Corroboration Is Critical Because Memory Is Unreliable

When I was young and naive, I often thought that meant one party was telling truth (my client!), and the other side was full of dirty, vicious liars.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that more often than not both sides believed their own stories, and the longer the case dragged on, the more they hardened in their positions. That’s one reason why good lawyers, when interviewing clients, ask a few simple, key questions. “Did you take notes of these conversations?” “Did you tell anyone else this happened?” “Are there any emails or memos reflecting these agreements?” You’re constantly on a quest for the sword that slays the legal beast — corroborating evidence.

That’s one reason why I’ve always been dissatisfied with the declaration, “Women don’t lie about rape.” Sure, some small number of women do affirmatively lie, but as a general matter, the word “lie” is an odd fit for a real world where perceptions differ and memories are malleable. And, by the way, this isn’t “right-wing denialism,” it’s just scientific fact.

.. I argued that the right question to ask is whether it’s more likely than not that the accusations are true. And if there isn’t any corroboration or external evidence outside of Christine Ford’s three-decades-old recollections, that’s simply not sufficient basis for derailing the nomination of an outstanding jurist — no matter how fiercely they’re believed.