Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Emotional Credibility

 

In early 2007 I served on a jury for a cold-case murder trial involving two black men who killed a white student named Marty Brown on Michigan State University’s campus in 1973. I intend to write more fully on this for Ricochet in the future, but I wanted to share a relevant portion related to the Kavanaugh hearings.

Yesterday I kept hearing from friends that Dr. Ford’s testimony was “credible,” and it reminded me of a particularly emotional witness at this trial who recanted on the stand. She was the ex-wife of one of the murderers, Kumbi Salim (who did not stand trial until later the same year). She had confessed earlier to the prosecution that she had known all along of the guilt of both her ex-husband and the defendant, Gary Mason. Once on the stand, she detailed a life of physical and emotional abuse, and how frightened she was when confronted with questions about the murder in 1973, when she originally talked to police. While the crestfallen prosecutors looked on, she tearfully recanted her testimony, and explained why she had lied to police about the name, “Mason.”

She said that her father had always warned her about stopping in Mason, Michigan while driving from Detroit to Michigan State University, which she attended. According to her testimony (which was punctuated by crying jags), her father feared for her life because Mason was filled with racists with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. When police questioned her about Kumbi Salim’s friends, asking for a name, “Mason” just popped out of her mouth. Wiping away tears, she was now very very sorry for all the trouble she had caused an innocent man.

During deliberations, the other jurors bought it. “She’s credible,” they said, “Did you see how she cried?” It always makes me cringe to know that if a woman speaks emotionally, and especially if she cries, and more especially if she claims she is damaged, tender-hearted people tend to believe her.

One of the most challenging aspects of my persuasive argument for the defendant’s guilt involved this testimony. I asked everyone to review the tape of how the defendant smiled and visibly relaxed when he saw this witness enter the courtroom. Apparently, no one else had noticed this. Secondly, I pointed out that Mason Mi. was not a hotbed of racists in 1973, or even earlier, in 1940, when a popular kid named Malcolm Little excelled at Mason Junior High, even getting elected Class President, as detailed in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and celebrated in murals on the walls of the current high school there.

The introduction of facts turned what was “emotionally credible” testimony into a series of lies that we decided she told out of fear of retribution. I found out after the trial that her ex-husband was suspected of committing other murders, and likely had threatened her.

This is not meant to accuse Dr. Ford of lying, but her testimony, with its weird lack of corroborating evidence, especially in the face of the Kavanaugh calendar/diaries, is indistinguishable from an emotionally delivered, persuasive lie, making it not very valuable as evidence.

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  1. JosePluma Thatcher

    Exactly! If this can not be distinguished from a lie, and is allowed to carry the day, every other Republican will be assailed by “credible” liars.

    • #1
    • September 27, 2018, at 10:44 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous. That woman is obviously a hot mess, who knows why, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    • #2
    • September 27, 2018, at 10:44 PM PDT
    • 31 likes
  3. Melissa Praemonitus Member
    Melissa Praemonitus

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Exactly! If this can not be distinguished from a lie, and is allowed to carry the day, every other Republican will be assailed by “credible” liars.

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous. That woman is obviously a hot mess, who knows why, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    Yes, it’s an appalling standard the Democrats have been promoting for years – because they know Republicans would never weaponize it themselves. I think Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and historians will record that he won only because he was able to “prove” his innocence with his calendar diary; something the left could not have anticipated.

    • #3
    • September 27, 2018, at 11:02 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. RightAngles Member

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Exactly! If this can not be distinguished from a lie, and is allowed to carry the day, every other Republican will be assailed by “credible” liars.

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous. That woman is obviously a hot mess, who knows why, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    Yes, it’s an appalling standard the Democrats have been promoting for years – because they know Republicans would never weaponize it themselves. I think Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and historians will record that he won only because he was able to “prove” his innocence with his calendar diary; something the left could not have anticipated.

    I nearly died when I saw that calendar, because I did that too, all through high school. His looked so much like mine. (If anyone ever accuses me of something, I’m all set)

    • #4
    • September 27, 2018, at 11:11 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
  5. JosePluma Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I nearly died when I saw that calendar, because I did that too, all through high school. His looked so much like mine. (If anyone ever accuses me of something, I’m all set)

    I wasn’t near as together as you guys were in HS, so I don’t have one.

