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Old 09-07-2001, 08:22 AM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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Does it not logically follow, that a defendant who is found to be guilty (after pleading innocent) should be automatically convicted of perjury for his false statement of innocence?

Is this not what Ken Starr attempted to do to Clinton? That is, trying to catch the president in a lie during the Paula Jones deposition, and then slapping a perjury charge on him.
  #2  
Old 09-07-2001, 08:24 AM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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People plead their lack of guilt before being sworn in.
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Old 09-07-2001, 08:38 AM
Danimal Danimal is offline
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What Ethilrist said.

And no, it's not what Ken Starr tried to do to Clinton. Clinton's alleged perjury was in a deposition in a civil case, where he is not required to plead "guilty" or "not guilty" (you only do that in criminal cases). But you are sworn in for a deposition, and thus lying in the deposition is potentially perjury. It also has to be a lie made knowingly, and it has to be pertinent to some material issue in the case. (I.e. it's normally not perjury if I lie about what way I parted my hair that day). Clinton allegedly lied in his deposition about whether he had sex with Monica Lewinsky; it had nothing to do with his pleading.

Clinton may have had to plead "not guilty" before the impeachment trial in the Senate, since that was on criminal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. But since the Senate acquitted him, he wouldn't be in any trouble over that plea even if he had made the plea under oath.
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Old 09-07-2001, 08:44 AM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
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IANAL, but my understanding of pleading is that it's procedural. If the accused pleads guilty, there is no trial, and the case moves for sentencing. If the accused pleads not guilty, the case moves to an indictment and to the trial.

This is not perjury, since it's procedural.

Robin
  #5  
Old 09-07-2001, 08:50 AM
Robb Robb is offline
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Think of it this way

A plea of guilty means "I admit doing it".
A plea of not guilty means "Prove that I did it".
I don't think there's a plea of "Innocent".

What a defendant does by pleading not guilty is put the Court and State on notice that the defendant is demanding his right to trial. He wants the State to prove that he committed a crime.
Also, perjury is easiest to prove when one person says two conflicting important things during testimony. Here, we have a person saying "not guilty", then a group of people saying, "we disagree with you". Not exactly the sort of case prosecutors would spend their time on.
  #6  
Old 09-07-2001, 08:53 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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Charges of perjury are rarer than you might think. No attempt is even made to charge most people whose lies in court are (implicitly) shown up by the verdict. If prosecutors tried to do that, every highly contested lawsuit and every highly contended divorce case would be followed by a slew of perjury charges.
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Old 09-07-2001, 09:02 AM
Zappo Zappo is offline
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IAAL but I don't play one on TV. . .

Ethilrist is basically right. Perjury can attach only to statements made under oath. Because a defendant is not sworn when pleading at his or her arraignment, perjury cannot attach.

Also, because of the US' presumption of innocence, a person *is* not guilty of a crime until they are convicted or admit to it. "Admitting to it" means that they plead guilty. It does *not* mean that they confessed. A confession can always be questioned at trial or before trial through a motion in limine which seeks to keep the confession out of the proceedings.

If a person goes to trial, a conviction cannot lie until the prosecution has proved every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can offer persuasive and iron-clad proof of four elements of a crime made up of five elements, you're still not guilty.

Until the prosecution proves every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, you are not guilty. Therefore, you are not lying if you plead "not guilty" and are later convicted.

Besides, in most cases perjury is hard to prove and a real PITA to bring to trial.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but it's been a slow morning.

Zappo
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  #8  
Old 09-07-2001, 10:29 AM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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The accused is not under oath when plea is made- got it.

But why then was the president brought before a grand jury? Starr was apparently trying to get him to lie about the statements (which were lies themselves) made in the Jones deposition in order to create a perjury charge against him.

The president was questioned (under oath) for the purpose of trying to get him to lie so that he could be charged with perjury later.

No?
  #9  
Old 09-07-2001, 10:36 AM
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manhattan manhattan is offline
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No. Well, sort of.

As part of his Whitewater investigation, Starr came to believe that Clinton had lied under oath in the Paula Jones case (how that is related to Whitewater, and all other political stuff belong in Great Debates -- this is factual only!)

So when he got a crack at him, he wanted Clinton to either a) fess up that he had lied as Starr believed or b) tell the lie again to make things easier and more clear.

