The Facts Matter
A fact is defined as a thing that is indisputably the case or a piece of information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article. This is why it is important to know the facts or check facts you hear before relying on them or passing them; don’t simply take them as true.
We live in a world where most people blindly believe what they read on the Internet or hear on television. But facts and truth matter, whether in the news or for you. In my world the facts, and the details related to the facts, make differences as to whether my clients have a chance of success or not in disputes and lawsuits. If I make an unsupported statement in a legal pleading or in court, in addition to not helping my client, I hurt my credibility generally and specifically – judges are smart and remember attorneys who do not support their positions well, let alone make outright misrepresentations in an effort to win for their client.
The idea that facts matters hit home for me recently when ESPN reported that my alma mater’s basketball coach was implicated in the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. The story was based on facts that ESPN failed to check, which included alleged wiretapped conversations and what was supposedly discussed in those conversations. But ESPN did not confirm the accuracy of what they were reporting, or its source, before repeating the story over and over again. Instead, less than forty-eight hours after the initial report, it is clear that no one at ESPN (or any other news outlet) has heard the tapes and that the “facts” they reported and how they interpreted those facts do not make sense if a simple time line is done. Importantly and interestingly, since twenty-four hours after they first reported them, ESPN has generally been radio-silent on the allegations.
Now, this does not mean the coach did or didn’t do anything improper or illegal, but the damage is done. The University of Arizona has already lost one high-level basketball recruit. It is in a no-win situation with the coach because his reputation has been significantly damaged, and therefore so has his ability to recruit top high school players. He may not be able to coach again. If he did something wrong then that is a good result. If he didn’t, his life has been ruined by people reporting hearsay information in a rush to be the first to report the story. How would you feel if happened to you or someone you know?
The point is that you need to make sure you have the facts straight in all situations. Each of our reputations relies on people believing us and relying on what we say. If you have the facts wrong, or don’t take the time to confirm you have them right, you are doing a disservice to the people you are dealing with, whether paying customers or clients - friends or family. People will question what you say if you ignore the facts, or in some cases, the lack of facts. So always do your best to get the facts straight.
As always, this post and others can be found on my blog, BusinessLawGuy’sBlog .
About the author: Neal Bookspan is a partner at the Phoenix, Arizona law firm of Jaburg Wilk . He assists clients with business issues, commercial litigation , workouts and bankruptcy litigation. Neal can be reached at 602.248.1000