    However, this begs the question: What did Dr.* Blasey Ford’s calendar look like? I assume that whatever is written is unintelligible, with all the cigarette burns, vomit and beer stains. And she probably burned it the same time she eliminated her Facebook, Twitter and Tender accounts.

     

    *Not a medical doctor.

     

    • #5
    • September 27, 2018, at 11:35 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  6. Melissa Praemonitus Member
    Melissa Praemonitus

    When it became obvious I’d never rise to a position of power, I chucked all my collected notes, calendars and diaries from high school. Interesting wrinkle in the news today: https://www.dailywire.com/news/36377/judiciary-talking-man-who-thinks-he-forced-ryan-saavedra?utm_medium=email&utm_content=092718-news&utm_campaign=position1

    It would be quite the finish if one or both of these men were the actual perpetrators and could prove it to the poor Dr. Ford. I wonder if she would offer an apology to the Kavanaugh family? We all know the Democrats would not.

    • #6
    • September 28, 2018, at 12:11 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Blondie Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous. That woman is obviously a hot mess, who knows why, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    I have read a lot of comments over the last day regarding this hearing and there is at least one common theme: the women of Ricochet are not swayed by pure emotion. We see right through it and hate to see it used as a ploy. A strong lot we are. Don’t mess with Rico women!

    • #7
    • September 28, 2018, at 5:04 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  8. Stad Thatcher

    Melissa Praemonitus: This is not meant to accuse Dr. Ford of lying, but her testimony, with its weird lack of corroborating evidence, especially in the face of the Kavanaugh calendar/diaries, is indistinguishable from an emotionally delivered, persuasive lie, making it not very valuable as evidence.

    Throw that in with the timing of DiFi’s release of the information (at the last second after holding onto the info for weeks), the manner in which she released the info (first anonymous, then naming the latter writer), the political activism of Ford . . . this whole thing was an orchestrated, last-ditch effort to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court per the Dems playbook, which does include lying if necessary . . .

    • #8
    • September 28, 2018, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. Jason Obermeyer Member

    An important anecdote. 

    I only regret, that I have but one like to give for this post. 

    • #9
    • September 28, 2018, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Vectorman Thatcher

    Jason Obermeyer (View Comment):

    An important anecdote.

    I only regret, that I have but one like to give for this post.

    Here you go – copy this:

    • #10
    • September 28, 2018, at 7:24 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    Exactly! If this can not be distinguished from a lie, and is allowed to carry the day, every other Republican will be assailed by “credible” liars.

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous. That woman is obviously a hot mess, who knows why, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    Yes, it’s an appalling standard the Democrats have been promoting for years – because they know Republicans would never weaponize it themselves. I think Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and historians will record that he won only because he was able to “prove” his innocence with his calendar diary; something the left could not have anticipated.

    As I was coming back from grocery shopping for Shabbat, I saw a hand lettered sign on a telephone pole calling for Kavanagh’s impeachment and the removal of the sex offenders from the Supreme Court. This isn’t even the end of the beginning.

    • #11
    • September 28, 2018, at 2:31 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Since @garyrobbins has been doing divorces for decades, I’m sure he has lots of stories about emotional credibility.

    • #12
    • September 28, 2018, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous.

    Me too. I’d hate to be an innocent person on trial with a professional actress testifying against me. No facts needed, just tears.

    • #13
    • September 28, 2018, at 3:26 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  14. Stad Thatcher

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    and the removal of the sex offenders from the Supreme Court

    But not the Klansman?

    Oh, I forgot, Robert Byrd passed away . . .

    • #14
    • September 28, 2018, at 3:28 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  15. Sash Member

    I just read a comment online… that claimed Ford has family connections to Peter Storck… or his wife… through her brother… I think that is significant. If true, I don’t know anything myself, and there are always rumors of this or that.

    After her testimony I thought Kavanaugh was toast, although I am still doubtful that the level of what she claimed could cause that much damage. I’ve got my own stories I’m not going to bother with, but I sort of know about trauma… and that seemed pretty light weight.

    Then, I bawled when Kavanaugh testified. And I am convinced he is not guilty at all, and that it’s a smear campaign.

    Now I just read that, before 1996, what she described would not have been more than assault because she doesn’t say he touched her anywhere specific and that he just pawed at her clothes. So the holding her down, putting his hand over her mouth, was a simple assault at the time. The idea of rape was in her head, who knows what the young man thought he was doing. They apparently laughed their heads off. That isn’t very sexy.

