I have been following the prep school rape trial involving Owen Labrie. Mr. Labrie stands accused of raping a 15 year-old girl as part of a ritual known as Senior Salute at St Paul’s School. Mr. Labrie claims he had consensual sexual contact with the accuser but denies having sexual intercourse. The accuser claims she twice told Mr. Labrie “no” but he persisted and ultimately raped her.
Throughout the trial, and especially in closing arguments, the credibility of the accused and accuser were front and center. While there was some other evidence including texts, Facebook messages, lists of girls Mr. Labrie was pursuing, etc., the reality is, like so many cases, this trial is largely a “he said” v. “she said”. In litigation, as in life, there are some key things you can do to maintain your credibility. So here are 5 crediblity boosters for life and litgation.
- Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For instance, Mr. Labrie has testified under oath he did not have sex with the accuser but he told friends he did. He now says he told his friends that to make himself look cooler. As tempting as it can be some times to tell a lie to seem cool, avoid blame or a confrontation, etc., don’t do it. Even little white lies that seem inconsequential in the moment can come back to burn you especially in the hands of an adversary.
- Adjust your attitude. Arrogant, impatient, rude people are often remembered for all the wrong reasons. If you have been rude to the trooper investigating your accident, the clerk who witnessed your fall, or the medical personnel rendering you treatment, etc., your prior bad attitude could make them a hostile witness. Likewise, jurors (and most people for that matter) tend to believe the person they like and no one likes a person with an attitude.
- Conduct yourself like your mama is watching. I seriously doubt Mr. Labrie would have been keeping lists of women he wanted to “slay” and tracking and bragging about his conquests if he thought his mother would find out. So act like your mama is watching; you are far less likely to get in trouble that way. And in today’s media age, someone probably is watching. (And your mama may end up seeing it all played out in a courtroom.)
- What happens on social media tends to stay on social media. Assume everything you ever put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. will be there into infinity. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t post mean-spirited things. Don’t be a bully. While most judges will give instructions to jurors to not investigate the case or the parties, unfortunately many jurors do not heed this instruction. If a juror (or a potential employer, in-law, roommate) does research you, by following this rule, you can ensure there is nothing there that will embarrass you or anger them. And if you do try to delete them, that may look just as bad. Mr. Labrie deleted over a hundred messages from his Facebook account and it became a focus of the prosecutor’s closing argument.
- Do the hard thing. Whether it is stopping a friend from drinking and driving, delaying a big project because of a safety concern, reporting criminal conduct, whatever it is, do the hard thing. You will often find it is easier and less scary than you thought.
Mr. Labrie will learn his fate soon enough. Regardless of the jury’s decision, we can only hope he and others will learn some valuable lessons about the keys to credibility.
As always, if you have been injured in an accident and would like to discuss your legal options with one of our award-winning lawyers, simply give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Brentwood) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free). We handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win.