When an attorney knowingly makes a false statement in civil court in an attempt to tip the scale in his client's favor, what are the possible ramifications?

I'm aware that a lie under oath can be prosecuted as a criminal offense but when a defendant proves that the plaintiff's attorney lied to the judge in order to perturb justice to what extent can the defendant use this in his favor?

(I'm aware that if the defendant can prove the attorney lied the obvious outcome is that the court will not accept the attorney's statement as being true - the question is whether this has any "collateral damage" on the overall case? If yes, is the "collateral damage" embedded in the law or is it up to the judge's discretion whether to impose sanctions / a penalty?)

Is it worse if the attorney lied to the court when the defendant was a ProSe litigant?

  • 1
    I don't think an attorney will ever have to testify under oath. He isn't a witness in the case.
    – PMF
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 20:05
  • Lawyers argue and site law they do not testify as to the truth of evidence. Can you say in what context the lie was? Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 5:12
  • @GeorgeWhite When a lawyer realized his client was about to lose the case (mainly due to the lawyer's own negligence), he lied that his client was not aware a specific document existed in an effort persuade the judge to overlook the terms of the document (the Judge ultimately disregarded the lawyers request) when the client clearly knew the document existed. Perhaps the lawyer was not suppose to "testify" - he might have done so out of desperation.
    – S.O.S
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 5:41

1 Answer 1


The lawyer can be disciplined

At the extreme, this can result in disbarment or even criminal charges if there is intent to pervert the course of justice.

It may result in a mistrial and/or may be grounds for appeal.

The lawyer does not have civil liability because lawyers are not liable for what they do in court.

  • Is the lawyer disciplined by the court where he lied or by the bar? Is it relevant / helpful to even bring up the fact that the attorney lied to help his client with the judge presiding over the case?
    – S.O.S
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 22:55
  • 1
    By the bar, but the judge may refer the matter to them. A lawyer’s duty to the court supervenes their duty to their client and goes further than “lying” - a lawyer may not mislead or allow the court to be misled.
    – Dale M
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 23:13
  • 1
    @DaleM: I believe (in the US anyway) the judge can also issues sanctions on the lawyer directly in various forms.
    – sharur
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 18:54

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