Australian Judge Marcus Einfield
(April 2009)

Marcus Einfield isn’t a typical Liar of the Month, which is usually a title earned by an individual in the public eye who tells a lie that is obvious, brazen, and completely ineffective. But his story is worth telling, because it so vividly shows why lying, in addition to being wrong, is so destructive. Every lie, no matter how trivial or well-intentioned, is a freshly armed bomb, ready to explode with unpredictable carnage in its wake. The fact that some don’t explode doesn’t make their creation any more justifiable or responsible. Many do. This one did.

Marcus Einfield had as distinguished a career as an Australian judge could have. He was the founding president of Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. In 1987 he headed the Commission's enquiry into the living conditions of aborigines in the border area of New South Wales and Queensland. A Queen’s Counsel since 1977, “Australian Living Treasure” of 1997, winner of the United Nations Peace Award in 2002, he was both revered and beyond reproach. Einfield retired a few years ago, but was brought back repeatedly to judge important cases. Then, on a fateful day in 2006, a traffic camera in Sydney caught the judge’s silver Lexus going 6 mph over the speed limit.

Judge Einfield had collected several other tickets, and apparently was worried that the latest, minimal though it was, would put him in peril of losing his license. Or maybe he just didn’t want to pay the fine, about 70 dollars in American currency. For whatever reason, he told a magistrate that he had lent his car to an American friend, Professor Theresa Brennan. She was the speeder. The magistrate believed him without further proof---this was Judge Einfield, after all! He dismissed the case.

The problem was that not only was the judge’s story not true, it was especially easy to prove so. A newspaper reporter did some digging, and didn’t have to dig far to find out that Professor Brennan couldn’t have been driving the Lexus, since she had died three years earlier.

A judge lying to a magistrate, in Einfield’s nation or this one, is serious business. He was facing discipline, for certain. Still, one transgression by an old man in a moment of weakness would have probably been held lightly against him, or at least mitigated by his long, long, distinguished career. What the judge did next is inexplicable, unless he had just finished watching the classic American comedy, “My Cousin Vinny.” Remember when Vinny (played by Joe Pesci), who has told the imposing Southern judge (Fred Gwynne) who has challenged his legal credentials that he was admitted to the New York Bar under the name “Joey Gallo,” is confronted by the judge who announces that according to bar records, Joey Gallo is dead? Vinny relies, “Did you say Joey Gallo? He’s dead! I said that I was listed as Joey Callo, with a C!” In the movie, this brazen tactic works. Inspired by Vinny or not, the judge took a similar route. He said that he didn't mean that Professor Theresa Brennan. She was dead! He meant another Theresa Brennan! And when the mysterious second Theresa Brennan couldn’t be found, the judge claimed that he couldn't have been at the wheel of his silver Lexus that day, because he had been driving his mother’s Toyota Corolla. Einfield was confident that Mom, age 94, would back his alibi. Unfortunately security camera footage proved that his mother's Toyota Corolla had not emerged from the garage of her apartment block on the day in question. The judge was out of lies. And he was busted.

Now, at the age of 70, one of the most distinguished jurists and public servants in Australia’s history is going to jail for perjury. All because he thought a little lie would get him out of a little problem.

His 94-year-old mother could have told him that lying itself is a big problem waiting to happen. You just never know when that bomb you’ve made going to explode.

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