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Statute of Limitations

Rich Galen

Monday September 17, 2018

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  • The Statute of Limitations is loosely defined by the FreeDictionary.com as
    "A type of federal or state law that restricts the time within which legal proceedings may be brought."

  • This became a topic of conversation over the weekend because the woman who made the anonymous charge that she had been sexually assaulted by Judge Brett Kavanaugh went public with new details of the event and has made her name available.

  • The alleged assault took place with both the woman and Kavanaugh were students at two different prep schools in Montgomery County, Maryland - a suburb of Washington, DC.

  • As you know I am not a lawyer and I won't get into a discussion about which - if any - of the statutes apply for a case in Maryland.

  • The Washington Post ran a long piece based upon the woman's memory which is (again, in a non-legal manner) that she was 15 and Kavanaugh was a senior - 18. She went to an all-girls' prep school, Kavanaugh to an all-boys' school.

  • They belonged to the same swim/country club and it came to pass that, after a day at the club, they ended up at a party in the home of one of their friends without the benefit of parents.

    NOTE: All the quoted material from here on out is from that WashPost story unless otherwise credited.

  • She says that Kavanaugh and a friend, "both stumbling drunk, corralled her into a bedroom" where the alleged assault took place. According to the Post article:

  • "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."

  • This took place in the "early 1980s," so some 35 years have gone by.

  • You can read for yourself her explanation as to why she didn't tell her parents, much less go to the police. I will also leave it to you whether her story, as recounted by Washington Post investigative reporter Emma Brown, rings true.

  • As this was not rape (for which there is no statute of limitations in Maryland) it appears a criminal complaint needed to have been filed within a year of the event. As a civil case, the 15-year-old woman (or her family) had seven years from her 18th birthday.

  • Had she been an adult at the time, a suit would have to be brought within three years.

  • The woman claims she has suffered long-term psychological damage from the alleged assault. She is
    "a professor at Palo Alto University who teaches in a consortium with Stanford University, training graduate students in clinical psychology. Her work has been widely published in academic journals."

  • So, if you are a Republican U.S. Senator, what do you do? Does the legal status of the Maryland Statute of Limitations give you the cover you might need to continue to support Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation to be a Supreme Court Justice?

  • Is an event that happened 35 years ago, at a high school party, that produced no physical damage enough to wreck Kavanaugh's confirmation process?

  • If you are asked, "What if that were your daughter?" How would you respond?

  • How will the six Republican women in the Senate - Susan Collins of Maine, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Deb Fisher of Nebraska, and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia - respond to this development?

  • This is not difficult for Democrats. They were never going to vote for Kavanaugh anyway, and they can't vote against him twice.

  • But, with a razor thin 51-49 majority in the Senate, it won't take many desertions for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) to call Donald Trump and ask that Brett Kavanaugh's nomination be, at a minimum suspended, and possibly withdrawn.

  • If McConnell and Trump think they still have enough votes on the floor of the Senate - remember they just have to get to 50-50 and then have VP Mike Pence break the tie - they might push forward.

  • If so, that will almost surely become a major campaign issue not just in races for the U.S. Senate this November but for every Republican candidate for every office in the land.

  • This is an important issue. Keep in mind: There is no statute of limitations on the career of a federal judge - nor for a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • They are lifetime appointments.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the definition of Statute of Limitations, to the Washington Post story, and to a discussion of Statutes of Limitations in Maryland.

    The Mullfoto is one of the very popular series of food truck graphics.

    -- END --

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