Torah Portion: Mishpatim
Do not accept a false report (Shemos 23:1).
It is a negative commandment for a judge that he not listen to the arguments of one litigant when the other one is not present, as it is written, Do not accept a false report (Shemos 23:1). The meaning of this is that people are willing to speak falsehood when their opponent is not present. So [the Holy One] commanded the judges about this so that the lies of this litigant not enter his soul. Our Sages also said that this commandment is also directed at the litigant himself that he not present his case in the absence of the other, even if the judge is willing to listen to him [alone]
The root of this commandment is obvious, for falsehood is despicable in the eyes of all. There really is nothing more reprehensible than this; curse and blight are found in the homes of all those who love [falsehood]. Now, Hashem, may He be blessed, is True and all that is associated with Him is Truth and blessing only comes to those who cling to His ways, so that they must be truthful just as He is the God of Truth; they must be compassionate just as He is known to be compassionate, and they must also do acts of kindness just as He overflows with kindness. But all those whose deeds are the opposite of Hashem’s good traits—those who are committed to falsehood—will likewise always suffer the opposite of Hashem’s attributes: Instead of His trait of blessing they will suffer blight and curse and instead of joy, peace and pleasure they will experience worry, quarrels, and sorrow. The Torah therefore warns us to stay very far away from falsehood, as it is written, Distance yourself from a false word (ibid. 23:7). For the same reason we were commanded about keeping that distance, the Torah warns us that we not incline our ears to even hearing anything that we think might be false, even if we are not sure that it is false.
Among the laws of the mitzvah is the rule that any judge who knows that there is some lie involved in the case must remove himself from the case.
It applies in all places and at all times, to men who are fit to judge. Women, as well, are forbidden to present their arguments to the judge in the absence of the other litigant. They are likewise warned to distance themselves from all falsehood to the same extent as men.