Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Why Would She Lie?"

Yesterday I posted about Brian Banks.

You recall that Banks spent five years in prison for rape because a woman lied about consensual sexual activity.

To follow up, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has offered some interesting comments about the case and its implications.

Since the accuser, Wanetta Gibson received a civil damages reward of $1,500,000 for her lie, the question naturally arose: can she be forced to give it back. Are there claw-back rules in such cases?

Volokh comments:

I assume that — absent some statute of limitations barrier (a subject on which I’m not knowledgeable) — what’s left of the $1.5 million will indeed have to be paid back. 

Volokh continues to make an important legal point. Iff the accuser in a rape case stands to profit civilly for her testimony then her testimony will be less credible to a jury.

He writes:

I suspect that in a typical such case, one factor that cuts in the prosecution’s favor is “Why would she lie?” A defendant has ample reason to lie by saying that nonconsensual sex was actually consensual — his liberty is at stake. But a complainant in many cases has much less reason to lie by saying that consensual sex was actually nonconsensual; sure, in some situations there might be possible motivations for lying, but they are usually not nearly as strong as the defendant’s motivation.

Not only has Gibson robbed Brian Banks of years of his life and gamed the system, but she had made it harder, in general, to prosecute rape.

In Volokh’s words:

The jurors don’t know for sure who’s telling the truth. But once they know that the complainant has a potential motive to lie, they’ll be less inclined to believe her — and at least to conclude that there’s a reasonable doubt about whether she’s telling the truth. If you were a juror and the evidence against the defendant besides the complainant’s testimony was weak, wouldn’t you be influenced by evidence that the complainant has a possible financial motive for making up the charges?

What can be done? Volokh does not see a way to reform tort law to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

What to do about this, though, is not clear. Even if negligence liability against employers, school districts, and others for crimes by their employees or on their property is cut back — some people have argued that it should be — a victim could still sue a rich defendant, or even an upper-middle-class defendant who has some assets that could be seized. If someone physically attacks you, you’re entitled to get compensation from him. But this very possibility makes it harder to criminally prosecute rapists. I don’t know of a good solution to the problem, absent perfect lie detection technology …

For those of us who know less about the legal system, clawing back the entirety of the money Gibson received seems like a good place to start. If she spent the money, then take what she has left, confiscate her property, and garnish her wages until she has paid it all back.

Next, the legal profession should reconsider the statute of limitations on offering false testimony, lying to police officers, and conspiring to deprive a man of his freedom.

I am confident that our best legal minds will be able to find a way to dis-incentivize lying about rape.


Dennis said...

I am continually amazed that so many people, especially those who have lived a little bit, can still fall for women , as a rule, don't lie. Women lie as much as men do and for many of the same reasons.
Women lie:
1. Because they can and in most cases they won't be called on it
2. Because they want to avoid responsibility for their actions. Much better to blame someone else for your failures
3. Because they don't want their friends and families to learn of their indiscretions or other foibles
4. Because they have a reason to keep their boy friends, husbands and children in the dark
5. Because removing or degrading their competition gets them rewards
6. Because they just do not like someone and in many cases want to destroy them. Feminists are very prone to this and the misandry that comes from it
7. Because there is money, power or something to be gained.
One could go on for quite a while if one wants to be honest about it. Someone is going to have to explain, given centuries of examples, how we ever got to the point of believing women don't lie. Are they not human beings? Many will do what they have to to protect their own reputation and many will not care about those whose life they ruin to do it
How many fathers have been accused by their wives of things that did not happen in order to get control of the children? How many men have been released from jail after DNA evidence, the woman recants , et al.
I've known a lot of women in my life and guess what they were all human.

Dennis said...

It is one thing to pay great respect and honor those women who have been the wives and mothers that have made our lives worth living, but to create a legal house of cards built on the idea that women don't lie is pure folly .
Interesting that the old saw goes something like "A woman scorned.........' These old saws and much like Old Wives Tales have a basis in observed actions taken by people throughout the ages. What beside technology has really changed about people since we started keeping a history of the species? We make the same mistakes, but with better tools and technology available. We still kill large numbers of people, but with better technology that allows larger numbers at one time and we don't even have to experience the blood and gore up close.