complex than it needs to be. Essentially, in the court process you are supposed to provide the other party with all your evidence ahead of time so that they can prepare on how to answer it. This is supposed to make it fair. But does it really?

Based on my experience and observations this process simply enables people to potentially sway their statements into a different direction. As a humorous but in many ways an accurate example that can happen, take a look at this Dr. Phil episode about a man who completely denies having an affair with more women than the ones which he has been caught with:

For those who don’t want to watch through the whole thing, basically it progresses in a rather embarrassing fashion where when he denies there is no one else he has cheated with they then introduce another women. He then says that is really it only then for more women to be introduced. This leads to eventually him making comments such as “I wonder how many more chairs you can fit over there” in reference to how many more women there really are.

Imagine if in this situation they told the guy ahead of time of everything they knew. Basically, it will give him an opportunity to change his story direction. How would not having an element of surprise help in getting the full truth out here? Yet in many ways this is how the BC provincial civil court process works from my experience.

I think the solution would be pretty simple. In the initial stages you need to get the two parties to describe the whole version of their story in detail. After each party submits their version of the story, a session needs to be conducted where an official court representative or say a judge needs to verify and clarify any fine details of the submitted story so that one can’t backtrack from it or claim that they meant to say something else. Afterwards each party would submit their evidence where an impartial judge/jury will evaluate everything and they can sit both parties down based on the facts and statements to make a decision or to determine the next step.

I encourage anyone to try and explain why something like this wouldn’t work better for civil cases. Like saying again a jury of people on social media can probably find out the truth faster and more accurately when you minus the bureaucratic nature of the court process.

Opinion of Lying And Perjury In Canada Courts

I bumped into this old article written by Alan Shanoff at http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/alan_shanoff/2011/01/14/16894621.html who seems to be a trained lawyer who expresses opinions about how lying and perjury is taken in the Canadian court system.

Based on my personal experience, the court hadn’t shown anything to demonstrate that it is taken seriously as well. With the people I have spoken to and reading various articles like these it makes me wonder how such a widespread issue never gets resolved. At the same time, I feel the public is essentially duped into believing that when you take an oath or pledge to tell the truth you will be held accountable if it is clear that one went out of their way to tell a false story.

It’s almost like I have no choice but to agree with the phrase one person told me where things like perjury and lying under oath is only enforced if a judge becomes personally offended. So in a way, it’s almost like the processes of determining perjury isn’t say looking at what was written in an affidavit and comparing it with facts to see who is lying or not per se. Instead, it would be more along the lines of whether or not a judge is emotionally attached to a specific case where the law is then used as a personal weapon based on personal preference should one choose to. In my opinion, that isn’t right.

I don’t know about everyone else, but my initial assumption was that a judge scrutinizes a case from beginning, middle and end where there are two categories to determine. Basically, do they feel anyone is clearly lying to mislead the court which means they need to punish the party for that? At the same time, are there enough facts for a case for them to confidently rule on it? Not punishing contradictions and inconsistencies that are clearly an intent to mislead is essentially telling people that a court is nothing more than a game of creative storytelling, theatrics and a lottery of who you get. Essentially, it encourages a person to keep going even if they are lying. Hence, the clogged up court system with the extreme wait times as well.

Now even from my experience I think I clearly demonstrated that there is a huge discrepancy in terms of a case outcome depending on what judge you get in the BC court system. I know in any other industry that is unacceptable. Example, if a company has an extreme issue of say harassment it shouldn’t matter who is working on shift to follow procedures and take appropriate action. Unless you are telling me it’s procedure to not take lying and perjury as a serious matter in court. That opens up a different can of worms.