Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DSK seeks diplomatic immunity from civil action; Diallo already has de facto immunity from a counterclaim because she is judgment proof

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has filed a motion claiming diplomatic immunity in the civil suit filed against him filed by Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who accused him of raping her in Room 2806 of the Sofitel Hotel on May 14, 2011.

The legal merits of DSK's motion are beyond the scope of this post. Regardless of its merit, those who have already assumed his guilt will, undoubtedly, find this legal maneuver to be an outrageous attempt by a privileged white male to further deny a wronged minority woman of justice.

Even though this blog gives voice to the wrongly accused, we have been careful not to pretend or assume we know what happened in Room 2806.  When feminist icon Susan Brownmiller bizarrely declared that she "believe[d]" Ms. Diallo (because, she exclaimed, "[r]ape victims remember some facts vividly, but often get confused about exact timelines" -- as if that furnishes sufficient basis to reach that conclusion), we expressed our dismay about rushing to judgment.

Subsequently, the most compelling, and credible, assessment of the case was posited by the Manhattan district attorney's recommendation to dismiss the charges against Diallo. That recommendation noted that Diallo was "persistently" and "inexplicably" untruthful to prosecutors about important matters. Prosecutors initially found Diallo to be a perfect witness, sympathetic in every way. Over time, her repeated lies eventually had prosecutors questioning her credibility on a very fundamental level. We detailed the DA's recommendation here.

While the district attorney's evaluation was made in the context of charges that had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a fair-minded assessment of the information released by the district attorney suggests the very real possibility, if not likelihood, that Diallo's claim was a lie. Credibility is important not just in criminal matters, but in civil matters, too.  "Liars lose," a sage attorney once told me many years ago.  While it is impossible to assign a percentage to express the likelihood that the claim was either true or false, in light of Diallo's credibility problems, a civil case filed by either Diallo or DSK could go either way.

While DSK is seeking diplomatic immunity from suit, Diallo has achieved de facto immunity from a civil suit (e.g., a counterclaim) because she is judgment proof, and because DSK has far more to lose by filing suit.

Just as most rapists come from lower socioeconomic classes and are under-educated, under-employed, and under-skilled, the typical false rape accuser is not a woman of wealth.