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Unfortunately, despite the fact that perjured testimony is offered everyday in our family courts, not much happens to the lying litigant. Moreover, our family court judges appear to be hesitant to exercise their contempt powers to put an end to the prevalence of perjury.
But, family lawyers beware! Perjury — a serious evil without a civil remedy Except when authorized by statute, no civil action lies to recover damages caused by perjury or subornation of perjury. In Eikelberger v. Tolotti, 96 Nev. Lying parties and their witnesses also are shielded from civil liability for the closely related torts of slander and libel for falsehoods committed during a judicial proceeding.
Consequently, perjury is an offense against the public only, and subject only to the criminal law.
Perjury in Our Family Courts: Family Lawyers BEWARE! - FindLaw
See generally, 12 Am. In the divorce case of Crute v.
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Crute , 86 Ga. Lamb , 83 Nev. The fact that perjury also constitutes a crime for which the offender may be indicted does not prevent the act from being punished as contempt by the family court judge. NRS Casebolt , S. Of those four cases, one criminal defendant pleaded guilty and the three others proceeded to trial.
Each of those three trials resulted in acquittal. The general consensus is that perjury is a difficult crime to prove and that juries, unfortunately, do not seem to consider perjury to be a serious offense. Moreover, in light of the significant financial resources required to prosecute a criminal case, our local prosecutors prefer to use their limited resources to prosecute cases in which the likelihood of success is greater than that which history has shown with respect to perjury prosecutions.
As such, it appears that the only viable alternative to counteract the perjury that occurs in our local family courts is through our family court judges themselves imposing appropriate punishment for contempt of court. Most noteworthy of these two cases is Ex Parte Sheldon , 44 Nev. The Nevada Supreme Court held that the attorney could be prosecuted for subornation of perjury for his alleged aiding and abetting a client to commit perjury in a divorce matter.
Lawyers alarmed at criminal charges in family cases
The second reported case from our Nevada Supreme Court involving a perjury prosecution resulting from false testimony presented in a divorce case is Cosio v. State of Nevada , Nev.
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In Cosio , the defendant was convicted of perjury after he falsely testified before the divorce court. Interestingly, however, his conviction was reversed because the Nevada Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in not allowing the defendant to testify that he relied on the advice of his divorce attorney, and thus lacked the intent to commit the crime of perjury. An injured party who was unable to successfully assert a contempt charge for the perjured testimony during the divorce proceeding, or who later discovers evidence of the perjury, may attack the judgment directly if the final judgment is the result of such perjured testimony.
Rule 60 b 2 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure provides an avenue for directly attacking the judgment. Rule 60 b provides, in pertinent part:. On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or his legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:.
The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons. A motion under this subdivision b does not affect the finality of a judgment or suspend its operation. This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, order, or proceeding, or to set aside a judgment for fraud upon the court. The procedure for obtaining any relief from a judgment shall be by motion as prescribed in these rules or by an independent action. Extrinsic fraud was recognized as a basis for relief from a final judgment although intrinsic fraud was not.
In her practice of family law, attorney Catherine A. Schwartz understands the emotional elements involved in the end of a marriage. She dedicates herself in helping her clients through a legally complex and highly personal, sometimes adversarial process. At the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz, our practice of family law focuses on the following:. Testimonials — "Catherine was the first lawyer I've met who actually said and completed what she told me she would do.
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Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form. Law Offices of Catherine A. An experienced attorney committed to clients and the riverside community. Menu Contact. Home Family Law Overview. In some cases, counseling and therapy could be of benefit. For others, legal separations or annulments are more appropriate. Child custody and visitation — The best interests of children should be the focus of legal or physical custody agreements. Court-approved mediation is required by the state and is encouraged by Riverside family lawyer Catherine A.