AskDefine | Define suborn

Dictionary Definition

suborn

Verb

1 incite to commit a crime or an evil deed; "He suborned his butler to cover up the murder of his wife"
2 procure (false testimony or perjury)
3 induce to commit perjury or give false testimony; "The President tried to suborn false witnesses"

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Verb

  1. To induce someone to commit an unlawful or malicious act, or to commit perjury

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Subornation of perjury is a legal term describing the crime of persuading another to commit perjury.
It may be applied to an attorney who presents testimony (or an affidavit) the attorney knows is materially false to a judge or jury as if it were factual. Generally, the knowledge that the testimony is materially false must rise above mere suspicion to what a reasonable attorney would have believed in the circumstances. For example, the attorney cannot be wilfully blind to the fact that their witness is giving false testimony. An attorney who actively encourages a witness to give false testimony is clearly guilty of suborning perjury. It can occur in either a civil or criminal case.
Subornation of perjury is a crime. It is also an offense for which an attorney can be disciplined, disbarred or jailed. Subornation is the circumstance where an attorney gets, or allows, another party to lie. If an attorney makes a false representation in court, that is also a crime and he could be subject to similar punishment as subornation.
Under American federal criminal law, "Whoever procures another to commit any perjury is guilty of subornation of perjury, and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both". Subornation of perjury occurs when anyone--not just a lawyer--encourages a witness to perjure her/himself. Violators can face a maximum of five years in prison. That law has analogous provisions in every state of the union.
The line between subornation of perjury and simply helping witnesses recall what actually occurred is a fine one. The best theatrical example of "wood shedding" (also known as "horse shedding" [http://books.google.com/books?id=kjwVASsTUm0C&pg=PA445&lpg=PA445&dq=%22horse+shedding%22&source=web&ots=DnNsSClpMd&sig=rGf9tg3HTgWmCNOBBC6u_4IsBAA#PPA445,M1] -- for the locale of the collaboration-- or "sand papering") is in the book and movie Anatomy of a Murder, which concerns an actual case in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and written under the pen-name of Robert Traver, who was Justice John D. Voelker of the Michigan Supreme Court. The story graphically demonstrates the ethical and legal problem.

References

See also

suborn in German: Verleitung zur Falschaussage
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