    Back then… an encounter like that would not have been a sex crime at all, and it would have a statute of limitations of 1 year. NOT saying that is right, it’s just what I read.

    I disagree that those laws are right, but… it sort of confirms my thinking that it shouldn’t have caused so much damage.

    • #15
    • September 28, 2018, at 3:49 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Her credibility only extends to the fact that she appears to believe what she’s saying, not to whether or not it is true. All she demonstrated was that she was not knowingly lying about it. 

    • #16
    • September 28, 2018, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    After over thirty years in litigation I can say with confidence that men and women are no more honest or dishonest than each other; the worst liars can make the best witnesses and vice versa: and people from the higher social strata tend to presume that their evidence will be preferred to that of the “lower orders”. I’m not making any comment on the individuals caught up in this situation. 

    • #17
    • September 28, 2018, at 4:30 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  18. kedavis Member

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):

    When it became obvious I’d never rise to a position of power, I chucked all my collected notes, calendars and diaries from high school. Interesting wrinkle in the news today: https://www.dailywire.com/news/36377/judiciary-talking-man-who-thinks-he-forced-ryan-saavedra?utm_medium=email&utm_content=092718-news&utm_campaign=position1

    It would be quite the finish if one or both of these men were the actual perpetrators and could prove it to the poor Dr. Ford. I wonder if she would offer an apology to the Kavanaugh family? We all know the Democrats would not.

    I was wondering if we’d hear whether either of the two men I’ve heard about who think they might be the ones Ford is actually talking about, might have lived at the address Ed Whelan wrote about or maybe some other nearby home with a similar floor-plan…

    Another thought I had was, what if, for each “Accuser” the Left trots out, there’s a Man on the Right who steps up and says it was really them? “I don’t remember where or when it was, either, and heck I never even lived in the DC area. But, it was me.” I think that would be very pointed, and also hilarious.

    • #18
    • September 28, 2018, at 9:51 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  19. JosePluma Thatcher

    kedavis (View Comment):

    I was wondering if we’d hear whether either of the two men I’ve heard about who think they might be the ones Ford is actually talking about, might have lived at the address Ed Whelan wrote about or maybe some other nearby home with a similar floor-plan…

    Another thought I had was, what if, for each “Accuser” the Left trots out, there’s a Man on the Right who steps up and says it was really them? “I don’t remember where or when it was, either, and heck I never even lived in the DC area. But, it was me.” I think that would be very pointed, and also hilarious.

    I am Sparticus!

    • #19
    • September 29, 2018, at 2:09 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I felt nothing but irritation every time I heard someone say how credible Ford was, using the degree of emotion as their barometer. It’s ridiculous. That woman is obviously a hot mess, who knows why, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    Chatting with my Mom yesterday, she said the same thing, that she thought she was “credible”.

    Then I asked “Is Kavanaugh credible?”

    I received crickets.

    Then I decided not to bother pointing out how insane relying on one’s own interpretation of another person’s credibility, for uncorroborated charges, means any “credible” accusation results in someone going to jail. No need for the rest of the trial. Don’t call defense witnesses.

    Credibility wins the day.

    • #20
    • September 29, 2018, at 3:26 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. kedavis Member

    It might be educational, or at least entertaining – in a scary kind of way – for sons to ask their mothers if their mothers would automatically believe such accusations against their sons. Since, you know, accusations must be believed, and women cry and stuff so they’re credible… Many/most would (I hope) probably say something like “Of course not, I know you!” To which the response would be “Judge Kavanaugh’s parents and friends know him, too. The only difference is that he’s THEIR son, not yours.”

    I could ask my own mother, but I already know that she’s not very bright. (I once asked her, if she was trying to come up with a reason why murder is wrong, from scratch, independent of existing standards/laws etc., what would it be? Her answer: “Because it’s a sin.”)

    • #21
    • September 29, 2018, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. philo Member

    kedavis (View Comment): Since, you know, accusations must be believed, and women cry and stuff so they’re credible…

    This has me giggling right through the tears.

    • #22
    • September 29, 2018, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Lensman Thatcher
    Lensman Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Anyone experienced in litigation has to be frustrated with all the BS about Professor Ford’s credibility based on how she spoke. Anyone who has had to evaluate evidence eventually learns that what is said (the facts) is more important than how it is said. 

