Legally Speaking: Arizona prosecutor has right tools for Kavanaugh hearing

Sep 26, 2018, 5:42 AM | Updated: 12:59 pm
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh has traveled a difficult road since he was nominated by President Donald Trump in early July and it is about to get even more so on Thursday.

That is the day both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about allegations of sexual assault that occurred when he was in high school.

With testimony comes questions and one of Maricopa’s own deputy county attorneys, Rachel Mitchell, will be the one asking the questions.

Mitchell is a career prosecutor and has a plethora of experience when it comes to sex crimes cases and trials. She is division chief for the office’s Special Victims Division.

Sex crimes cases are extremely difficult because it is often a he-said-she-said situation with little to no physical evidence. There are two sides to every story and the truth typically falls somewhere in between.

Sometimes that isn’t enough to secure convictions. Prosecutors have to know how to effectively ask questions to obtain information that is sensitive, traumatizing and embarrassing. It takes skill, knowledge and experience to question recalcitrant victims, scared children, confused victims and hostile defendants.

I have to admit that I am surprised the GOP had the foresight to employ an experienced trial attorney to ask the sensitive and complicated questions at the hearing.

It seems that politicians, especially those who are lawyers, are all too ready to try to prove they know more about the law and how to get to the truth than an experienced litigator.

In my opinion, this move shows that the allegations are being taken very seriously — and the GOP wants to get to the truth.

They could have asked many litigators to take the reins but they knew the seriousness of and the complexities of the sexual assault allegations made by Ford and chose to have an experienced sex crimes trial attorney do what they cannot.

But even with her experience, Mitchell has her work cut out for her.

Kavanaugh is an experienced judge and speaker. He knows how to say the right things and not implicate himself. His accuser is an educated woman who has has put herself in the spotlight and will likely be hesitant to give too many details.

In addition, Ford might not know the right things to say or how to say them.

There are no known witnesses, evidence, videos, pictures or reports of what is alleged. It will be Mitchell’s job to ask the questions necessary to get the answers that the senators need in order to vote Friday on Kavanaugh’s future.

According to CNN, both witnesses will face five minutes of questioning from each senator on the panel or Mitchell if the senators choose to yield their time.

The hearing will no doubt contain its share of political theater and drama, but we should be proud that trust was put into one of Arizona’s own to try to keep the hearing on the right path, the path to the truth.

Monica Lindstrom

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Legally Speaking: Arizona prosecutor has right tools for Kavanaugh hearing