Legal Memorandum: Civil Remedies for Perjury in TX

Issue: Is there a civil cause of action in Texas against witnesses who commit perjury during their depositions?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Perjury; Civil sanctions; Imposition of criminal penalties
Jurisdiction: Texas
Cited Cases: 899 S.W.2d 204; 827 S.W.2d 87; 889 S.W.2d 418; 874 S.W.2d 83; 119 S.W. 101
Cited Statutes: Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 215; Tex. Penal Code § 37.02, § 37.03 (2000); Chapter 132, Civil Practice and Remedies Code
Date: 11/01/2000

When a person lies, fabricates facts or otherwise provides false testimony in a deposition, they have committed perjury.  Texas law allows for perjury to be punished both through use of civil sanctions and through the imposition of criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

In Lanfear v. Blackmon, 827 S.W.2d 87 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 1992, mot. to file mandamus overruled), a witness who was also a defendant in a joint cause of action brought by the plaintiff was sanctioned for discovery abuses and perjury.  Lanfear has been distinguished by the court in Daniel v. Kelley Oil Corp., 981 S.W.2d 230 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist. 1998, review denied), on its facts and upon the related issue of when, and whether, the court may impose a severe sanction against a perjurer.  Lanfear failed to properly respond to discovery requests and also perjured himself during the course of discovery by signing a response to interrogatories which contained false information and by testifying falsely at a motion hearing. 827 S.W.2d at 88-89.  The plaintiff brought a motion for sanctions under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 215.  Id. at 89.  Rule 215(2)(b) states that parties who fail to comply with proper discovery requests may have sanctions brought against them.  The sanctions which are available are widespread and may include an order disallowing further discovery, an order charging discovery expenses against the party, an order that particular matters may be taken as established against that party’s interests, an order striking pleadings or […]

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