An American observer comments on French politics.
Two very interesting revelations here:1) He tried to get the girl at reception to come up for a drink in his room as soon as he arrived. I'd qualify that as lourdingue.2) He in fact didn't leave any cell phone behind. It turns out nothing was left in the room at all. But DSK thought he had forgotten his phone, so the police through the hotel concierge said they would deliver it to him. But rather than a phone, the police arrived met him at the Kennedy.
I just saw that Tristane Banon will not testify in NY against DSK. Perhaps DSK has settled with her with a gag clause on the advice of his counsel.
The whole thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder. 1. No Tristane Banon is very bad news for the prosecution. Tristane Banon’s story that DSK tried to forcibly rape her would have been fatal evidence against him and almost certainly admissible. She would simply have driven a stake through the heart of any defense DSK could possibly mount. In my view, she would have been an absolutely devastating witness for the prosecution. (What’s more, if the physical evidence turns out to be a bust, she would've been the only corroboration for the hotel maid). I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate how bad it will be for the prosecution if Tristane doesn’t testify. In theory, it might be possible to subpoena her under the Hague Convention with the assistance of a French court. My understanding is that what you’d get would be a video deposition in France under the supervision of a French judge. (I have never done this before and don't know anyone who used it to secure testimony from a live witness, so I don't really know if it's doable). I don’t believe there is a way to force her to travel to NY and testify. As a practical matter, trying to get useful testimony from a hostile witness on direct examination is a very bad idea. It's essentially the courtroom version of Russian roulette. (This also means that I wasted about four hours struggling with the articles about her and the interviews with her mother on the Libe and Rue 89 websites).I would also like to remind everyone that this trial will be taking place in a court of law and not on cable television or the newspapers. Unfortunately for the prosecution, French “attitudes” and culture won’t be on trial in NYC and therefore the things we have been talking about on those subjects will not be admissible. None of it. Neither will evidence about DSK’s “womanizing” or consensual sexual encounters. My belief is that only evidence of sexual encounters involving violence will be admitted. I don’t think the trial court will allow the prosecution to trash DSK as being a dirty old man with roving hands who therefore has a propensity for raping young women. I think only those encounters with women involving a threat of violence or actual force will be admitted. The only one we “knew” about was Tristane, if she doesn’t testify it’s really bad news for the prosecution. 2. The day’s only ray of sunshine for the prosecution is that the victim’s idiot PI lawyer seems to be keeping his mouth shut. Every time that fool lawyer opened his mouth it was to talk about how poor his client was and how desperately she needed money. I may have a dirtier mind than most people but I think we can all use our imaginations to visualize the many avenues of inquiry this presents to the defense. Maybe he had himself an epiphany or maybe somebody from the DA’s office helped him to see the light but either way, it’s good for the prosecution. The stream of interviews from the family seems to be drying up, so maybe the prosecutor sent somebody out there to ride herd on them too.
If the journalist says a source close to the prosecution says he was at the airport, can it be a "fake" to scare DSK's lawyers, or could it be they've got the airport's cctv's footage?
Mitch, I'm not sure how valuable a witness Banon would be. The alleged act is 10 years old, she didn't file charges, she has no corroboration, and the defense could use the video of her telling her story on cable TV five years ago to impugn her testimony, because she gives no sign of being traumatized and tells the story in a tone of amusement. This is no doubt quite unfair to her, but a skilled defense attorney could cut her to pieces with this video, I think. And then her reluctance to testify would only raise more doubts in the mind of the prosecution whether they should rely on her, to say nothing of how her somewhat inconsistent versions of the encounter might strike the jury.
@ Arthur Goldhammer,I think she would make a much better witness than you might think. The fact that she hasn’t filed a compliant arguably enhances rather than undermines her credibility. She isn’t in it for the money. She will be reluctantly confirming that DSK became violent and tried to force her to have sex with him. Something which she regarded as a private matter. And, in a manner of speaking, she does have some corroboration. She and the current victim will corroborate each other as they testify about the similarities between the two events. Under the circumstances, staying silent until being forced to go reluctantly go public enhances her credibility in my mind. We can establish a first report within a very short time of the incident and the fact of that report is independently corroborated. We may not approve of her reasons for staying silent but they don’t have any real bearing on her truthfulness. And, if she’s telling the truth, the defendant tried to rape her in a way which is strikingly similar to the way he’s alleged to have jumped on the hotel maid. That’s absolutely crucial to establishing the credibility of the current victim. (Which, after all, is the whole point of having Banon testify) Besides which, If I were the defense, I would tread lightly with her. You won’t get much credit for successfully trashing her. Slight inconsistencies are just that. And, above all else, a response along these lines would be simply devastating: “I followed my mother’s advice---she asked around and urged me to keep quiet because she’d learned that DSK had threatened to destroy several women he’d actually raped”. Cross examining her about her motives and inner thoughts at the time is just begging for every bit of the nastiest, most vile gossip about DSK to be paraded in front of the jury. Her reasons may not cast her in a particularly good light but it’s not one which is particularly flattering for DSK, either. The fact that she doesn’t seem traumatized is, I think, neither here nor there even if the defense could find a way to get it in front of the jury (which I don’t think they can). And the defense will need to be very careful of drawing a response like: “Well, I had quite of bit of time it get behind me. I was young and it was an awful experience because I was certain that he would rape me but I was lucky and got a way from him before he could do anything really bad. I've tried hard not to let it change me from the happy person I want to be. And besides, it isn’t like he dragged me into the bathroom and forced me to perform oral sex on him. That would've destroyed me. A woman’s never the same after being violated in that way. ” And then, to be honest, I doubt whether DSK will be able organize a jury consisting exclusively of women. There are bound to be some men on his jury. We’ve all seen her photographs and her video interviews. I would say that she has a certain vulnerable quality to her which is difficult to describe but which I think would make a destructive cross examination very dangerous proposition, especially in terms of it’s potential for violently alienating the men on the jury. There are certain impulses, both sexual and social, in the male of the species which would make going after her in the really nasty way that would be necessary to destroy her credibility a real tightrope act and without a net, too.
