October 02, 2018

Ford ‘Wasn’t Clear’ Committee Offered California Interview in lieu of Public Washington Hearing

Ford wanted to avoid “media circus” of public hearing, but was unaware of accommodations offered by the Committee to address her concerns

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford indicated that she had not been made aware of multiple offers made by Chairman Chuck Grassley to send staff to California to interview her, a format that she said she would have preferred.  Those offers were made in public statements and in statements directly to Dr. Ford’s attorneys in the days leading up to her public testimony.  Here’s a summary of those offers:
 
On three occasions, Grassley and Judiciary Committee staff told Dr. Ford’s lawyers that committee investigators were willing to come to her.
·       On September 19, Chairman Grassley sent a letter to Dr. Ford’s attorney Debra Katz informing her that committee staff “would still welcome the opportunity to speak with Dr. Ford at a time and place convenient to her.”
·       On September 21, committee staff sent an email to Ms. Katz saying that “[t]he Chairman has offered the ability for Dr. Ford to testify in an open session, a closed session, a public staff interview, and a private staff interview. The Chairman is even willing to fly female staff investigators to meet Dr. Ford and you in California, or anywhere else, to obtain Dr. Ford’s testimony.”
·       On September 22, committee staff again wrote an email to Dr. Ford’s lawyers, reminding them that “committee investigators are available to meet with Dr. Ford, anywhere and anytime, if she would prefer to provide her testimony outside of a hearing setting.
 
In a September 21 tweet, Grassley invited Dr. Ford to share her story, saying, “[c]ome to us or we to [you].”
 
However, despite those offers, at the September 27 hearing, Dr. Ford told the committee that she was not aware of the committee’s willingness to meet her anywhere to take her testimony.
·       Dr. Ford said, “I was hoping that they would come to me, but then I realized that was an unrealistic request.”
·       When Dr. Ford was asked if her attorneys had told her about the committee’s offer to meet her in California, her lawyers objected to her answering the question. She answered anyway, saying “I just appreciate that you did offer that. I wasn’t clear on what the offer was. If you were going to come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and had you—had been happy to speak with you out there. I just did not—it wasn’t clear to me that that was the case.”
 
Clearly, Dr. Ford’s attorneys did not tell her that we could protect her privacy and speak to her in California. The ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct require a lawyer to consult with his or her client about the means to be used to accomplish the client’s objectives—including informing the client of settlement offers. It is deeply unfortunate that Dr. Ford’s Democratic-activist lawyers appear to have used Dr. Ford in order to advance their own political agenda. A lot of pain and hardship could have been avoided had Dr. Ford’s attorneys informed her of the committee’s offer to meet her in California to receive her testimony.
 

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