Monday, September 14, 2015

Billy Doe Case Back From The Dead

By Ralph Cipriano

Like a zombie that refuses to die, the Billy Doe civil case is still scheduled for trial at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 9th, in Courtroom 480 of City Hall.

Many people assumed the case was over after Archbishop Charles Chaput caved and decided to settle with the notorious junkie hustler, but court records say the show will go on.

Msgr. William J. Lynn, and the estate of the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua have already been dismissed as defendants, as has the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But Billy Doe's lawyers are still pressing forward with what they hope will become a show trial against three remaining defendants in the case -- former priest Edward Avery, former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero, and the estate of the late Father Charles Engelhardt.

Avery and Shero remain in prison for sexually assaulting the former altar boy; Engelhardt died in prison last November.

But lawyers for Engelhardt's estate are still trying to clear his name, and they have gotten some help from a judge. On Sept. 9th, Judge Linda Carpenter granted an "emergency motion to compel the independent medical examination" of the plaintiff. According to the judge's order, Billy Doe has to travel from Florida to be examined at 10 a.m. Sept. 17th in the offices of Dr. Stephen Mechanick, a forensic psychiatrist in Bryn Mawr. And if Doe fails to appear, the judge ruled, Engelhardt's estate can apply for sanctions.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Judge Lets D.A. Out of Deposition

By Ralph Cipriano

Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams was scheduled for a deposition at 1 p.m. Monday in a defamation case filed against him by Police Officer Linwood Norman.

But yesterday in Common Pleas Discovery Court, Judge Idee C. Fox canceled the deposition because she claimed that the plaintiff's lawyer, Christopher D. Mannix, should have filed an order for pre-complaint discovery.

Mannix maintained that no such order was required, but the judge overruled him. The issue of the D.A.'s deposition, however, is far from settled because Judge Fox declined to enter a protective order sought by the D.A.'s office to prevent a future deposition of Williams.

"The D.A. is unavailable on Sept. 14, and given his understandably busy schedule, he is unlikely to be available for  a deposition at any point prior to the date on which Norman's complaint is due,"  wrote Assistant District Attorney Michael Scalera in a motion for a protective order filed Sept. 10.

In the motion, Scalera asserted that a protective order was needed to prevent "a busy public official" from "the annoyance, oppression and burden of submitting to a deposition based on nothing more than Norman's unfounded suspicion that the D.A. might have said something actionable about him at some point."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Archdiocese Of Philadelphia Settles With Billy Doe

Held Up By A Hustler
By Ralph Cipriano

The archdiocese caved; Billy Doe got paid.

That's the depressing bottom line in the civil case of Doe v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia et al, according to multiple sources.

On the court docket today, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jacqueline F. Allen dismissed both a motion for partial summary judgment filed by the former altar boy, and a motion for summary judgment filed by the archdiocese, as "moot," because both parties had "settled all claims . . . in the instant matter."

The settlement is confidential. As part of the settlement, Msgr. William J. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy, was dismissed as a defendant in the civil case, according to sources. Billy Doe's civil lawyers had also sued the estate of the late Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, but that claim too was settled, according to the court docket.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Msgr. Lynn's Case Back In Superior Court

By Ralph Cipriano
Bergstrom & Lynn Back In Superior Court

Msgr. William J. Lynn is back in jail. He won't be seeing the Pope when he comes to town next month. Meanwhile, Thomas A. Bergstrom, the monsignor's longtime defense lawyer, is back in state Superior Court, arguing that his client deserves to get out of jail or be granted a new trial.

Bergstrom is operating on friendly turf. On Dec. 26, 2013, a panel of three state Superior Court unanimously reversed Lynn's 2012 conviction on a single count of endangering the welfare of a child, and ordered that the monsignor be "discharged forthwith."

