Here is the core of the affidavit in support of the Motion for Psychiatric Examination:
I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing. I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.
There is nothing in the affidavit about any sexual history of Shelton, and Clinton did not say that Shelton had falsely accused anyone of rape. She also did not say or suggest that Shelton had invited Taylor’s attack.
Naturally, Shelton was upset when she learned about the affidavit. This is what she told Josh Rogin she would say to Clinton if she had the opportunity:
You lied on me. . . . And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me?
A few general observations:
1. We are not always aware of how others perceive us. A colleague of mine who is not noted for a restrained courtroom style once asked a prosecution witness “Are you known as a big BS’er?” The prosecutor objected. The court sustained the objection, stating “He is probably the last person to know that.”
2. Being for women does not mean that you unquestioningly accept every statement made by a woman or a girl.
3. Taylor, according to Clinton’s account in Living History, claimed that Shelton had “made up her story.” Clinton did not believe this. However, her personal opinion in the matter was irrelevant to her responsibilities. Sometimes lawyers have to say to themselves “I have an opinion, but I could be wrong.”
Now, Shelton doesn’t believe anyone would have said those things about her. Therefore, Clinton must have made them up.
It’s not that simple.
In any case in which the accuser is known to the accused, defense counsel typically gets an earful from the defendant and his family and friends about the character of the accuser. (We know from the bail modification motion that Taylor had family in the area, and that some of them suffered financial hardship as a result of his incarceration.)
The things defense lawyers are told may be accurate, may have a grain of truth but reflect gross distortion, or may be made up out of whole cloth.
The terminology used to describe the past accusations could include accusations of far lesser transgressions than rape. It could include transgressions that were not sexual at all. It would not be limited to transgressions that came to the attention of law enforcement.
It could include accusations that were truthful but were not believed by whoever reported them to Clinton.
Clinton would have had to be out of her mind to fabricate the contents of the affidavit. In that circumstance, a report giving Shelton a clean bill of mental health would have grossly and unnecessarily embarrassed the defense. Clinton was not planning a career in criminal defense, and her potential professional and political base was the feminist movement. For a feminist a few years out of law school, the Taylor defense was a journey to the dark side.
Clinton’s credibility with Taylor would have been diminished had she brushed off the issues that were being raised about Shelton. Sometimes clients need to hear “I looked into that, and it didn’t help us any.” Clinton’s in-person consultation with the Brooklyn serology expert would also have enhanced her standing with Taylor.
Notwithstanding his initial denial of criminal conduct, she ultimately persuaded him to accept the plea offer even though it meant going back to jail. Somewhere along the line, there was a come-to-Jesus speech, undoubtedly made more effective by her diligence.
Signing off for now…