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  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
Edmund Burke

Defining lying, or a lie, according to the dictionary

  • Encarta lists 9 definitions for lie with number nine defining a lie as an intransitive verb meaning:

    9. be acceptable in law: to be acceptable as an assertion or as evidence in court

  • WordReference lists lying as being:

    lying, prevarication, fabrication, the deliberate act of deviating from the truth

  • WordReference also lists lie as being:

    A noun
    lie, prevarication

    a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth

  • The Catholic Encyclopedia goes into more detail:

    Lying, as defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, is a statement at variance with the mind. This definition is more accurate than most others which are current. Thus a recent authority defines a lie as a false statement made with the intention of deceiving. But it is possible to lie without making a false statement and without any intention of deceiving. For if a man makes a statement which he thinks is false, but which in reality is true he certainly lies inasmuch as he intends to say what is false, and although a well-known liar may have no intention of deceiving others -- for he knows that no one believes a word he says -- yet if he speaks at variance with his mind he does not cease to lie.

    Following St. Augustine and St. Thomas, Catholic divines and ethical writers commonly make a distinction between (1) injurious, or hurtful, (2) officious, and (3) jocose lies. Jocose lies are told for the purpose of affording amusement. Of course what is said merely and obviously in joke cannot be a lie: in order to have any malice in it, what is said must be naturally capable of deceiving others and must be said with the intention of saying what is false. An officious, or white, lie is such that it does nobody any injury: it is a lie of excuse, or a lie told to benefit somebody. An injurious lie is one which does harm.

We have found that corporate lawyers, while piously claiming they are "officers of the court" and therefor cannot lie, routinely engage in lying to the Court. In many cases, the lawyers are not deviating from the truth; they are stating facts. However, these facts are often not complete (as in the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, a la the Perry Mason era.)

The Catholic Encyclopedia quote above omits another decsription of a lie: when someone tells the truth in such a way as to create a false impression in the mind or view of another. An example of that dates back to a joke from the 1950s. The US and the Soviet Union held a stock car race in which there were only two vehicles; one from each country. The American car won the race. The US newspapers reported that the American car had won the two-car race. The USSR paper reported that the Soviet car had come in second while the American car was next to last. The USSR paper told the truth but only a partial truth; the partial truth created a false impression in the mind of the reader and therefor it was a lie.

In our opinion, making a statement of fact that creates a false impression while omitting qualifying details, is a lie. In most cases, corporate lawyers will deny knowing, or being aware, of the "qualifying details" mentioned above, however, that will not prevent them of accusing the other side of the responsibility of being aware of them same of which they are willfully ignorant. Ignorance of the facts has never prevented a lawyer from vigorously defending a client.

We have encountered this a number of times dealing with dealing and pleadings from corporate lawyers.