|Time for more grandstanding?|
This morning, Thomas A. Bergstrom finally got hold of his client, Msgr. William J. Lynn, to tell him the good news that his conviction had been vacated by the state Superior Court, and that Lynn was going to get a new trial.
The monsignor was "very pleased" to hear it, Bergstrom said. The two men discussed if and when Lynn was going to get out of jail. And then Lynn asked if Bergstrom knew what District Attorney Seth Williams was going to do next.
That's the big question. The district attorney, who has stonewalled this blog for three years, released a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer that said the D.A. "is committed to protecting all the citizens of Philadelphia against crimes of violence such as those committed by Msgr. Lynn."
The district attorney has 14 days to decide whether he will appeal the latest reversal by the state Superior Court to the state Supreme Court. Frankly, the citizens of Philadelphia are more in danger from the district attorney's crimes of violence against justice in his so-called "historic" prosecution of the church then they are by any of the alleged acts that Lynn was tried for. Especially when you consider the very real possibility that the alleged victim in the case, Billy Doe, the credibility-challenged former altar boy, probably made the whole thing up.
While Lynn was waiting to get out of the prison at SCI-Waymart, his lawyer was busy in Philadelphia filing an emergency motion in Common Pleas Court to get the case reassigned to another judge. Even though his conviction is overturned, Lynn cannot be released from prison without an order from the trial judge, M. Teresa Sarmina.
"In light of the fact that the Superior Court's Dec. 22, 2015 opinion was based upon the improper ruling by the trial court to allow certain evidence -- coupled with the trial court's [Sarmina, J.] previous hard sentence and other rulings -- Lynn respectfully moves the court to reassign his case to a different judge," Bergstrom wrote in a motion filed today.
In his motion, Bergstrom argued that the state Superior Court had just decided that Judge Sarmina had abused her discretion by allowing the prosecution to enter in as evidence 21 supplemental cases of sex abuse. The cases dated back to the 1948, three years before Lynn was born, in documents maintained in the archdiocese's so-called secret archive files.
"The vast majority of the abusive acts occurred long before Lynn assumed the role of Secretary for Clergy," Bergstrom wrote. Bergstrom also pointed out how, in a previous appeal, when the state Superior Court previously ruled that Lynn should be "discharged forthwith," it was Judge Sarmina who decided that Lynn should remain in a rectory "on house arrest, and subject to electronic monitoring."
The judge has been hostile to the defendant in other ways, Bergstrom argued.
"During his release on bail to home confinement, Lynn requested of Judge Sarmina permission to marry his niece at her wedding ceremony on Aug. 15, 2014 in Bucks County," Bergstrom wrote. "Judge Sarmina granted his request to attend the meeting, but denied his request to perform the ceremony."
Judge Sarmina also declared that if she granted Lynn bail, she was worried that he might flee to the Vatican. It's another reason why Tom Bergstrom is seeking a new judge.
But if his request is not granted, Bergstrom will once again be in the uncomfortable position of going before Judge Sarmina to argue that his client deserves to get out of jail.
Meanwhile, in light of the state Superior Court's decision, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, fired some fresh criticism at Judge Sarmina.
"Finally, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina was taken down for her disgraceful decision to present evidence against Lynn that antedated his birth," Donohue wrote. "The Superior Court judges ripped her for presenting evidence that was 'trivial or minimal.' It was obvious from her deceitful ploy that she was putting the entire Catholic Church on trial. But she is far from the only unethical official in this scam."
Donohue then preceded to criticize, among others, Billy Doe, D.A. Williams and the Inquirer.
"The key witness for Philly D.A. Seth Williams was 'Billy Doe,' a known drug addict, thief and serial liar who was kicked out of two high schools," Dononue wrote. "Even his own mother testified against him."
"The Philadelphia Inquirer was so anxious to put Lynn in the slammer that when I offered it $58,000 in 2013 to run a full-page ad exposing the many faces of corruption, I was turned down," Donohue wrote. "The depth and breadth of dishonesty, vengeance and bigotry that marks this witch-hunt is astounding. Shame on all the parties to it."