Lawyers make terrible witnesses, usually because they know when they can and should keep their traps shut. But put a lawyer in front of a computer and give that lawyer the power to send email, that lawyer can turn into a terrible witness for entirely different reasons.
Exhibit A: Emails sent by lawyers on trial in the Dewey & LeBoeuf criminal fraud case which mentioned things like “fake income,” “accounting tricks,” “cooking the books,” and deceiving a “clueless auditor” first ended up in the indictment and have been trotted out by prosecutors at every opportunity.
In an effort to downplay those emails, the lawyer for one of the defendants called a former Dewey partner to the stand this week to explain some emails of his own. The emails include the following regrettable phrases:
“I spend most days bullshitting people.”
“Do what I do. Work out a lot and do drugs.”
“If any [clients] call me, I will kill them.”
The explanation? The emails were purely sarcasm. Too bad he did not use sarcasm font. In reality everyone sends emails, tweets, or snapchats that could be misinterpreted. Those without sin, cast the first stone. But when a lawyer does it, it can be extra cringe-worthy.
The moral to the story: if you put anything in writing, even in an email, you had better be prepared to own it.
Featured image: “mature business man working with his laptop” from Shutterstock.