Lawyers often complain that it's hard to get clients to tell them the unvarnished truth. But it can be an equal challenge to avoid facts that the lawyer really doesn't want to know. Criminal defense lawyers rarely ask their clients, "Did you do it?" Instead, they ask the client what evidence he thinks the police or prosecution have against him-whom he spoke with, who the witnesses are, what documents or physical evidence he knows about. If the client seems too eager to spill his guts, the lawyer will quickly cut him off, admonishing him that time is short and that it will be best if the client answers only the questions his lawyer asks him. These questions will be posed carefully and framed narrowly. "Don't ask, don't tell" is the strategy, and the preservation of deniability is its goal.
87 Geo. L.J. 957
Scholarly Commons Citation
Luban, David, "Contrived Ignorance" (1999). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 1751.