More Observations about the Kavanaugh Hearing

Yesterday, Jen wrote an insightful post analyzing Judge Kavanaugh’s problematic apology to Senator Klobuchar.  Interestingly, he committed the same offense with Senator Whitehouse – arrogantly responding to a question about his drinking by asking the senator about his drinking – but didn’t apologize to him.

This post provides a few more observations about this remarkable public spectacle.

I was particularly struck by the questioning by Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor who the Senate Republicans hired to do some of the examination.  I won’t address the controversies that about the appropriateness of using her at all and the level of partisanship of her questioning.

I was struck by the fact that Ms. Mitchell prefaced her questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford with a sincere acknowledgment of her horrible and painful experience.  I thought that Ms. Mitchell’s tone and content provided a good model for lawyers and law students.

Ms. Mitchell also pointed out that asking questions in public in alternating five-minute periods was a really bad way to elicit information.

The lack of a preliminary investigation was obvious as the questioning seemed more like a deposition than testimony at a trial or hearing.  It illustrated the logic of the principle that one shouldn’t ask a question that you don’t know the answer to.

The hearing also provided many fascinating opportunities to evaluate the credibility (and lack thereof) of the witnesses.   Facts and evidence are extremely important in legal dispute resolution processes and this was a useful demonstration about how they may be elicited and interpreted.

The most surprising and dramatic events occurred on Friday, when Senator Flake negotiated for a supplemental FBI investigation to look into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.  This followed the remarkable confrontation by two survivors of sexual assault, with such powerful emotion.  It seemed as if Senator Flake didn’t really listen or hear until they demanded that he look at them and listen to them.

The negotiation leading to his agreement with Senator Coons was attributed to Senator Flake really listening to Senator Coons – and the fact that they have a close relationship as friends.  Given the intense and increasing partisanship, it is hard to imagine that this negotiation would have occurred if the two senators weren’t personal friends.

These are just a few of many possible observations about the amazing events of the past two days.

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