@ Arthur Goldhammer,I think she would make an excellent witness. She is personable, she speaks well and she is very pretty. Slight discrepancies are just that---slight discrepancies. Her reasons for staying silent don’t have any real bearing on her truthfulness. She obviously isn’t in it for the money and therefore she has no reason to lie about what she says DSK did to her. And, in a manner of speaking, she does have some corroboration. She and the current victim will corroborate each other as they testify about the similarities between the two events. Besides which, the defense will need to tread lightly in questioning her, and especially about why she didn't report the incident to the police, for fear of drawing a response such as: “I followed my mother’s advice---she asked around and urged me to keep quiet because she’d learned that DSK had threatened to destroy several women he’d actually raped”. Her reasons for not reporting him to the authorities may not cast her in a particularly good light but it’s one that is not particularly flattering for DSK, either. The fact that she doesn’t seem traumatized is, I think, neither here nor there even if she can be questioned on that point, which I doubt. Again, the defense will need to be very careful of drawing a response like: “I guess it’s like a near miss on the freeway. It’s scary and you’re shaky for a time but you eventually more or less get over it. When DSK attacked me, I was young and it was a an awful experience at the time because I was certain that he would rape me but I was lucky and got a way from him before he could do anything really bad. Sort of like a near miss, so to speak. And besides, it isn’t like he was able to drag me into the bathroom and make me perform oral sex on him. A woman’s never the same after being violated in that way.” Crossing examining her about her motives and inner thoughts at the time is just begging for every bit of the most vile gossip about DSK to be paraded in front of the jury. And then, to be honest, I doubt whether DSK will be able organize a jury consisting exclusively of women. There are bound to be some men on his jury, the prosecutor will see to that. We’ve all seen her photographs and her video interviews. I would say that she has a certain air of vulnerability that I think would make a destructive cross examination very dangerous. There are certain impulses, both sexual and social, in the male of the species that would make going after her tooth and nail a real tightrope act for the defense
@ Anonymous,It might have made a difference under the original timeline but once they decided to move the time of the alleged attack up to noon to from 1 p.m., the question of where DSK went from 12:30 (when the police say he left the hotel) onward is no longer important. The prosecution and police seem to be struggling to reconcile the timeline with some of the facts that can be independently verified but, I think, at this point they’re basically stuck with 12:00 and are going to try and figure out a way for the attack to have happened then and for DSK to have had time to put his pants back on in time to be in the cab at 12:30, the latest. I also noticed that the police have stopped leaking/crowing about the wonderful electronic locks so it could be that things aren’t going well in that department, either.But, if anything, the new theory about his having taken a cab directly from the hotel to the works to his benefit because it means that they can’t ever go back to the 1 p.m time for the attack and try to make it work by attacking the witnesses’ credibility ("are you sure about the time", wait-staff could have been bought off, reservation book doctored, his daughter is, well, his daughter). But if he went in a taxi directly to JFK and then was seen by Air France staff and/or on surveillance cameras with timestamps, his alibi for anytime after 12:30 is totally bulletproof. So I doubt DSK’s lawyers are worried about this.
I see the timeline discrepancy as interesting. He said he couldn't possibly have raped the woman because he left calmly and had lunch with his daughter. Something we're often told in France is that certainly he wouldn't have met his daughter for lunch if he'd committed a crime. (Personally, I think the lunch doesn't mean anything; he could have gone and been agitated, something his daughter wouldn't tell; he could have made it up to mess up the timeline; he could have gone and been calm, because it hadn't occured to him that what he'd done would be considered wrong and that he was at any risk...)Still, what he did after the alleged assault matters, as it's supposed to establish flight: did he run to the airport or did he calmly go to a restaurant for a nice lunch with his daughter?If he ran to the airport and skipped the lunch, or if he ran to the airport and made up the lunch to cover it up, it does establish that he's a flight risk AND that he knew he'd done something he shouldn't have.
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