An increasing number of plaintiffs lawyers in class actions are making allegations in their complaints which are attributed to "confidential sources" -- usually former employees of the corporate defendants getting sued -- who later deny having made them once their identities are exposed and they are questioned by defense lawyers.
This disturbing trend hardly inspires faith in the legal system.
The curious phenomenon of "confidential sources" who deny the allegations attributed to them reared its ugly head in a case before no-nonsense Manhattan federal judge Jed Rakoff who promises to get to the bottom of the mess at a hearing on October 1 as reported by Alison Frankel for Thomson Reuters.
In short, the defense lawyers assert "that the plaintiffs' firm is a serial fabulist when it comes to confidential witness testimony," and "plaintiffs' lawyers believe that the rash of recantations is due to the exposure of their witnesses' identity" who get cold feet "when their former employers'lawyers start grilling them in depositions about the confidentiality provisions in their severance agreements."
Why don't the plaintiffs' lawyers in the first instance simply put the supposed allegations into affidavit form to which the confidential source must swear under penalty of perjury prior to including them in the complaint? It's pretty hard for a witness then to disavow his own affidavit.
There's one thing for sure: public confidence in its governing institutions is at historic lows, and we can't afford to have a complete collapse in respect for the legal system. Let's hope that Judge Rakoff not only can find the truth but that he's willing to hold people responsible if they compromised it.
Further reading that may be of interest: