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Friday, September 10, 2010

Mahony Justice re Pedophile Priests: Outspend Plaintiffs as Only the Catholic Church Can, L.A. 2007 Revisited

(One more summer rerun: City of Angels Blog returns from hiatus to full production September 14, 2010. This post first ran August 7, 2007, at City of Angels 3.)

("If anyone sues you and wants to take your tunic, let him have your coat also." Christ according to Matthew 5:40)

I walked into Department 20 at L.A. Superior Court this morning and there was Plaintiff Liaison Attorney Tony DeMarco in the front row, his face beating red, articulating anger as his hearing began. In this one of 500-plus Coordinated Clergy Cases, plaintiffs have been trying to get documents from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Inc., for months, and in today's hearing yet another new church attorney spoke before the judge: “Mr. DeMarco thinks the U.S. Province and Western Province are one and the same when in fact they're two different entities and the Western Province was never served with a summons.”

Through his teeth, DeMarco said, “Now that I’m being educated about the Western Province I’ll serve them. We served the order in Washington DC in 2005 when this case was released.” The motion was granted. The attorney for the Oblates, just added to the team last week, says he will be cooperative, and all go through the motions of the issue being resolved.

I haven’t written a post in almost a week as, truth is, since July 16th (the L.A. Clergy Cases settlement announcement), I’ve been walking around with my mouth hanging open feeling, well, unsettled. Truth is I feel like the Catholic Church won a major victory in L.A., that the plaintiffs and even the judge just caved under the nonstop onslaught of motions and arguments coming from the 18-plus and counting law firms hired to fight the plaintiffs in these cases.

I don't enjoy writing that I think the plaintiffs lost, but it seems like if I don't write it, I can’t write anything else. So in my opinion, after covering the L.A. Clergy Cases 2007 as no other journalist has, Catholic Church money and power plowed everybody down. The Superior Court in L.A. just caved in to the Archdiocese and Cardinal Roger Mahony's defense teams.

The Church won in L.A. by hiring enough lawyers to conduct a legal obstruction of justice. I watched in the weeks before what would have been the first trial in July 2007. Plaintiff attorneys came before the judge over and over asking for orders to compel defense witnesses to testify in deposition. The judge would grant the order and a few weeks later plaintiffs would be before the judge again, now saying they need an order to compel the witness to answer all the questions in the deposition, because his Catholic Church-paid attorney won’t allow him to answer.

In this case in court today, where DeMarco turned new shades of red, there would now be a new attorney from a new law firm before the judge representing defendant religious order.

New attorneys for the Catholic Church kept appearing all the time.

Being a new attorney he or she could say, gee, judge, I don't know what he’s talking about, problems getting the defendant witness to answer? We'll be glad to comply. Two months later the plaintiff attorney is before the judge again, now asking for a discovery referee because that defense hierarchy witness now has another lawyer and none of the questions are being answered.

I watched plaintiff attorney Katherine Freberg try one way after another for more than a year to get definitive answers out of L.A.'s Cardinal Roger Mahony to Interrogatories 1-8, and as the Caffoe and Hagenbach cases jury trials approached for which those interrogatory answers were needed, the judge seems to have accepted answers written by a Monsignor Gonzales instead of the Cardinal. What else could plaintiffs and the judge do but- cave? It was obvious the remote Roger Cardinal Mahony was never going to be forced into answering her questions.

One after another individual cases got struck and dismissed as members of the 18-plus law firms representing the Catholic Church and its religious orders began a buck passing routine. One chuch entity could pass responsibility to another and that one passed it to another, each found ways to use that very confusion- about which order or diocese was responsible for what- to get the cases dismissed.

And there were church attorneys in court just this morning continuing the same routine.

After this:

COMMERCIAL BREAK, (as CofA used to run them in 2007 and continues in 2010)

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We're Not Denying You Were Molested by a Priest, but You Filed the Papers with the Wrong Order

Case Dismissed

We're not denying that the molestation took place, reads several of the motions to quash and dismiss filed by the Catholic Church in Clergy Cases 2007. Archdiocese and Religious Order attorneys argue, Plaintiff served the subpoena on the wrong entity and by the time plaintiff realized we were hiding it over here, I mean, that summons should have been filed under a different entity, the Statute of Limitations had run out.

Good thing I go to a Scripture based Anger Management class, where I just saw this: in Matthew 5:40 quoting Jesus himself it says: “If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your coat also.” And you know what you've gotta laugh. . .

That scripture comes directly after the Gospel about turning the other cheek.

I don't know where in Scripture it says to hire as many attorneys as you can to not only keep the truth from coming out but to keep from even getting a stain on the tunic.

