Let's start with the facts as stated by the accuser, which I will take as being true ad argumentum:
According to the Post, Ford described how Kavanaugh and a friend – both “stumbling drunk” – corralled her into a bedroom at a house in Montgomery county, Maryland.Aside from the fact that Kavanaugh was under the age of majority, which leads to questions about criminal responsibility in this matter. Various issues regarding juvenile justice had there been an adjudication of delinquency and its ability to be used in this matter. There wasn't any sort of formal process in this matter, which is another problem.
The Post reported: “While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.”
Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California, told the Post: “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”
She added: “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Next, Maryland changed its laws regarding rape in 2017, this incident occurred in the early 1980s. Should Maryland apply the law in effect when this incident occurred or would that make Maryland's current rape statute an ex post facto law, and unconstitutional? Toss in Maryland rape laws require actual penetration, which there wasn't according to the above statement. This might be a fourth degree Sexual Offense (MD code 3-308), but I am not sure there would be proof if I were trying to prosecute the case. It would definitely be some kind of assault (unlawful touching). I would make an offer for assault if I were a prosecutor in this case.
Unlawful sexual contact is one of the most commonly charged sex crimes in Maryland. There are two basic elements to this crime — sexual contact and lack of consent. Under Maryland law, sexual contact includes touching the genitals or some other intimate area, which is often interpreted to include the buttocks and the female breasts. If an individual’s hand, body part or extension of a hand touches a person in any of these areas, that may be classified as sexual contact.
The law is unclear whether the contact needs to be direct to those parts or whether one could make sexual contact with a clothed person. I am of the opinion that the statute requires direct contact. This would be a question of law. But the rape sections of Maryland law require actual penetration.
Saying this is assault is more serious due to the fear of harm or actual harm being inflicted on the victim even if this is not a sexual offence in my opinion. But I do not see any of the specific penetration or other element that would cause this to rise to the level of being specifically a sex crime.
The statute of limitations applies in this case since it wasn't any form of rape because there was no penetration. There is a one year statute of limitations for fourth degree sexual offences (Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-106; In re Anthony R., 362 Md. 51, 73, 763 A.2d 136, 148 ) if one wants to continue with an allegation of criminal sexual conduct that might stick.
Maryland does not have a statute of limitation on assault according to Lawrence Tribe (however Maryland lawyers say it is one year. Remember we need to use the law that was in effect when the crime was committed), but the next question if there is no limit to prosecution would be which court would have jurisdiction: juvenile or adult? Again, even if one wants to say that there is no statute of limitation on this case, then does this issue of criminal responsibility based upon age come into the play. After all, the alleged incident happened when Kavanaugh was a juvenile according to the law.
Sorry Prof. Tribe, but Maryland's juvenile act would have been the proper standard to have been used at this time: not adult law. Something about ex post facto laws being an issue, which is a mistake that a noted Constitutional law prof should not be making. Especially since competence to stand trial is a constitutional issue.
That means there would be a statute of limitation based on Maryland's Juvenile Act due to this? The real issue isn't as much a statute of limitations as it is that this incident occurred when Kavanaugh was a juvenile. Juvenile court can retain jurisdiction over youth until age 21, provided that the offense alleged to have been committed occurred before the youth turned 18. (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-8A-01(d) and Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-8A-07(a), (b))
One of reason for statutes of limitation is the fairness of the prosecution in regard to finding evidence, witnesses, and so on. That is important given this would be and 35+ year old allegation. Can she offer proof which would go beyond a reasonable doubt?
Mark Judge, the alleged partner to this, does not remember the event ever happening. So, we have evidentiary problems.
Also, this is one incident. I would be hesitant to use an isolated incident this old as an indicator of Kavanaugh's personality. I would be less hesitant if there were incidents which were more recent to show he has not changed.
Bottom line, there are Constitutional due process issues a plenty here which make this line of attack highly problematic for me. I would have hoped that a judge with a staff would have enumerated them, but he has failed to address this highly important issue.
I feel sorry for the accuser, but legally this shouldn't see the light of day given the length of time from the incident to any public accusation. She wouldn't get a day in court based upon the facts, yet this has shown up in the political arena for whatever reason.
I doubt there is a person who hasn't committed a crime whether intentionally or unintentionally which may or may not have been prosecuted. Likewise, there are defences and mitigations to crimes which must be taken into account. Not to mention constitutionality of this. These matters need to be considered by Kavanaugh's accusers.
Even more importantly, I see the facts of this case being twisted into partisan fodder to try and thwart the confirmation of someone who doesn't have the legal acumen of a first year law student. The lack of legal knowledge to provide a defence to this, especially from a judge with a staff, is troubling to me.
As I said before, this accusation demonstrates that Brett Kavanaugh is not worthy of a seat on the highest court because he lacks a basic knowledge of the law, of which this an exposition. I could probably come up with far more constitutional and criminal defences to this accusation, but that would be more nails in the coffin to his lack of basic legal knowledge.