Perjury Trap

So an article about Ghislaine Maxwell argues that she was possibly the victim of a perjury trap. So, of course I looked up what a perjury trap is, and it is where a prosecutor brings someone before a grad jury and asks them questions specifically to get them to lie, then indicts them on perjury.

My question is why is this illegal or frowned upon? If you lie under oath, you, well, lied under oath. Who cares if the prosecutor set you up? You made the decision to violate your oath. What am I missing?

It’s not illegal or frowned upon. Prosecutors/investigators do it all day, every day, and it’s only controversial when it happens to people with money or connections (who are also the people with the fewest excuses for falling for it).

Can we have a hypothetical example of a question an innocent person might be inclined to lie to?

Something embarrassing but not illegal.

In a case like I just described, the information that the person is lying about is immaterial to any possible criminal charges. So it’s hard to see why a prosecutor has any reasonable grounds for bringing it up and compelling a witness to testify about it in a public forum. He’s forcing the witness to choose between public humiliation and committing a crime.

Somebody was at a meeting of AA at the moment a particular crime occurred. He does not want anyone to know that he is an alcoholic. He wishes to keep it a private matter.

So, if he is asked to account for his whereabouts at that particular time, he makes something up.

Here’s something that really happened:

Everyone in the Grand Jury room is sworn to secrecy. In such a rare instance, I would take my presumed confidentiality and ask to approach the bench. So how many AA members have been caught in this notorious “trap” that is sweeping the nation and speculatively tying up the courtrooms and prosecutors?

Maybe not a perjury trap, but someone I know had something similar happen. He was the chef (or owner?) of a restaurant that burned down. At some point it turned into an arson investigation with him as the main suspect. Unfortunately for him, the only person that could corroborate his alibi that he wasn’t there when the fire started was his mistress.

I think it’s human nature to try to minimize your involvement in something criminal, whether you’re innocent or guilty.

An article I read suggested that Maxwell said during a deposition that she wasn’t worried about being implicated with Epstein’s criminal case, but then an email was found where she told Epstein she was worried. Even if minimizing how worried you are qualifies as perjury, it seems like pretty weak tea if that’s your only crime.

In Maxwell’s case, they certainly have more serious charges against her than whether she was worried or not worried.

Okay, if you don’t like the example I presented, here’s another. Have you ever seen The Crucible?

I’ve not been following the Maxwell case so I don’t know how exactly that played out, but I’m surprised something like that would count as perjury. Since being worried is an emotion, couldn’t she (or anyone in a similar situation) say “at the time I wrote that, in the heat of the moment, I was worried, but overall, no, I’m not/wasn’t” or even “I was just making a point in that email, it’s not how I actually felt” or any number of other things. Is it illegal to lie about an emotion in an email?

You can’t really make a blanket statement. It’s certainly completely reasonable, and there are a lot of good reasons for, an investigator to ask someone a question that they already know the answer to.

As for perjury prosecutions, there are and should be penalties for intentionally lying to investigators about something important, and a perjury charge could be well-deserved. But it’s also possible that a perjury charge is a totally sleazy move by a prosecutor who really wants to nail someone for non-professional reasons and can’t find anything else.

In Maxwell’s case, is perjury even a major part of the charges? Sounds like calling it a perjury trap is a desperate attempt on her part.

:tweet:

Moving the goalposts! 15-yard penalty!

That’s a well known case around here, but there was no perjury trap or perjury. He did get convicted for murder though and was only released because the actual murderer came forward. It is just more reason not to lie under oath. A perjury trap is just asking a liar questions under oath.

The original question was, “Can we have a hypothetical example of a question an innocent person might be inclined to lie to?” The goalposts have been moved.

By the way, jtur previously claimed to be an attorney, specifically in a class action suit. Surely an attorney would know – or could easily find – answers to such questions.

I understand you were answering that question. I was just pointing out that the question in the OP was about perjury, and that example was not a case of perjury.

Excuse me for answering the question that was given rather than one specifically about perjury.

I’m just pointing out a fact, I’m not criticizing you.

Oh, you were replying to this post. My bad. :slight_smile: