Nobody likes to share information which they think might hurt them or their case.  It is not comfortable to do so, and sometimes people like to believe that it is better to not say anything.  Such a person might think that if they told their attorney the parts that hurt their case then their attorney might just give up.  However, it often does a lot more harm than good to conceal information from your attorney.

Confidentiality is Key.

The Nebraska Rules of Evidence are patterned after the Federal Rules.  Those rules of evidence explicitly provide that “confidential communications made for the purpose of facilitating the rendition of professional legal services to the client” are privileged.[1]  In other words, if you are confidentially talking with your attorney about your case, he cannot disclose that information to anyone unless you let him.

 The Many Benefits to Sharing Everything.

There are many benefits to being completely open and honest about the potential negatives of your case with your attorney.  Perhaps one of the most important is that it allows your attorney to plan ahead and prevent going down a path that leads to inevitable doom. 

Judges and juries (for fairly obvious reasons) do not like being lied to.  If they feel that a person has lied to them about one thing, they will have a hard time trusting anything else that person says. 

For example, if you tell your attorney that things are a certain way or that certain documents do not exist, he may very well base his arguments to the court around that. Or, at trial he may ask you questions under oath which would try to establish that it is the way you previously told him.  If you do that and then the other side’s attorney gets up and pulls out the one document you did not want your own attorney to see, that completely destroys your credibility in front of the judge/jury.  It will then be easy for the judge/jury to think that “if he lied about this one thing, maybe he is lying about the rest.”  Once that trust is lost, the rest of what you say does not matter.

If, on the other hand, you tell your attorney about that bad piece of evidence early, he can help get in front of it.  He can help to strategize a way to minimize the impact that will have.  The evidence presented and testimony given would help provide reasons why that piece of evidence does not apply or is not controlling.  It will serve to bolster your arguments without losing credibility with the person/people who will be deciding the outcome of your case.

When trying to decide what to tell your attorney, it is always best to err on the side of telling him too much. 

Your attorney will help decide what is relevant or not.  It is best to assume that all the negative testimony and negative pieces of evidence will somehow find their way into your opponents' hands.  You have to assume that a disgruntled former employee might tell them their dirty secrets.  Or, one of your current employees will inadvertently slip up and either say something or send something that you would rather not have other people know about.  If you do not tell your attorney about those negative pieces of evidence, he could get blindsided and your chances of winning end up being less than if you had told your attorney from the beginning.

If you are involved in a lawsuit, or have a potential dispute with another party, call the experienced trial attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Omaha, Sioux City, and Sioux Falls offices.

[1] Neb. Rev. Stat. § 27-503(2)


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