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U.S.A. FlagImagine you are sitting in your car, minding your own business, when you witness a crash. You are in a hurry to get somewhere, and you really don’t want to get involved, so you leave without doing anything. This happens everyday in America.

The traffic is heavy. It’s almost getting dark. Surely somebody will stop. Someone will be the good citizen. Someone will stick around and report to the police what they saw. But maybe nobody does. Everyone follows everyone else any nobody does nothing. Meanwhile a person driving dangerously gets off the hook. And there is a victim.

Of the many duties we as citizens have is the legal obligation of being a witness. You can not avoid being a witness if you receive a subpoena. Yet, we should not avoid reporting that we are a witness in the hopes that nobody will ever need our testimony. We are all our brother’s keeper. If you see something, if your conscious tells you that it is important enough, you should let your identity be made known to law enforcement and the people involved in the incident. This could be anything from a severe traffic fatality to a smaller accident. From a person getting hurt on a boat, in a golf cart, in some restaurant, anywhere. What you know will vanish and become useless if law enforcement or the parties can not locate you.

Fulfilling the obligation of being a citizen is simple. The cost to you in doing so is minimal. It may take a few moments of your time to report that you are a witness. If your brother, sister, mom, dad, spouse or child was killed in crash, wouldn’t you expect that your fellow citizens would report what they saw to the police? Yet those few minutes you report you identity and testimony could save law enforcement, insurance companies and the people involved many hours, days, weeks or even years in unnecessary litigation due to missing evidence.

Yet, so many people would rather do anything besides being a witness to a case. I see this time and time again. I have seen grown men who appear to have lived an otherwise responsible life be cowards and back away from getting involved. Suddenly some people remember nothing. They avoid a call from a lawyer like the plague. When a subpoena comes, sometimes they call to try to get out of it, saying they know nothing, when all signs point to the likelihood that they do in fact know something.

When witnessing anything of importance, especially if it appears someone was hurt or something possibly illegal is going on, please understand your testimony is needed and important to society. Report your identity and testimony. In testifying under oath, people should be one hundred percent honest. “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is what we expect. Yet some people dodge questions or are evasive and do not provide the whole truth, or worst, any truth. This is the equivalent of perjury, this practice of dishonest non participation and denial of personal knowledge of facts that should be disclosed.

Imagine how we might strengthen our nation if all of us were more conscious, observant, and willing to tell the truth. What are we afraid of? A loss of time? A financial loss? That we might implicate someone in a matter that could have legal consequences? Yet if we cannot accept the truth and speak the truth in our lives, what type of life are we living really, and what type of justice system will we have?

The next time you witness something that you know is important to someone, make a point to stop, provide your name and the best way to contact you, and be an honest and good citizen. Without your participation in our democracy, our system of government cannot function fairly and justly.

Jim O’Leary
Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
Bonita Springs, Florida
January 13,2016