But on April 27, four state Supreme Court justices reversed the Superior Court's reversal, setting off a chain of events that culminated with Lynn's return to jail on April 30th.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Inky Editorial Board: Exonerated Narcotics Officers Still Guilty

By Ralph Cipriano

Sometimes a journalist can make the mistake of falling in love with a story. Even when it turns out to be not true.

That seems to be what's happened over at The Philadelphia Inquirer, in the case of the six former members of the city's Narcotics Field Unit.

After a seven-week trial a jury in May found the officers not guilty on all 47 charges of a 26-count RICO indictment that alleged conspiracy, deprivation of civil rights, robbery, extortion, carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, falsification of records, and aiding and abetting.

To recap, the jury heard all the evidence in the case and 47 times the jury foreman told the judge that the verdict was not guilty on every charge.

But at the Inquirer, the editorial board keeps on serving up sour grapes about the case, while rehashing disproven allegations and nasty quotes at the heart of a defamation lawsuit filed by the acquitted cops and one of their superior officers. The conduct of the newspaper has left lawyers for the cops scratching their heads and wondering what the hell is going on over at the city's paper of record.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Sixth Narcotics Officer Files Libel Claim

By Ralph Cipriano
Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer

The sixth defendant in the so-called "rogue cops" case has filed a libel and defamation claim against District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Officer Linwood Norman filed a writ of summons Thursday in Common Pleas Court notifying the city that he was suing the three officials.

Norman's suit follows an amended defamation claim filed last week in federal court against the same three city officials on behalf of the other five defendants in the rogue cops case -- Officers Michael Spicer, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, John Speiser and Thomas Liciardello -- as well as the group's former supervisor, Lt. Robert Otto.

Now all six defendants who beat the rap are suing the city for defamation.

"Officer Norman was one of the six allegedly 'sick scumbags' referred to by Mayor Nutter after the indictment and he was one of the six officers who apparently was so contemptible and despicable according to Commissioner Ramsey that his badge needed to be melted," said Christopher D. Mannix, the lawyer who filed both lawsuits on behalf of the former narcotics officers and their supervisor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Judge Finds Jeffrey Walker A "Truthful And Credible" Witness

By Ralph Cipriano

Judge Eduardo Robreno today described Jeffrey Walker, the dirty cop-turned government cooperator, as a "truthful and credible" witness. What's more, the judge said, Walker's testimony withstood the "crucible" of cross-examination by a half-dozen skilled defense lawyers.

The jury, however, didn't see it that way on May 14th when they rejected Walker's testimony and acquitted six defendants on all 47 counts of a RICO indictment.

But an undeterred Judge Robreno approved a downward departure in the sentencing guidelines for Walker, and gave him 42 months in jail. The judge squared his findings that Walker was truthful and credible with the jury verdict by saying there was a difference between being found not guilty and being innocent.

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Rogue" Cops Sue Rufus, Ramsey & Nutter For Defamation

 Three "Grandstanding" Public Officials Targeted In "Laughable" Prosecution
By Ralph Cipriano

Five of the "rogue" cops who won their jobs back, as well as their supervisor, have filed a  defamation and false light suit against District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, and Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

The suit seeks monetary and punitive damages for the irresponsible "grandstanding" done by Williams, Ramsey and
Nutter in the rogue cops case, according to an amended complaint filed July 24th in U.S. District Court by Philadelphia lawyer Christopher D. Mannix.

The lawsuit, the most entertaining court file I've read in years, has been ignored so far by the Inquirer, and confined to just four paragraphs near the bottom of a 34-paragaph story in today's Daily News about the sentencing of Jeffrey Walker, the government's star witness. But the defamation lawsuit for the first time tells the back story behind the rogue cops case only whispered about at trial -- a petty turf battle between law enforcement agencies allegedly feuding over drug forfeiture money and credit for drug busts. It was a feud supposedly set off by the blunt personality of Officer Thomas Liciardello, the former leader of the Narcotics Field Unit.

The amended complaint also shines an unflattering spotlight on the inner workings of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office its dealings with the media, especially a cozy relationship with Fox 29.


Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog Copyright © 2014