Tuesday, January 31, 2023

#31 / Backing Up Our Assertions


That is Kari Lake, pictured. You may remember having heard about her. She ran for Governor of Arizona, and she lost. Nonetheless, modelling her behavior on the conduct of our former president, Donald Trump, Lake claimed that she had won.
This claim made her, at least in some circles, a figure of fun. The picture I have used, above, comes from one of Andy Borowitz' "Not The News" columns in The New Yorker. It was headlined, "Kari Lake Claims Victory in Georgia Runoff." Remember, Lake actually ran for Governor of Arizona!
A good joke can always be repeated, with certain modifications to disguise the fact that it is, actually, the same joke. Here's another Kari Lake picture, again from one of Andy Borowitz' commentaries. This picture was titled, "Kari Lake Flips Out at 7-Eleven After Buying Losing Lottery Ticket."

On December 27th of last year, I read about Kari Lake in The Wall Street Journal. Because she claimed that she had won (although she hadn't), Lake brought a lawsuit alleging election misconduct. The article I read was titled, "Lake's Suit Over Vote In Arizona Dismissed." That is the hard copy title. Online, which is where the following link will take you, The Journal article was headlined this way: "Kari Lake’s Claims of Election Misconduct Rejected by Arizona Judge."
Here is how The Wall Street Journal reported on what Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson had to say about Lake's lawsuit:
Every witness brought before the court “was asked about any personal knowledge of both intentional misconduct and intentional misconduct directed to impact the 2022 General Election. Every single witness before the Court disclaimed any personal knowledge of such misconduct,” Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson wrote in the ruling."
One of the great things about our legal system is that anyone can bring a lawsuit that will require a judge, as a neutral party, to review a claim that the person bringing the lawsuit has, in some way, been wronged. Bringing the lawsuit, though, is only step one. The key to winning such a lawsuit is to be able to bring into court evidence demonstrating that such a wrong did, in fact, occur. In other words, you have to back up your assertions with facts, when you go into court. 

Lake (and our former president) have apparently not quite grasped this key concept. When you make a claim in court (and otherwise, actually) you have to support your claim with some type of reliable proof. I am quite aware of this principle in a somewhat different context.
I teach courses in the Legal Studies Program at UCSC. Specifically, I teach a "Senior Capstone" course, LGST 196, and every student majoring in Legal Studies has to pass this course, in order to receive a B.A. in Legal Studies. The main course requirement is that students have to write a compelling thesis, of about twenty pages or so, on some topic relating to the law.
I provide guidance to my students in the form of a "Memo on Thesis Submission," which is fourteen pages long, and includes thirty-six numbered paragraphs of advice. Paragraph #9 is pertinent to the Kari Lake case: 
When making assertions (particularly controversial ones), you should reference an authority that supports the statement, and/or provide an example or examples, or support your statement with a well-reasoned argument, so that the statement doesn’t come across as an unsupported personal opinion. 
This principle applies in any legal proceeding. It also applies, generally, in almost everything we do - and certainly in what we write. 

If we don't have the facts to back up our assertions, then we shouldn't be making those assertions in the first place.
Image Credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!