I’m a Trial Lawyer and I Believe Christine Blasey Ford

I’ve been an attorney for nearly 40 years. Good lawyers identify with their clients, but they also have be able to step back and say: How would my client’s claims look to an ordinary person without an ax to grind — say a juror?

As a progressive, I want to believe Christine Blasey Ford’s charge that Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were high school students. But as a lawyer, I still bring my critical faculties to bear. They tell me that her charges are more likely than not true.

We can leave aside who “sounded” more believable. Jurors — and judges and attorneys and cops and psychiatrists, studies tell us — are all equally bad at distinguishing truth tellers from liars. I was moved by Ford’s tears and by the way she told her account. And I’m sure conservatives were equally moved by Kavanaugh’s seeming sincerity in his own outraged defense.

When testimony conflicts, what’s more useful is considering the surrounding circumstances. In this case, the circumstances all favor Ford’s account.

Kavanaugh has a powerful motive for lying: achieving the summit of legal ambition, power, and prestige — a Supreme Court seat. But there’s nothing in it for Ford to lie.

First, the evidence is strong that she was in fact assaulted: Her account is supported by a lie detector test. And she mentioned to a number of people (including her therapist), well before Judge Kavanaugh was a potential Supreme Court nominee, that she’d been assaulted by a man who’s now a federal judge.

Second, since she states that she’d met Kavanaugh on several occasions before he attacked her, it’s not plausible that she’s mistaken about who tried to rape her.

Third, her statements include indicia of reliability, including naming a third-party witness. If she were simply inventing the story, she wouldn’t name another party who could — but in this case has not — simply deny her account.

Fourth, there’s no evidence for why she would fabricate a story. Republicans have provided no evidence that she’s an anti-Republican political fanatic, nor that she’s the sort of deranged person who would air such charges to get attention. She holds responsible positions at important institutions such as Stanford University Medical School, and the GOP offers no evidence in support of attacks on her character.

Finally, some Republicans, including the president, have contended that Dr. Ford’s story should be regarded with skepticism because she didn’t go to the police at the time. But the testimony of so many women who have survived sexual assault, but were unable to speak out, has given the lie to assertions that anyone who suffered a sexual assault would promptly report it.

Ironically, President Trump himself — in his statements in the Access Hollywood tape about grabbing women by their genitals — has confirmed this. Even if we believed that his statement was just “locker room talk,” Trump nonetheless recognizes that a man could sexually assault women with impunity. As he put it, “you can get away with anything” if you’re powerful.

What does Kavanaugh offer in support of his account? Only the statements of some people who know him. This doesn’t say much about whether he attempted a rape when he was in high school.

As a lawyer, then, I see many factors tending to validate Christine Blasey Ford’s account, and little to support Kavanaugh’s. Would this have been enough to convict Kavanaugh, beyond a reasonable doubt, of attempted rape? That’s not entirely clear yet. But it presents a strong enough likelihood that he was an attempted rapist  — and is now a liar and perjurer — that Brett Kavanaugh should not be confirmed to a seat on the high court.

More articles by:

December 17, 2018
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment