When a complaint is first filed, per case law, courts have a duty to assume each allegation you make on information and belief as long as they are each not contradicting any other statement or other evidence present at the time of filing for the purpose of evaluating if there is any actionable causes.

What authority governs any similar duties of your own attorney when you make similarly non-contradictory, consistent statements to them until you assert that you relayed every fact you deem relevant? Is the denial of believing their client before they asserted that each and every fact they deemed relevant was relayed a breach of fiduciary duty absent contradiction in evidence?

I presume it is since without all the facts present, it is not plausible to presume that any facts that may be relayed would not over turn any conclusion made before that time.

I am interested in attorney-client duties and privileges based on laws in effect at any given time between the period from 2017 to our present day in the U.S. and California; any other jurisdictions or eras may be interesting, too!

  • 1
    Under what law or doctrine in CA or anywhere in the U.S. does a court need to believe what a plaintive asserts? Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 6:24
  • @George White Thank you, I'll update it for clarity!
    – kisspuska
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 6:25
  • 1
    "and no more than 5 years" ??? I don't understand what this phrase is talking about.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 7:32
  • @ohwilleke I think that the OP was recent law, not things more than 5 years old. If so, the OP misunderstands things a bit. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 14:05
  • Sorry about the confusion, I tried to described the maxim breadth of “present day” being any day between ~mid-2016 to today. I narrowed and clarified it!
    – kisspuska
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 15:04

2 Answers 2


When a complaint is first file, per case law, courts have a duty to believe each allegation you make on information and belief as long as they are each not contradicting any other statement or other evidence present at the time of filing.

This isn't true. The court doesn't have to actually believe you. The court merely has to assume for sake of argument that the things said are true for the narrow purpose of evaluating whether they describe a legal wrong in a formal sense.

Also, under modern federal pleading rules in the U.S., the judge doesn't have to believe you and can dismiss your complaint if it is not "plausible."

Your attorney has a duty to not merely assume that everything that a client tells the lawyer is true. In federal court, the governing rule is Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which states that when an attorney files and signs a document in court that the attorney:

certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:

(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;

(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law;

(3) the factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, will likely have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and

(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.

The California state law obligations is more or less identical in substance, although the procedural rules of California are codified differently than the federal rules.

So, a lawyer is required to reasonably inquire into whether the client is telling the lawyer the truth about the client's motives and about the facts. It is a breach of the lawyer's duties to the court and the profession to simply take what a client tells the lawyer at face value, accepting it uncritically.

  • Sorry for the imprecise descriptions, I only had the understanding of the rules as outlined in the question. Thank you for the answer and clarifying this!
    – kisspuska
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 15:33

To ohwilleke's excellent answer I would add a brief discussion of the word "assume." Colloquially, we often use this word to describe a conclusion that we have drawn from a set of facts. For example, if someone complains about having to wear a sweater in the office when the outside temperature is 35°C (95°F), you might say "I assume that you can't change the thermostat setting."

This is not at all what "assume" means in law. Here, it is used to denote a logical "given": a fact that is taken to be true for the purpose of a particular analysis, without regard to whether it actually is true.

This is useful in law because courts don't like to grapple with difficult or controversial questions if they can dispose of a case by an easier route. In particular, a trial is a venue for deciding the truth of facts, and if the case may be decided without having to decide which facts are true, no trial is necessary.

The judge will assume that the plaintiff's allegations are true when analyzing a defendant's motion for dismissal, and that the defendant's allegations are true when analyzing a plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The granting of either motion doesn't mean that the court believes either set of facts; it just means that it isn't necessary to rule on the facts in order to dispose of the case. If it is necessary to decide which facts are true, then the court schedules a trial. During that trial, none of the disputed facts is assumed to be true.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .