Kavanaugh Once Wrote in Favor of Polygraphs. Now He Says They're Unreliable

By Crespo, Andrew Manuel | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 3, 2018 | Go to article overview

Kavanaugh Once Wrote in Favor of Polygraphs. Now He Says They're Unreliable


Crespo, Andrew Manuel, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Two years ago, a federal court of appeals held that polygraph tests are "an important law enforcement tool" that can help investigators "test the credibility of witnesses" and "screen applicants" for "critical" government positions. The judge who wrote that opinion: Brett Kavanaugh.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Kavanaugh whether he would be willing to take a polygraph test regarding the multiple sexual assault allegations he faces as he seeks a seat on the Supreme Court. Considering such a request himself, Kavanaugh departed from his prior judicial opinion and told the Senate that polygraphs are "not reliable." But still, when pressed by Sen. Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., about taking one, Kavanaugh ultimately said, "I'll do whatever the committee wants."

The committee has now asked the FBI to investigate the allegations. As part of that investigation, Kavanaugh should heed his own words and agree to undergo a polygraph test administered by the FBI, which could shed substantial light on the accusations he faces.

As President Donald Trump has acknowledged, those allegations are supported by "credible" and "compelling" evidence, presented to the Senate last week by Christine Blasey Ford. The president is right about Ford's testimony. I have represented multiple people accused of sexual assault. Some of them, I believe, were falsely accused. Others, I believe, were guilty. But Ford was as credible and compelling a witness as I have seen.

In a criminal trial, a jury could lawfully return a guilty verdict based on testimony such as hers, even without further corroboration. Indeed, many people are in prison today based solely on the credible and compelling testimony of sexual assault survivors.

Ford's account, moreover, bears many of the essential hallmarks that prosecutors look for when determining whether to file criminal charges against an alleged assailant. She has vivid, detailed memories of the central event. She also describes inconvenient details that someone fabricating the assault would likely omit -- including her claim that Kavanaugh's close friend Mark Judge is a witness who can confirm or dispute her account. And, importantly, she told multiple people about the assault several years ago, long before Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee.

She also took a polygraph test, administered by a retired FBI agent, which showed no signs of deception in her claim that she was sexually assaulted and that Kavanaugh was the person who attacked her. To be sure, polygraphs, like many investigative tools, are not perfect. They can sometimes produce false results, particularly if the person being tested has been trained to evade them. …

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