Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Perjury - big deal or not?

Just how big a deal is perjury? You know, when you raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth (the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), and then you don't?. Is this a big deal or not?

Is it okay to swear to tell the truth and then lie just a little? Or a lot? What if what you say is "mostly" true? Is that enough?

Let's say that you go to a judge and swear that certain events happened and that you are worried about your safety. Let's say that, as a result of your sworn testimony, the judge issues an Order of Protection in your favor. Is there a pretty high obligation on the person so swearing to tell the truth?

Or suppose you are a law enforcement officer (police officer or deputy sheriff) and you know you have caught the perpetrator. You just can't prove it. But you "know" you've got the right guy. You know your hunch is right. You rely on your instincts. Is it okay to lie "a little" to get a conviction?

In the cop trade this is called "testilying". Hey, it's all right; the guy is guilty and needs to be put away. So, is it okay or not?

How severe should the penalty be for lying? If the person is in a position of trust and must be relied on to be truthful, and is not, should that cost him his job?

What should be the opinion of an employer or the employer's attorney? If a person's employer and its attorney becomes aware that am employee has lied under oath, and there is a strong connection between employment and the incident, what action should the employer take? Where a person's "word" is critical to satisfactory job performance, should termination result?

Should a case of perjury be soft-pedaled? Kept quiet? Dragged out?

Should the line be in concrete or in sand?

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