The Truth as the Defeated in a Τrial

By Giorgos Kazoleas, Lawyer

Truth and trial are two concepts that seem to follow opposite paths, despite the fact that the former should be the purpose of the latter and despite the fact that the invocation of the truth during the trial is continuous and repeated. 

In both civil and criminal trials the competition between the participants in the process is usually focused on distorting and misrepresenting the truth in order to make it convenient and ultimately accepted by the final arbiter, who is the judge.

Witnesses are mostly prepared, if not «fabricated», to testify to what each party wishes to be proven. The truth in their testimony often seems to be lost or degraded in details which, however, are decisive for the needs of the trial. A deviation in the minute of time can affect the verdict, an omission of a seemingly insignificant fact can overturn a judicial conviction.

Lawyers are masters at constructing the truth that is favorable each time, the version that will facilitate their client. They often do not even know the real truth themselves (in fact they do not care to know it), which, combined with the duty of defense, frees them from any reservations of presenting the truth according to their interests. Some lawyers have actually constructed the scenario so well that they give the impression that they themselves have believed it to be true.

The opposing parties or the accused (in criminal justice) are ready to fight to convince the judges of their own truth, a truth that contains small or big lies, decisive or insignificant omissions. They have entrusted their fortunes to their lawyers and to their witnesses who will "build" their story.

Finally, the judges decide upon what was presented either in writing or orally before them. It appears that the battle of diagnosing the real truth has been actually lost. The judges will fatally end up endorsing the position of the one who handled the game of presenting the truth better in procedural terms ; or at least they will reconcile the opposite positions under a common denominator which will probably not be the complete truth.

In this view of the trial as a human mechanism for administering justice, power plays a prominent role. The strength of each participant, which may consist of wealth or power, or even rhetorical skills, will try to influence the final outcome.

In practice, the trial as a battle for the truth seems lost, depending on which interests will prevail. As Erich Fromm aptly wrote, "it sometimes happens that some interests are advanced by the discovery of truth, others by its destruction." 

Read more articles by Giorgos Kazoleas here




George Kazoleas, Lawyer

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