The brash lawyer who won NBA player Derrick Rose’s rape trial

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Mark Baute prides himself on breaking a witness and drew criticism for a trial some say slut-shamed a woman. But he stands by his combative approach

As a trial lawyer, Mark Baute takes pride in being able to break a witness within three minutes, even if its a weeping young woman accusing three men of rape.

The combative attorney did so while defending the NBA star Derrick Rose in a high-stakes trial in Los Angeles that ended this week in victory for his client.

How do you break a witness? Baute said in an interview on Friday, reflecting on his win. Its preparation, understanding people, and eye contact. Some witnesses show up ready to lie and they need to be shown in the first three minutes that theyll be exposed.

Some critics said the two-week civil trial exposed other things: ruthless slut shaming of the accuser; a jury in thrall to celebrity; a judicial system that intimidates alleged sex assault victims.

Baute, 55, vehemently rejected all that. The 30-year-old accuser, he said, concocted a bullshit story that she told through tearful testimony to try to extort a fortune from the New York Knicks point guard.

Crocodile tears. Pretty easy to fake if youre looking for 20m bucks. I had the same reaction as many jurors the tears looked choreographed.

In his closing argument to the jury Baute said the accuser, known as Jane Doe to shield her identity, had welcomed her alleged assailants into bed with open arms and open legs. That and other comments by the defense team, including a request to the judge to stop Doe sobbing on the stand, appalled some observers.

But on Wednesday the jury of six women and two men cleared Rose and his co-defendants, Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen, of all liabilities. Outside the federal court jury members smiled and posed for pictures with the athlete and Baute.

The system worked, said the lawyer. We picked the smartest jury we possibly could because we believed the plaintiff would act on the stand. Smart jurors can see past the tears.

Does lawyers, in contrast, said that underhand tactics prevailed. They accused Bautes team of stripping her of her anonymity and smearing her by claiming she had no legitimate fear of shame because photos from her Instagram account were sexual in nature. I think its a shame for this country that a celebrity can come to court and slut-shame a woman, Waukeen McCoy, an attorney for Doe, told reporters after the verdict.

Baute said using Does real identity was necessary for a fair, transparent trial but that her anonymity endured, with mainstream media still using the pseudonym. He denied slut-shaming or criticizing her choices on the disputed night. We were respectful of her.

The trial channeled issues of sex, consent, race and fame in the wake of outcries over Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, who are accused of getting away with sexual assault and misconduct, and Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, who served just three months for a campus sexual assault.

Baute bristled at any suggestion Rose, the youngest player to win the NBAs Most Valuable Player award, belonged in that category. If there were victims, he said, it was Rose and his co-defendants, young black men targeted by a gold-digger and then traduced by biased media coverage.

Every member of our team picked up on the anti-black coverage. In cases of rape and black men the white media can no longer function in an objective way.

Derrick
Derrick Rose arrives at federal court in Los Angeles. Photograph: Nick Ut/AP

Doe and Rose had dated on and off for two years before the alleged assault. On the night of 26 August 2013 Doe and a female friend visited Roses rented Beverly Hills home. Doe became inebriated and took a taxi back to her apartment. Hours later Rose, Hampton and Allen entered her apartment, took turns having sex with her and left.

The case hinged on whether Doe was too incapacitated to give consent. In the absence of physical evidence Doe waited two years to report the alleged assault it boiled down to her word against the defendants and interpretation of text messages she exchanged with Rose.

With a criminal investigation by the LAPD remaining open, Doe sought $21.5m damages in a civil lawsuit, which alleged she was drugged and that the men committed trespass, battery and sexual battery.

It was a lie, a hoax, said Baute, speaking over breakfast in Malibu, where he has a home. She wanted money and she was angry that she had been dumped. Rose had apparently ended their relationship several weeks before the disputed night.

The drugging accusation was fabricated and the sex at her apartment was consensual, he said. He described it as just four people in their 20s having a fun night.

Baute who surfs, plays basketball and sports cropped grey hair acknowledges being abrasive; the only way to survive decades of gunslinging in downtown LA courtrooms, he said.

He conceded, however, that his colleague Michael Monico, who represented Hampton and Allen, should not have asked Judge Michael Fitzgerald to order Doe to stop crying.

Baute also said Does tears may have been partly genuine. Possibly from regret from having had intercourse that night. You also see it when someones case starts crumbling. It can create certain emotions.

After the verdict jurors told reporters Doe lacked credibility. I felt like she was playing us, said one. I think most of us believe its possible there are pieces of her story that were true, but there just wasnt any evidence, said another.

Social media bristled at images of jurors posing with Rose after the verdict but Baute said they were not wowed by the athletes fame. Theres a myth that LA courts show favouritism to celebrities. Theres actually a bias against them many jurors believe celebrities dont behave properly.

The great exception, OJ Simpson, beat a murder rap because of spectacularly inept prosecutors, Baute said.

He was even more scornful about Does two lawyers, calling McCoy shambolic and accusing Brandon Anand of developing a co-dependent bond with Doe. Bautes court filings said the alleged victim had social interactions with Mr Anand, including getting high together.

Dan Werly (@WerlySportsLaw)

Whoa, Derrick Rose’s lawyer accuses Doe’s attorney of “getting high” with his client.

This is war. pic.twitter.com/XOa0Ezvxbn

September 4, 2016

Does case further suffered, said Baute, from having churned through seven different lawyers.

McCoy and Anand did not respond to interview requests in response to these claims.

Baute expressed sympathy for real sexual assault victims. As a prosecutor in Seattle his mother tried rape cases, and his wife served on the advisory board of LAs Rape Treatment Center. Probably only a tiny proportion of sexual assault claims were fake, he said. He believes the WHO estimate that one in three women experience sexual or physical violence. Brock Turners three-month sentence, he added, was a disgrace.

The strain of defending Rose left him drained and 10lb lighter by the end youre pretty beat up but he had no regrets. When you go to battle for someone they become like family.

Brash advocacy can create dangerous enemies. In December 2009 a gunman shot dead his legal partner, Jeffrey Tidus. A professional hit linked to litigation, said Baute. No one has been charged. Baute hired bodyguards for a time, now does his own security. Ive taken weapons training. Ive got Glocks.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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