    Even if you use the wrong standard, Judge Kavanaugh’s demeanor was no less moving to the listener as hers. However her testimony was not subjected to the devastating cross examination that a good trial lawyer could do with her self serving gaps in memory. Her testimony was insufficient for any sort of warrant. It was not enough to recover damages in a civil case vs Kavanaugh for battery. Don’t forget she has no supporting evidence of any sort, physical or testimonial.

    The worst part of her story is that she never spoke of the alleged assault to her friends or anyone else until 20 years later. My bet is that she was attacked by someone she didn’t know and in retrospect she has filled in the blank with Kavanaugh’s name. Constructed false memories have been demonstrated in scientific experiments. Her testimony about trauma and memory was self-serving BS without scientific validity 

    • #23
    • September 29, 2018, at 7:35 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  24. toggle Inactive

    Lensman (View Comment):
    The worst part of her story is that she never spoke of the alleged assault to her friends or anyone else until 20 years later. My bet is that she was attacked by someone she didn’t know and in retrospect she has filled in the blank with Kavanaugh’s name.

    Maybe, but the more this sinks in, I give it as my fixed opinion that she’s cashing in on having been of high school age at roughly the same time and at one in proximity to his, yet whose social circles did not mix, and because his mother was involved in the foreclosure of her family’s home, she remembers the last name.

    • #24
    • September 29, 2018, at 8:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Ontheleftcoast Member

    kedavis (View Comment):
    It might be educational, or at least entertaining – in a scary kind of way – for sons to ask their mothers if their mothers would automatically believe such accusations against their sons. Since, you know, accusations must be believed, and women cry and stuff so they’re credible…

    My sister is a nurse and works, and works out, in predominantly (cis) female places. The mothers of sons are furious.

    • #25
    • September 29, 2018, at 9:03 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. kedavis Member

    Yes, it’s been pointed out elsewhere that parents – especially (under the circumstances) mothers – don’t only have daughters, they have sons too.

    What can mothers of sons tell mothers of (only?) daughters? “Your daughter’s unsubstantiated allegations cannot be permitted to destroy my (or any other mother’s) son’s life?”

    That might be what it will take, and a lot of them; but who will do it? Especially, who will do it FIRST?

    • #26
    • September 29, 2018, at 10:34 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. Ontheleftcoast Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Yes, it’s been pointed out elsewhere that parents – especially (under the circumstances) mothers – don’t only have daughters, they have sons too.

    What can mothers of sons tell mothers of (only?) daughters? “Your daughter’s unsubstantiated allegations cannot be permitted to destroy my (or any other mother’s) son’s life?”

    That might be what it will take, and a lot of them; but who will do it? Especially, who will do it FIRST?

    Cry “havoc” and let slip the dogs of war plaintiff’s bar.

    • #27
    • September 29, 2018, at 10:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. kedavis Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Yes, it’s been pointed out elsewhere that parents – especially (under the circumstances) mothers – don’t only have daughters, they have sons too.

    What can mothers of sons tell mothers of (only?) daughters? “Your daughter’s unsubstantiated allegations cannot be permitted to destroy my (or any other mother’s) son’s life?”

    That might be what it will take, and a lot of them; but who will do it? Especially, who will do it FIRST?

    Cry “havoc” and let slip the dogs of war plaintiff’s bar.

    As has also been mentioned already, the accusations and (lack of) evidence wouldn’t satisfy a civil lawsuit either.

    • #28
    • September 30, 2018, at 5:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. kedavis Member

    And regarding the “Emotional Credibility” in general, a woman like “Dr” Ford can cry and stuff, and becomes somehow more – or even automatically completely – credible. If Judge Kavanaugh did the same thing, he would be a wuss, a wimp… and even if he is totally innocent, a wuss/wimp should not be on the Supreme Court.

    Yet another double standard.

    • #29
    • September 30, 2018, at 5:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. kedavis Member

    I think it’s unfortunate that we end up describing the testimony of “Dr” Ford as “credible” or “believable.”

    Maybe there needs to be a different word used.

    Actors who are good enough to make a character “believable,” we still don’t believe they are actually the person they are portraying.

    What could be a good word to describe someone who might be very good at telling a story, but that doesn’t mean the story is true?

    Not “credible,” not “believable,” the implications of truth are not deserved.

    Maybe there’s an old word that has fallen out of use, that needs to be revived?

    • #30
    • September 30, 2018, at 5:55 AM PDT
    • 4 likes

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