Truth in the courtroom and elsewhere

I’m an attorney and I’m three weeks into an exhausting trial (is there any other kind?).   Watching witness after witness take the stand and being absolutely certain that at least some of them are lying got me to thinking.  I’ve known several attorneys in my day who would not hesitate to encourage their clients to lie.  More depressing, though, is that I know far more clients who are eager to commit perjury. 

I cannot count for you the number of clients and other witnesses I’ve had ask me “What should I say?”  Not as in “What should I say to present my true story in the best light possible?” but as in “What should I say, true or not, that increases the likelihood that I (or the person I’m testifying for) will win at trial?”  It is distressing to see the disappointment on their faces when I suggest that they might consider telling the truth. 

So I suppose I’m asking just how important the Bookwormroom readers think the truth is these days.  Does anyone tell the truth any more?  Does it even matter, if everyone assumes everyone else is lying anyway?  How can our society, much less our courtrooms, function if people will say anything to get what they want? 

Thanks for your comments and, while I’m at it, thank you for the extremely thoughtful and informative comments you’ve been making to keep this blog interesting while Bookworm is on vacation.