As it happened, Clinton told the same story. Whether it was actually a lie, and whether it rose to the level of perjury, is of course another topic for Great Debates.
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Old 09-07-2001, 10:38 AM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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Okay, upon further reflection (and some Google searching), I find that this sort of thing is called the perjury trap, and apparently is acceptable legal behavior, so never mind I guess.
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Old 09-07-2001, 10:44 AM
bup bup is offline
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Another sort of relevant thing

When you're in a trial in which you plead, it's a criminal
trial. You are never required to testify in a criminal
trial against you.

Clinton testified in a civil trial. You can be forced to
testify there, and he was.
  #12  
Old 09-07-2001, 11:04 AM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by manhattan:

As part of his Whitewater investigation, Starr came to believe that Clinton had lied under oath in the Paula Jones case.
I thought Starr already knew about the Lewinski affair via tape recordings supplied by Linda Tripp, so it wasn't just a matter of Starr being suspicious. Starr had evidence, and did not share it with defense council. Is the prosecution required to advise the defense of damning evidence before the trial or not? I sort of thought they were...

Quote:
So when he got a crack at him, he wanted Clinton to either a) fess up that he had lied as Starr believed or b) tell the lie again to make things easier and more clear.
Was there a justified reason for Starr wanting a crack at the president other than his trying to get a lie out of him? Or is that sufficient justification? Seems like Starr's motivation was just to get Clinton on anything at all, and by almost any means necessary.

Perhaps I need to re-read through this whole sordid Lewinski mess again. Any suggestions on a site that goes into the details?
  #13  
Old 09-07-2001, 05:57 PM
TheeGrumpy TheeGrumpy is offline
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Suppose now that a defendant in a criminal trial takes the stand to offer testimony in support of the "not guilty" plea. Suppose the defendant offers an alibi which the prosecution later demonstrates to be false. The jury buys the prosecution story, and the defendant is convicted.

NOW can the defendant be charged with perjury? How rare would it be if this happened?

It's not like prosecutors don't tack on extra charges in addition to the main crime, i.e. tampering with evidence for disposing of a body after killing someone.

And why does this all sound more like the Vince Foster case than Monica Lewinsky?
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Old 09-07-2001, 06:25 PM
Danimal Danimal is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheeGrumpy
Suppose now that a defendant in a criminal trial takes the stand to offer testimony in support of the "not guilty" plea. Suppose the defendant offers an alibi which the prosecution later demonstrates to be false. The jury buys the prosecution story, and the defendant is convicted.

NOW can the defendant be charged with perjury? How rare would it be if this happened?

It's not like prosecutors don't tack on extra charges in addition to the main crime...
He could be charged then, yes. I believe prosecutors usually don't bother pressing perjury charges, since if they can prove the defendant's testimony false beyond a reasonable doubt, the guy is almost certainly going to be going away anyway. And you can't add charges in the middle of a trial; they'd have to bring a new indictment and hold another trial just on the perjury. Even if that is done, and a perjury conviction obtained, the judge might sentence the defendant to a prison term concurrent with the term he's already serving, so the effort might be wasted. Also, perjury is just a very difficult crime to prove. All these things combine to make perjury a rarely prosecuted crime.

It has been done though, and in impeachment cases. Federal judges have been impeached by the House, then found guilty and removed from office by the Senate on perjury charges.
  #15  
Old 09-07-2001, 08:55 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Maybe not perjury, but in the State of Alaska, if you are represented by a public defender, and you are found guilty, the state will assess you for the cost of your defense. And before you conclude that they might as well try to squeeze blood from a turnip, you might want to learn about the annual Permanent Fund Dividend that is paid to every man woman and child. The state will seize your dividend to pay for the public defender, and if you are eligible and refuse to apply, you are guilty of contempt.
  #16  
Old 09-07-2001, 09:47 PM
capacitor capacitor is offline
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I believe that the perjury in question has to be damaging to the case involved.
  #17  
Old 09-08-2001, 12:15 AM
DaveW DaveW is offline
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I almost asked the same question as the OP, until I figured out that there are enough cases that are overturned on appeal, or where a person is released from prison based on newer evidence being found, that no, it does not logically follow that a guilty verdict should mean an almost-automatic perjury charge.

But, follow-up question: Does a perjury charge need to be "in place" in order to charge a defense attourney with subborning perjury? Say, if the defense lawyer knew his client's alibi was a complete fiction?

I suppose this would be even harder to prove, though. "I didn't know my client was lying" would appear to be an easy argument to make stick, considering that most of the time, any evidence of such a crime would be "out of bounds" per client-attourney priviledge, right?
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