Years later, Hill said that testifying during Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing was “worse than being put on trial, because in a trial you’ve got legal protections.”
.. But in some ways, a criminal trial might be better than testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee — at least for Ford.
.. At Thomas’s confirmation hearing 27 years ago, Republicans knew they were essentially going to turn the hearing into something like a trial, recalled Barbara A. Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat who at the time was in her first term as a U.S. senator. “And Professor Hill would be the one on trial,” she recalled recently.
.. Ford might be better off as a complainant in a criminal case than at the mercy of a Senate committee with a partisan chairman unlikely to rein in its members.
.. At a criminal trial, juries are drawn from the general population and winnowed through in an adversarial process. The prosecutor and defense attorney work to eliminate bias and select a group to take on the role of juror effectively.
It’s not unheard for jurists to come in with preconceived notions, though jurors are not supposed to deliberate until all the evidence has been presented. Publicly voicing a prejudgment, however — as several Republican senators have already done — would constitute grounds to dismiss a prospective juror.
And yet those biased senators, with their preconceived notions, will be free to participate in the hearing should Ford come to Capitol Hill to testify... The rules of evidence aren’t enforced at congressional hearings. But they would apply in a criminal case, benefiting both Kavanaugh and Ford, according to Aidala. Those rules preclude questioning on matters deemed inadmissible and those not relevant to deciding key issues... “For Ford, I don’t know how far afield the senators will go about talking about her sexual exploits in high school and college; but they wouldn’t be able to do that in a court of law,”
.. These protections, crafted for sex crime victims, limit admissible evidence about a victim’s past sexual behavior.
.. More importantly, perhaps, the case would be presided over by a neutral judge, who would control all aspects of the trial and maintain courtroom decorum. A judge would also prevent attorneys from badgering testifying individuals; though trials feature drawn-out cross-examinations, lawyers cannot repeatedly rehash the same topic... For Ford and Kavanaugh both, Aidala said, “the protection they have at a trial is that the lawyers aren’t playing to a constituency, or thinking about what video clip an opponent will replay during a reelection campaign... senators have different motivations and are playing to a different audience.
.. Criminal defense attorney Roy Black told The Post that the problem with the Senate is that lawmakers are prejudiced, one way or the other.
“They all make speeches and then say, ‘What do you think about that?’ ” he said. “They don’t want to ask questions, and their minds are already made up. It’s very ineffectual when you have a real witness.”
.. The Judiciary Committee’s role here is not to determine guilt or innocence but to advise the Senate on whether to confirm Kavanaugh. The committee is not bound by the criminal standard of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, either.
.. If Kavanaugh was charged with attempted rape, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Kavanaugh tried to rape her, “and that the assault, which happened so many decades ago, went far enough across the line to constitute an attempt,” he said.
.. As a criminal defendant, shielded with the presumption of innocence, Kavanaugh would not be required to testify or put forth any evidence in his defense.
Still, Black said that he would probably call Kavanaugh to the stand.
“He makes a good witness. He’s smart, he’s presentable, he’s articulate, and he’ll categorically deny it, so I don’t see any downside,” Black said.
.. whether Judge wished to testify at a criminal trial would be irrelevant.
.. Ford claimed that Judge was in the room, making him the sole known eyewitness and, therefore, a material witness. The prosecutor bears the burden to prove her case beyond a reasonable doubt, and she would necessarily subpoena Judge, even if it required arresting him and hauling him in. Failing to call Judge to the stand would result in a jury instruction against the prosecution’s case.
.. Judge signed off at Georgetown Prep with a Sir Noel Coward quote in the school’s yearbook: “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.”
.. He has described himself as having had a blackout drinking problem, and his 1997 memoir, “Wasted,” references high school “masturbation class,” “lusted after girls” at other Catholic schools and a “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who passed out drunk and threw up in a car.
.. “I think Ford may well be telling the truth, but when you’re putting forward a proposition — in a criminal court, the Senate or an administrative hearing — there has to be some way of determining the truth,” he said. “You cannot punish someone on the testimony of one person, saying this happened 30 years ago, with no corroboration.”