Most of us have had the opportunity to view the Kavanaugh hearing. And while his conformation vote rapidly approaches many people are still trying to decide whom to believe.
I’m here to held you determine a few of the factors you should consider before coming to a decision. I will focus on just three factors that should be considered; what weight should attach to the testimony of the witnesses; how do you determine the credibility of a witness; and how is character determined.
Evaluating The Testimony of A Witness
Proof is evidence offered, that has the power to convince the mind of the existence of a fact, and thus produce belief. Most transactions are proved by the testimony of persons who have seen or heard them. The weight to be given such testimony depends in a large measure upon the credibility of the witnesses.
In weighing the testimony of witnesses, the jury may take into con¬sideration, among other things; the witness’s means of knowledge, the perceived honesty of the witness – or lack thereof, the opportunity of the witness to see and know the things about which s/he testifies, the conduct of the witness on the witness stand and their manner of testifying. The manner in which a witness testifies may give rise to doubts of his/her sincerity, and create the impression that s/he is giving a wrong coloring to material facts.
The interest of the witness in the result of the hearing, and his/her consequent bias; particularly if the witness’ testimony is uncor¬roborated or is contradicted by other evidence.
All these things may properly be considered in determining the weight, which should be given to statements. The intent and purport of testimony must be distilled from all their words, and not from any particular few torn out of context.
Credibility of the Witness
Credibility is defined as worthiness of belief, that quality in a witness that renders his evidence worthy of belief. To determine credibility you may consider any matter, which may have a bearing on the subject. Such as; the demeanor and the behavior of the witness on the witness stand; his/her manner of testifying, whether the witness impresses you as a truthful person; whether the witness impressed you as having an accurate memory and good recollection; whether the witness had a full opportunity to observe the acts about which he or she has testified; does the witness have an interest in the outcome, or any motive for not telling the truth?
Two or more persons observing an incident or transaction may see or hear it differently, a misrecollection, like a failure of recollection, is not an uncommon experience. In weighing the effect of the inconsistency or discrepancies between the parties consider whether they pertain to a matter of important or unimportant detail, and whether the inconsistency or discrepancy results from innocent error or intentional falsehood.
You may also consider the reasonableness or unreasonableness, the probability or improbability, of the testimony of a witness in determining whether to accept it as true and accurate. You may consider whether the witness has been contradicted or corroborated by other credible evidence.
If you believe that any witness has shown him or herself to be biased or prejudiced, you may consider and determine whether such bias or prejudice has colored the testimony of the witness so as to affect the desire and capability of that witness to tell the truth. You should give the testimony of each witness such weight as in your judgment it is fairly entitled to receive.
Character is defined as “the aggregate of the moral qualities, which belong to, and distinguish a person; the general result of ones distinguishing attributes.
Evidence to prove the good or bad character of a party must relate and be confined to the “general reputation” which such person sustains in the community. It is not enough that such testimony be based upon what some or a few others have said regarding the reputation of the party in question. The witness must be able to state what is generally said of him. Reputation is not what a few persons say or may think about the party in question; it is what the community generally believes. It follows that evidence of mere rumors of ill repute concerning the party is not admissible as proof of reputation.
Mere rumors are not tantamount to reputation, inasmuch as reputation involves a notion of the general estimate of a person by the community as a whole. Evidence of specific acts or conduct of the party in question, upon a particular occasions, are usually held to be inadmissible as evidence of reputation.
While one must be prepared to defend his general reputation, it would be unfair to compel him to defend specific acts alleged as proof of bad reputation or character, and that such evidence would have the further effect of raising collateral issues and divert¬ing the minds of the jury from the matter at hand.
However the reputation of a party for intemperance may also be admitted in evidence when his intemperance is pertinent to the issues in¬volved.
Dr. Blasey-Ford Statement of Facts:
She grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and attended the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Girls at Holton-Arms frequently met and became friendly with boys from all-boys schools in the area; including Georgetown Prep. This is how she met Brett Kavanaugh.
In the summer of 1982, she spent most days at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, swimming and diving. One evening that summer she attended a small gathering at a house in the Chevy Chase, Maryland. There were four boys she remember being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P. J. Smyth, and one other boy whose name she cannot recall.
When Dr. Ford and her friend Leland Ingham arrived at the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room on the first floor of the house. She drank one beer that evening, Brett and Mark were visibly drunk.
Early in the evening, she went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When she got to the top of the stairs, she was pushed into a bedroom, she didn’t see who pushed her. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom behind her and locked the door.
There was music playing in the bedroom, it was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark. She was pushed onto a bed and Brett got on top of her, and began running his hands over her body and grinding his hips into her. She yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear her, and she tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped her and tried to take off her clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because she was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under her clothes. Dr. Ford believed Brett was going to rape her.
When she tried to yell for help Brett put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. This was what terrified her the most, and has had the most lasting impact on her life. It was hard for her to breathe, and she thought that Brett would accidentally kill her.
Brett and Mark were laughing during the attack; they both seemed to be having a good time. Mark was urging Brett on, although at times he told Brett to stop. A couple of times she made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help her, but he did not. During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of her. The last time he did this, they toppled over and Brett fell off of her. She was able to get up and run out of the room.
Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. She ran into the bathroom and locked the door. She heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom laughing and loudly walk down the narrow stairs, pin-balling off the walls on the way down. She waited and when she did not hear them come back up the stairs, she left the bathroom, ran down the stairs, through the living room, and left the house. She remember being on the street and feeling an enormous sense of relief that she had escaped from the house and that Brett and Mark were not coming after her.
Judge Kavanaugh Defense
Judge Kavanaugh denies he was involved in the event. Since the assault is alleged to have occurred over 30 years ago and Dr. Blasey-Ford could only recall a general date and location, Judge Kavanaugh can’t say, where he was and what he was doing at the time. He has denied the incident occurred and put his character in question by declaring to his good character, and submitting statements attesting to his character from friends.
What is your verdict?