Friday, November 4, 2016

Clinton unfairly maligned regarding her defense of a man accused of rape

Hillary Clinton once defended an accused rapist when she was a public defender. Clinton eventually had him plead to a lesser offense. See here.

Throughout this campaign, pro-Trump supporters have been saying that the accused was, in fact, a rapist, that Clinton knew he was a rapist, and that Clinton laughed about the "rapist's" twelve-year-old alleged victim.

Clinton is being unfairly maligned in this instance.

First, the suggestion that a criminal defendant is not worthy of a defense just because he was accused of rape is repulsive. Sometimes--more often than most people would like to think--men and boys accused of rape are innocent. If you need examples, spend a few weeks rummaging through this blog. You can start here and here.

Second, Clinton later gave an interview where she said: "Of course he claimed he didn’t. All this stuff. He took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs. [laughs]" See here: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/clintons-1975-rape-case/

Clinton wasn't laughing at the alleged victim. Nor was she suggesting that the man was not entitled to a defense. Her attitude was similar to one I've encountered many times from certain members of the bar: when some attorneys recount the cases they've handled, you'd think they were Clarence Darrow--invariably, the attorney was brilliant and clever, and if the outcome was at all favorable, it was obtained against all odds and was far better than the client deserved. Generally, the more esteemed the trial attorney, the less braggadocio you will hear. But you will rarely hear this from any attorney, "Wow, did I foul up that case--I was really lucky to get the result I got."

Third, the man pled to a lesser offense, something that happens all too often even when the man happens to be innocent. See here. I have no idea if this particular defendant was innocent, but plea bargains are scarcely iron-clad barometers of the truth. It would be helpful if we stopped buying into this notion that the man had to be guilty just because he was charged.

We are stranded in a political culture where, when it comes to college men accused of rape, hostility to due process is the norm. No longer is this hostility limited to law-and-order types--the "progressives" on the left have taken this hostility to new, chilling, levels. We fear that if the Democrats are elected next Tuesday, the Obama administration's hostility will continue. It is unfortunate that some on the right feel the need to score points any way they can--even by suggesting it was somehow wrong to defend a man accused of rape and by assuming that the accused had to be guilty merely because he was accused.