NOTE: Last month, State Bar President Andy Guilford wrote about The
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the From the
President column (August, page 8). The response was overwhelming; a small part of it
is reflected here.
. . . a certain power
Thank you for standing up for whats right. I believe that
seeking the truth is not only a morally superior way to practice law, but practically
superior as well. There is a power that accompanies one who pursues the truth that those
imitating it dont get.
I know that many of our colleagues and non-lawyers dont believe
this, but I would leave the profession the minute I couldnt. Thanks again for saying
it so clearly.
Rancho Santa Margarita
. . . unassailable credibility
Each time I administer, or have the court clerk administer, the oath
in court, I think maybe I should add a little commentary about how we really mean it in
this legal forum. It takes people like you at the top to keep this issue warm.
Each of the examples you gave in your opinion was real and probably
very close to each of us. We cant have the little white lies govern our
And it is very hard to separate our personal conduct and our legal
conduct. We must use the same standards of truth in each of them or both our professional
and our personal lives lose credibility.
Bravo Zulu (Navy expression for well done).
Tom Burr, Superior Court Commissoner
. . . good for the profession
Bravo! I am glad you spoke out on the issue of truth. We lawyers need
to be continually reminded of this issue. It is so easy to rationalize away the commitment
Keep on speaking out. Youre doing the profession (and society)
Terry Bork, Deputy District Attorney
... a standard to attain
Ive never before written to anyone regarding what I have read,
but your opinion piece is an exception. It should be mandatory reading and memorization
for every California lawyer, and particularly for all prosecutors.
I would hope that all of us could honestly (theres that
truth again) look at ourselves in the mirror each morning and say that the
observations in the article do not apply to us and that we measure up to the standards
that the article suggests.
I am grateful and pleased to have read your words, even more so
considering your position as president of the State Bar and the placement of the words in
the California Bar Journal.
Thank you for taking the time to express them. I will remember them;
they now have a distinct and honored place on my office wall.
Larry F. Roberts, Deputy District Attorney
San Bernardino County
. . . the ultimate spin
Thanks for writing something meaningful in the presidents
column. The biggest problem is that people, especially lawyers, have convinced themselves
that their spin is the truth, and they no longer see their role as an officer of the court
or that they owe any particular standard of honesty to the court and the system.
They confuse their role as challengers of other peoples
assertions (burden of truth) with their own assertion of the spun truth. Maybe money has
something to do with it.
Keep up the good work.
. . . a better role model
This is a topic of great interest to me as a mother (of four
teen/young adult boys) who has made that the bottom line of honor for my children, and as
a lawyer (for 23 years, first as a prosecutor and business litigator, now as trial
attorney) who considers it the bottom line of my practice.
I often feel like I am whistling in the wind as I take more and more
depositions of late where it is apparent that the witness has not told the truth and gets
caught . . . with little consequence. Whats the big deal about a little contempt
citation and a few dollars in sanctions, anyway?
Your article was excellent, but it seems to me you left out a very
important reason that truthfulness is not in vogue of late in our culture. When the
president of the United States (also a licensed attorney) takes an oath to uphold the laws
of our country and an oath to tell the truth to a grand jury and obviously does not,
getting a free pass on perjury charges, then why should an ordinary citizen obey the law?
When his actions are dismissed as inconsequential, we are lost.
Kim A. Seefeld
. . . a chance of a comeback
I share your beliefs with telling the truth. I have always conducted
my life that way with a view toward telling the whole truth and nothing but the
Unfortunately, not many other people do, from the lawyers in the O.J.
Simpson case all the way up to the president of the United States. All optimism aside,
with public role models like that, what chance for a comeback does the truth really have?
. . . a new view of life
Your article alludes to the problem: what happens in ones
profession springs from ones private life. The problem is not that we as lawyers
have a less complete view of the truth; we as a culture have deemed the truth to be
relative. A naturalist world view (the dominant view in our society) rebuffs any notion of
You nobly call for a commitment to telling the truth.
However, unless our view of life, and thus our view of the truth, changes, that commitment
is placed in a version of the truth that created the problem.
This is a tide to be turned rather than a personal commitment.
Surely, it starts with individuals. Husbands and wives must commit to an abso-lute version
of the truth. They must then pass that commitment to their children. Our schools, in
assisting parents in the education of their children, must emphasize the virtue of telling
the truth in its absolute form.
This still leaves one important question unaswered: What will cause
an individual to view life differently and thus commit to the absolute truth?