(Another Summer Rerun, this story first appeared Jan. 23, 2009, at City of Angels 5, now here slightly edited:)
(Attorney Donald Steier appears every time an L.A. pedophile priest needs defense, whether it's criminal, civil, or appeals court. Rough transcript of a hearing on personnel files below shows Steier (pictured) is adept at extending the legal process ad infinitum. One tactic he uses is to continue and continue and continue hearings, hoping plaintiff attorneys will simply drop out of the fight due to depleted resources. Steier has admitted in a California state court that he is paid by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a corporation sole. Here is how a hearing about release of priest personnel files went in L.A. Superior Court in Jan. 2009:)
Steier: I won’t accept this. There are particular realities of the situation. I am going to ask for a hearing date and then determine if an appellate filing would be appropriate. (In other words, he’s already planning to appeal the decision that will be made next hearing.)
Tony DeMarco, Attorney for the plaintiffs (pictured left), turns around to Steier and says, “It’s been fully briefed. Do you still want to formulate arguments? There’s no need to extend more and more delays.” (See Video of interview with DeMarco after this hearing at bottom of this blog post.)
Steier: The delay is not mine. I'm not a total idiot. This issue is different from Clergy Two. Now we're going forward with a new discussion and I'm going to argue it.
Here’s where it gets murky. Steier asks everyone to coordinate their calendars around this trip he’s taking. I sense others in the court have been impatient with him for a long time. It’s in the body language.
An ephemeral slouch comes over the attorneys as Steier jumps up yet again and asks for more time to file more briefs, more hearings, more ways to stretch this thing out so long that the Los Angeles news media has long forgotten the Clergy Cases, even some of the plaintiffs seem to have forgotten that release of personnel files on their perpetrators was part of the July-Dec 2007 L.A. settlement agreement between 510 plaintiffs and the Catholic Church.
At this Jan. 2009 hearing, the lawyers and judge juggled the hearing date so that Donald Steier, who represents an undetermined number of priests, could file yet another opposition brief and the date is especially important as Steier is taking a vacation. He wants to be sure he's back for the hearing but it may mean putting off the whole operation another couple months, but then DeMarco has to be in Fresno for a trial in March.
I know something is happening here, without me knowing what it is - Hmm. "You know something's happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?" Bob Dylan, 1965
I’ve kept an eye on Superior Court notices at the county website. Even when it says “nothing on calendar next two weeks” there can still be L.A. Clergy Case hearings scheduled. You have to go to the Case Summary section, not the Court Calendar section.
Still, when the clergy cases were downtown in the Superior Court building on Hill Street, I could jump on a Metro and be there in half an hour, look things up, and be home, real quick.
It's near impossible for me to get to this Dept 308 location.
As a result, since I am now the only journalist in the world covering these 500-plus pedophile priest cases, a lot has been decided concerning release of documents, a lot has been ordered to remain sealed, and I have yet to get down there to read the judge's orders, maybe one afternoon next week -
(Update Aug 31, 2010: between my job and this court location that is hard to get to on transit, I've barely gotten back to the courthouse. Clicks on my PayPal button would help me with things like cab fare and buying what documents there are at 50 cents a page....)
Here is what I was able to write down from that hearing on a Tuesday in January 2009:
They worked it out that the hearing on Donald Steier’s latest arguments to seal documents will be March 5th.
(I could have sworn I saw a Hawaiian shirt in Steier’s briefcase, but he slammed it shut real quick.)
“I’ll get the briefing done in my absence,” he said in short curt tones, like to say - you people are causing me such an inconvenience. The judge and plaintiff attorneys are forcing him to work while he's in the Bahamas or wherever. “It’s not our fault,” Steier said.
Judge: I know, I just hope in my lifetime we get the stuff in the jury room moved into storage.
Steier: Well you don't even have these files. (He is bristling)
DeMarco: Would you mind telling the court the anticipated length of this next brief?
Steier: It will be a complete briefing.
DeMarco: Are we talking about another 50-page--?
Judge: He needs my permission to file a 50-page brief.
Steier: Well there’s constitutional law issues, and if the court - I will write it to any deadline you set.
(You get the feeling Donald Steier is a battery bunny on autopilot. He can file objections, file objections, copy and paste paragraphs, fill pages with legalspeak, stuff up everybody’s time and minds with mounds of arguments - then take off on vacation leaving the rest of the Court to wade through his work. What really bugs me is Steier's tactic appears to be working. Steier is getting a lot of documents sealed. He’s wearing down the court system. The pervert priests get to keep their reputations.)
The Pervert Priests Get to Keep Their Reputations
Judge: The hearing has to be before Mr. Steier goes on vacation.
