Lawyers are not supposed to make things worse for their clients and we definitely are not supposed to wager our law licenses on a particular outcome.  Yet, in the Paul Manafort legal melodrama, that seems to be exactly what has occurred. Paul Manafort entered into a plea bargain agreement with the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller. Yet, at the same time, his lawyers also talked with the Trump legal team. Rudy Giuliani said the Manafort lawyers discussed the Mueller probe with Trump’s lawyers. They gained valuable insights, added the former New York City mayor. That is a remarkable admission.

Mr. Giuliani said the Trump lawyers “grilled” Kevin Downing, lawyer for Mr. Manafort, about whether the President knew about the 2016 meeting with the Russians at Trump Tower. See Axios report. And, in fact, that was one of the areas of questions posed to the President by the Mueller team.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyers engaged in those discussions with persons who could grant Manafort a pardon. That suggests the Manafort lawyers were motivated by a desire for a pardon. That suggests the President and his legal team may have suborned perjury. Suborning perjury means to bribe or somehow induce a person to commit perjury. It is a crime. Legal experts have expressed surprise that the lawyers for Manaofort and Mueller would put their law licenses at risk that way. See The Hill news report.

And, of course, at about the same time as all this information emerges, Pres. Trump said he would not rule out granting Manafort a pardon, making it clear a pardon was possible. The president has in effect dangled a dog bone of a pardon before the panting Manafort. Yet, Pres. Trump’s lawyers must realize how that looks. A good prosecutor, even one without the competence of Bob Mueller, would almost certainly look into what was said between the Manafort and Trump legal team. As a class, us lawyers hate to become witnesses. As a witness, we become burdened with a conflict of interest and must withdraw from the legal matter. The lawyers for Pres. Trump have remarkably exposed themselves to legal liability on so many levels. They have likely made themselves witnesses to possible perjury.

Regardless of what was actually discussed, these developments have opened the door to deeper, more extensive investigation. Like doctors, lawyers are expected to if nothing else, do no harm to your client (or to your law license). Yet, these lawyers appear to have done exactly that, harm to the President’s case and to their own law licenses. This is a bizarre turn of events.

 

People lie in civil cases. They really do. Unlike what you see on TV, witnesses can usually lie in non-criminal cases and get away with it. Prosecutors just are not interested in going after folks who lie in a civil case. They have too many more serious cases to deal with. But, one woman in Houston learned that sometimes, the prosecutor will take notice when proving the lie is easy enough.

Amy Fisher lied for her employer in a wage lawsuit. The case went to court in federal court in Houston. A key issue was whether salespersons were outside sales or inside sales. If they were outside salespersons, they they would be exempt from overtime requirements. Ms. Fisher must have exaggerated some amount regarding the extent to which sales persons conducted sales outside. She was the only sales associate to testify at trial for Meritage Homes Corp. She apparently testified in deposition earlier the same day in which she testified at trial. The plaintiff was alleging that sales associates spend most of their time selling homes inside a model home. Ms. Fisher apparently disagreed. But, her testimony was shaky enough that the trial ended soon after she testified.

The Defendant had planned to call some six witnesses on the following day after Ms. Fisher testified. That would have been the seventh day of a lengthy class action trial. Yet, parties suddenly settled the next day without Meritage calling any of those six witnesses. See Lipnicki v. Meritage Homes Corp., No. 10-CV-605 (S.D. Tex. 11/18/2014). One can assume Ms. Fisher was caught in some pretty clear lies forcing the employer to settle much sooner than it had intended. Yes, those things do happen. But, catching a witness in a lie is so rare that it makes the news. See KSTAR news report. Whatever the evidence was against Amy Fisher, it must have been pretty clear for the U.S. Attorney to take notice.