The Catholic Church in L.A. 2007 created loopholes that ended up in plaintiff cases being dismissed. The Church took full advantage of its confusing structure to keep plaintiffs from knowing who the real culprits were. Most of the time those loopholes were the result of the miasma of religious orders, seminaries, schools and parishes camps clubhouses and retreats that make up the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

Now in 2007 the archdiocese has conveniently forgiven and reconciled with itself, by creating a miasma out of the clergy cases themselves.

It was four or five main plaintiff attorney firms running on their own resources, versus this never ending list of new law firms, one after the other, signing on as Catholic Church attorneys, one whole firm assigned to help out each individual order, each individual parish, hospital, school. The amount of cash spent by the archdiocese to fight the plaintiffs in these cases would be illegal in a rational world. But it’s America in 2007 and the person with the most cash wins. The plaintiffs are lucky they were able to get what they got, averaging about $1.3 million each. After 40 percent for the lawyers, these lifelong crime victims ended up with, in L.A., enough money to maybe buy a condo and get some dental work done, to me, far short of a victory to celebrate.

I went through my notes from the last year's hearings looking for ways to explain this sense of "justice interruptus" and found things like this:

March 27, 2007, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for a discovery referee and-

-they were still trying to get one by the July 16th settlement.

It was March 27th that DeMarco was in court trying to get Monsignor Lirette to give answers in deposition instead of the constant objections from church attorneys to every questions.

Did Plaintiffs Ever Get a Deposition from Monsignor Lirette?:

More after this:

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The fight went on from at least March through July to get a deposition from Monsignor Lirette:
Motion spewing defense attorneys

Then there was the nonstop stream of motions to strike and dismiss filed by the hyperactive Lee Potts that ended up with attorneys from both sides arguing in front of the judge and producing transcripts like this from April 24th.

PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY DEMARCO: There have been quite a few motions filed and quite a few folks not getting motions filed because of the service…

CHURCH ATTORNEY POTTS: (getting rattled) We did what's required- The motion was on the second page and he says he didn't get it-

DEMARCO: It wasn’t faxed, emailed personally delivered, postal mailed. Case management is not exactly crystal clear on that point.

JUDGE HALEY FROMHOLZ: This is an argument for another day, (he’s thrown his hands up in the air as he speaks).

JUDGE: (Glares at Potts) You may not be aware of it

POTTS: (Laughs nervously)

JUDGE: I’ve had a constant stream of motions to dismiss based on certificates of merit.

DEMARCO: We'll raise it in a different context--

JUDGE: Mr. Potts, there was another one taken off calendar yesterday because of the same arguments, certificates of merit.

DEMARCO: We had provided them with an answer, we had provided those certificates some time back and re-provided again and Mr. Potts was cordial enough to take this one motion off the calendar- it wasn’t for a lack of diligence.

JUDGE: Please be mindful of that gentlemen.

Just today in that same case the judge decided to grant the motion to strike and dismiss because of confusion over those same certificates of merit.

(I don't claim to understand all of this myself. )
In fact last few times I've gone document diving it all just started to swirl and confuse me

Imagine what it does to a mainstream media reporter.

I watched church attorneys stand in front of the judge and repeat over and over arguments that the judge had already overruled. It was going to go on and on and on with no resolution for maybe two more years and more cases being thrown out.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs tried to take depositions from critical defense witnesses for months and made little progress, because of church attorneys literally blocking doors (or arranging to have doors blocked literally, private detectives standing in front of doors).

Katherine Freberg tried for almost a year to get definitive answers from Roger Mahony in written interrogatories and a week before the trial the judge gave in and accepted non-answers from Mahony’s minion Monsignor Gonzales, as the best we're ever going to get out of Mahony. It was a way to avoid having to postpone yet another trial yet another time, as answers to the interrogatories were necessary for the Hagenbach trials set to start July 9th.

But truth is Mahony was never going to answer any interrogatories.

Plaintiffs were never going to get cooperation from the Catholic Church defendants.

It was better to throw in the towel and take whatever settlement they could get in July because by September and October things would just be worse. The church would just hire more lawyers and file more redundant motions and find more excuses for hierarchy witnesses to not testify, until all the hierarchy witnesses with anything to say died from natural causes.

This is as good as it’s going to get in LA. And me, I’m unsettled. I’m not even settled with this post but I have to just post it and then move on.

More to Come

I hope you enjoy reading this blog. It’s time for me to pass the Internet hat. Please put some cash on my PayPal account as it makes me feel professional when I actually make money at this, then City of Angels Blog gets more professional. Thank You.

Story first ran at CofA 3 Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I Have to Say This: We Lost in LA, the Church Used its Endless Wealth to Bulldoze Plaintiffs, Attorneys, Even Judges, Fight Still Being Fought Today
Posted by Kay Ebeling, Producer, City of Angels Blog since Jan. 2007
We will be back with all new posts September 14, 2010.

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