(Several attorneys overlap each other discussing exactly how many days prior to a hearing a briefing must be filed. Six of them get out hand-held digital devices to check their calendars.)
(Steier reaches in and caresses the fabric of the getaway shirt in his briefcase.)
The judge asks more questions about this trip Steier is taking. He glances back at me then says, May I approach the bench. The rest of the discussion takes place way up there where I can’t hear a thing. I try to sketch, but my hands just don’t want to draw anything.
Truth is my hands are shaking. My whole body is shaking. That incident with the Armenians in my apartment building had repercussions. I guess because I already have PTSD, the way I responded to it, I kept re-seeing them, all 11 of them standing under my balcony, hollering hate at me, waving their buzz saws.
Problem is, with PTSD, I was shaking, literally shaking after the incident, inside, not just my hands, my entire being -
I shook for a week.
I think Tony DeMarco thinks I'm a junkie the way I was shaking when I interviewed him.
(See video below)
I'm starting to shake again now as I write about the incident last week where I was assaulted by 11 Armenians in my apartment building, three of them wielding buzz saws. That really happened.
There isn't really a Hawaiian shirt in Steier's briefcase. . .
Back to Court:
Steier: I have no objection to anything but Exhibits from third party files.
That means Police files in this case.
Judge: Okay then we're sending this pile back where they came from?
Judge: Okay, we'll go look at that room. There are over three hundred (300) exhibits in the jury room. This stack (She pulls out one of several stacks of papers behind her) these are the ones someone objected to.
(She picks up another stack)
Judge: We have motions to seal, okay, we'll just keep all of these under seal.
(And the stack goes back. Piles and piles of documents remaining under seal.)
Judge: Then there are these two other stacks. Two, one for a tentative to unseal - this relates to the other order, and then there’s this pile.
(Will anyone ever be able to figure out what happened here?)
DeMarco speaks to the Judge: We've already spent time on arguments. I did not submit an objection to the order to leave these sealed.
Judge: And this stack, these DeMarco briefed with arguments why they are sealed (He later told me these would be personal private information about plaintiffs, left under seal now as well.)
Judge: Okay we had a motion to unseal on this stack quite a while ago. (She brings out another pile) Recently there was a supplemental brief, but the newer brief doesn't mention these.
Church attorney Sean Kneafsey looks back at me and says something I can't hear.
Judge: This stack is staying sealed.
(Several attorneys stand up and speak about right to privacy, and Griswold vs. Connecticut. )
Judge: They're all staying sealed. So let’s get everything boxed up and everything in that room outta here. So I’ll go look at the boxes and then this will be all wrapped up.
(Steier Says No Again )
Steier: I did file objections and I was prepared to argue those today. There are documents not in the courtroom but they are in the order. I am objecting to those going to the referee.
DeMarco: The protocol is that they should go to the referee, after we hear arguments over -
Judge: Some are to be sent back where they came from and some are going to the referee.
Then all the attorneys, the court reporter, and the judge all got up and went to look at the documents that are stored in a room across the hall.
They left me behind so I could not hear what they said. That's the way they seem to like it.
That's the best I can do on this for now, guys, my two other jobs are slamming.
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Video of interview w/ Tony DeMarco and Original Jan. 2009 Story Linked Below this picture
Friday, January 23, 2009
Here is what happened at hearing last Tuesday, in fact, here is what is happening in release of documents from Clergy Cases settled in LA in July 2007
Steier: I won’t accept this. There are particular realities of the situation. I am going to ask for a hearing date and then determine if an appellate (filing?) would be appropriate. (He’s already planning to appeal the decision that will be made next hearing.)
More About L.A. Clergy Case Documents Tuesday, January 20, 2009
VIDEO: DeMarco talks to City of Angels after an L.A. Superior Court Hearing on Priest Personnel File Release.
In the post below is text from one of Donald Steier's most copy and pasted documents arguing against release of documents:
Monday, February 8, 2010
What L.A. plaintiffs are up against re release of perp priest personnel files
"Not one trial occurred, not one allegation against any priest was proved." Attorneys for pedophile priests filed this objection to unseal docs November 2008. CofA will post more docs filed subsequently by the Guzin & Steier lawfirm to prevent release of documents momentarily: Father Doe, for himself and other non-party priests similarly situated and identified in their Objection to the Proposed Transfer of Records filed in this court on or about January 28, 2008, the public disclosure of whose privileged and private personnel records are the subject of the Application for Order of Reference, hereby appears specially to oppose the Order and the proposed transfer...
Blog posted by Kay Ebeling, Producer, City of Angels Blog
Video originally posted and transcribed here: