Monday, April 23, 2012

Will Father Avery Be Hauled Back to Court in a Jump Suit?

The judge in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse trial left open the possibility Monday that prosecutors may be allowed to haul into court a former priest who, on the eve of trial, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child and involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old boy.

Edward V. Avery, a defrocked former archdiocese priest, is now serving a prison sentence of between 2 1/2 to 5 years. But his chief accuser, namely the former altar boy that he abused, is due in court on Wednesday. The question is whether defense attorneys in the case will be allowed to challenge the victim's credibility on cross-examination.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington told Judge M. Teresa Sarmina that if she rules that defense lawyers can challenge the victim's credibility, "We're back to square one, with Avery on trial here." That's when the judge suggested that the prosecution had the option of seeking permission to haul Avery back in court.

The jury has not been told about Avery's guilty plea. This was done at the request of the defense, which was worried that the news would prejudice the jury into thinking that Msgr. William J. Lynn was also guilty. Lynn, the archdiocese's former secretary for clergy, is on trial on charges of conspiring with Avery, and another co-defendant, Father James Brennan, to endanger the welfare of minors by allowing both priests to continue in ministry.

But Blessington complained that it would be misleading to allow the defense to attack the credibility of his accuser, and not tell the jury that Avery had already pleaded guilty to the charges. The assistant district attorney said by not getting rid of Avery earlier, "Lynn put a power keg out there, and his name is Avery."

"We're back at square one, to prove beyond an unreasonable doubt that the powder keg exploded," Blessington said.

But the defense wasn't convinced. "Mr. Blessington's argument doesn't make sense," said Jeff Lindy, one of the defense lawyers for Msgr. Lynn. Lindy said the whole case was about intent. "This trial is about his [Lynn's] state of mind," the defense lawyer said. In other words, was Msgr. Lynn consciously conspiring with Father Avery when Avery was allowed to continue in ministry.

Both sides indicated they had plenty more to say about the subject, before Avery's accuser shows up in court on Wednesday. So the judge said she would end court at 3:30 p.m. Thursday so the lawyers in the case could present some case law and make some final arguments. Then the judge will announce her decision.


  1. I know commenters beat me up here a lot, but I have some thoughts about this.

    The prosecution allowed Avery to cut a deal where he wouldn't have to testify against Lynn. Right?

    But then the prosecution wants to call Avery's accuser to the stand, and then it argues that the defense can't challenge him at all without having Avery appear!?

    That doesn't seem fair - and it also seems that the prosecution did not negotiate its plea deal in good faith.

    Contrary to what people say about me here, I just want to see a FAIR TRIAL. If the clerics are guilty of the crimes which they are accused of, they should do serious time.

    But the prosecution seems to be playing a bit of a game in this instance - it wants to have its cake and eat it too.


    1. You don't understand the rules of evidence. If the defense challenges the credibility of the accusers, then the defense"opens the door" to evidence that the abuse occurred. If you want a fair trial, and a defendant has admitted that the allegations are true and made a sworn plea proffer, then any attempts at impeaching the victims testimony that the abuse occurred, would be in bad faith.--because we know in fact that the abuse occurred.

      So what are you complaining is unfair, that the defense team can't reabuse the victims through cross examination that suggests they are lying, and then preclude the prosecutors from presenting evidence that rebuts the suggestion that they are lying? We know the victims aren't lying about Avery. The defense has a choice. They can decline to ask questions that they know are not in good faith, and then the jury never hears from Avery. Or they can open the door to Avery by asking questions that they know are lacking in factual basis. In this situation, the judge may allow limited questioning about when they reported the abuse to show that Lynne didn't know, but not allow questioning to impeach credibility. It's a tough balance because a delay in reporting may be used to suggest recent fabrication, and that opens the door to show that it wasn't recently fabricated. A guilty plea is pretty strong evidence that the charges were not fabricated. Accordingly, the court may issue a limiting instruction to help the jury evaluate the evidence for the limited purpose offered. But really, it's the defense that wants to have and eat cake. Let us impugn the victims integrity at will but preclude evidence showing they are truthful.

      My guess is that Brennan will plead as well since he admitted abuse to the priest from West Virginia at the hearing, and the WV court has ordered him to appear. If that happens, Lynne will most certainly be convicted. If Brennan takes a guilty verdict the sentence could be severe since the prior victims cases that are time barred could be considered in sentencing. Brennan needs to plead to avoid a long sentence if the WV testimony comes in as expected. He's cooked.

    2. I know the rules of evidence. You've simply chosen to deflect the point I'm trying to make. There can't be bad faith on the part of the defense because Avery's defenders aren't even in the picture anymore.

      With that said, you may be right about Brennan. I'm not sure, but we'll see.

    3. themediareport,

      Commenters beat you up here because you distort the truth to defend pedophile priests. (Ironically, prisoners beat up pedophiles, like they did to your pedophile priest pal Fr Macrae, doing 30-60 years for child rape).

      You do not want to see a fair trial. You want to SELL BOOKS. You want to DISTORT THE TRUTH.

      That is why you will discredit an entire group of 5,000 child rape victims in SNAP because one of its members didn't turn in his brother fast enough, even though he had no proof that his brother actually raped a child.

      In contrast, you do not discredit Catholic priests, even though we know that the Catholic church admitted 4,392 "Jerry Sandusky" priests in its own report, and in absolutely every single case, those priests confessed to another priest that they had raped a child, so the Catholic church absolutely knew these pedophile priests were guilty.

      In addition, you missed the point here. If Avery's accuser gets on the stand, the Catholic attorneys will do the most dishonest thing possible and try to question his credibility, even though they know he is telling the truth.

      The prosecution can't say "this accuser is telling the truth, and Avery lied for 30 years about raping a child, like most Catholic priests do, but he finally told the truth about it last week". However, the sleazy Catholic defense will undoubtedly try to make the jury think the accuser is lying.

      This, in fact, is themediareport starategy for protecting pedophiles and selling books.

    4. I simply and respectfully suggest that you put your best material up and keep doing that as long as you feel you have something to contribute .

      This case is significant and it’s not often in the current climate that a broad discussion can be intelligently conducted, or at least that thoughts not acceptable to the peanut-gallery can be contributed.

      I submit that you owe it to Truth to offer your best thoughts; Truth will not be served by you or anybody retiring, especially if in doing so the field and the discourse are left to other elements. And there are many who read here without commenting, who deserve to see what you have to offer.

      The fact that the site has attracted what I would call bar-flies is just one of those things that goes with the web. But I think that there is even an upside to that: people who read the site will be able to see for themselves what - as I am coming to think – is a predominant characteristic of the discourse that has driven a lot of the larger phenomena not only in the abuse-matters but in the national political culture generally.

      One thinks of that moment – preserved forever in grainy black and white newsreel footage – of Haile Selassie standing up in the League of Nations to speak against Mussolini’s invasion of his homeland, and being literally hooted down by catcalls and screams from Musso’s delegates to the League. They and Musso knew that no open discussion and analysis of that invasion could lead to anything but to a clear refutation of what they were doing. So the game was to stop the open discussion and analysis.

      The nice thing about the web is that you can say what you feel needs to be said without actually being stopped from saying it by the assorted hoots, catcalls and such. The best the age-old catcalling spirit can do is make its own comments, which – nicely – are up there in indelible web-print for everyone to see and assess for themselves.

      Don’t give in. When intelligent discourse does nothing, the field is left to something far more primitive.

      Which is something that happens, I think, far more often than simply this case and this matter. If the primitiveness is allowed to win by driving you away, then no good cause is served and other things will be strengthened. And that cannot end well for the values of maturity, active engagement, intelligent exchange, and serious deliberation of public matters.

      I repeat here what I said in another comment on this site: there is a saying in the Navy that no matter how far out at sea you are, you are never more than a couple of miles from land. The idea revolves around the three-dimensional rather than the two-dimensional comprehension of reality: the sea-floor is never more than two or three miles away.

      Meaning that even the smallest matters in life (and this case is larger than those) are never far removed from first principles.

    5. Commenters here are not "beating you up" as you claim. Some of us simply disagree with some of your opinions. We don't know the wording of Avery's plea agreement but it sounds to me like he wasn't compelled to testify against his co-defendents as part of the deal. It probably doesn't say he wouldn't be called under any circumstance. For someone so concerned about fairness I don't know why you think it is fair for Lynn's lawyers to "challenge" (your word) Avery's victims credibility when it is a fact and there is evidence to show his testimony is true? btw - you do realize that Lynn will present a defense, led by very good lawyers, and that Lynn will have a chance to testify and clear up all this terrible misunderstanding.

    6. The tone and content of some disagreements with commenter 'Pierre' - extant throughout this site - include slurs and insinuations that would indicate indeed that some commenters are more comfortable in the attempt to 'beat up' than in the effort to engage in deliberation and discussion as to the issues.

      And if such performance is accurately taken to be their idea of 'disagreeing', then that would indicate a level of deliberational maturity more akin to an adolescent venue or a barroom or some such than to a serious discussion site.

      That would be my take on the matter.

    7. No, DPierre runs a one sided catholic apologist propaganda website. For example, he details everything about the credibility of Brennan's accuser, but doesn't point out the fact, that the nun at Brennan's former residence complained that he was having an inappropriate relationship with a teenaged boy, i.e. living with him. His website also doesn't point out that he was placed on leave from Cardinal O'Hara High School for having inappropriate relationships with teenaged boys, including the same one he later lived with at Divine Providence that the nun complained about. So, yes; complaining about even handedness when you post one sided bombs against an accuser but don't point out the baggage of the accused that is documented in a Grand Jury's report is a bit ironic to say the least.

      I've read his website and he even defends a convicted pedophile that entered a guilty plea simply because one of many of his accusers recanted. It's not that the guy wasn't a pedophile, he just didn't abuse this particular child. So, DPierre is in a different category than you Pertinax. DPierre is more like a Holocaust denier than an objective commenter on the problem.

      The AOP itself suspended 7% of all of its active priests last year because of credible evidence of abuse. There is clearly a problem. Creating a website to basically say most victims are lying because a few isolated victims have lied, is not a very logical. Pointing out a victim's baggage while leaving out an accused's baggage is wrong.

      Despite the ad hominem shots we occasionally take at each other, I enjoy the exchange with Pertinax. I don't think he really has any data or facts to support his arguments but, for the most part he is civil and thoughtful, if not a bit rambly. My only real exception is when he is criticizing a trial judge who is really just trying to call balls and strikes on a very charged trial because I don't think he has the knowledge or expertise about the rules of evidence to make those accusations.

    8. Since I find myself directly implicated by commenter KOPRIDE, I Pertinax would like the record to show that I do not enjoy the "exchanges" with the aforementioned since I find that in describing commenter PIERRE he actually has pretty accurately described himself, in my opinion.

      And I further declare that I would not characterize any online interaction with the aforementioned on this site as an "exchange"; to be quite candid, I find it more an exercise in listening to a one-note brassy band out on the lawn before one has had one's morning coffee.

      Let the record further show that I shall always give commenter KOPRIDE's opinions, assessments, assertions, claims, and assorted other detritus precisely the respect and attention they deserve and not a whit less.

      If anyone, lastly, can direct me to where in my comments I have "criticized a trial judge" and made other such "accusations", kindly so advise.

  2. I think the prosecution played the same game the defense has been playing for far too long: They simply offered Avery what he's been used to: "Hey, come into our house and we'll protect you." The prosecution NEVER said that they couldn't call his victim/survivor to the stand. They also didn't say that the defense couldn't challenge his credibility. They simply stated that if the defense does question his credibility, they have the right to put his perp on the stand. Sounds devastatingly fair to me. The AOP got caught in the same game they've been playing for centuries.
    1. Pretend concern.
    2. Protect the perp at all costs.
    3. Try to threaten, further demean, and destroy the victim/survivor into silence.
    4. If 1-3 don't work, take them to court and let our high-paid lawyers take care of it.
    The only problem is, the AOP didn't count on Avery finally accepting what he'd been taught and believed his whole life: Life is eternal. How do you want to live it?

  3. Jerchap10: I think that you're right on the money in your assessment of this case! The Church's tactics are backfiring against Her, Thank God, and now She is going to end up paying the piper! Hopefully, Fr. Avery isn't the only one that will be found in an little, orange jumpsuit. I can't wait to see the day when members of the Hierarchy need to exchange their expensive vestments and Gucci shoes for little, orange prison jumpsuits and tennis shoes. I'd love to be there for the photo-opp! There day is coming, and it'll be sooner than they think!

    1. Next - Cardinal Rigali, going from red hat to orange jumpsuit.

      Next - Bishop Cullen and Cistone, soon to be "Belle of the Ball" in prison.

      Let's hope they all hear the same chant Fr Macrae heard.

    2. I still say the trial is a sham. WHERE IS RIGALI ? ? ?

    3. This will have to move slowly, and here's why.

      There are still old ladies who are Catholics and will vote as their bishop tells them. Prosecutors have been afraid of going after the organized child rape crime syndicate in the Catholic church because they'd get voted out of office.

      Even as the grand jury report shows how disgusting the Catholic church practices are, the old ladies don't read it. However, as more of this makes it into mainstream papers, die hard Catholics will object less and less to these prosecutions.

      Lynn is the first pedophile promoter on trial. Finn in KC is the first bishop, and he couldn't be more guilty. After Lynn & Brennan are found guilty (or plead guilty), they can go after Rigali and Cistone and Cullen, and then hopefully, the FBI will use RICO statutes to go in and investigate the whole criminal empire.

  4. The two points that strike me in today’s article are a) Avery’s guilty plea and b) the conspiracy matter.

    I don’t know if Avery made an unrestricted Guilty plea or if it was through some plea-bargain agreement. The plea-agreement is an instrument used most often by prosecutors to induce some form of ‘successful’ Guilty plea, in order to avoid the difficulties of a trial in a case, many times, that might not succeed for them at trial. It is widely used nowadays – and indeed the vast majority of criminal cases are resolved by plea (so much so that the matter has finally attracted the attention of the higher courts).

    I would say that authoritative higher review of the plea-bargain process generally is a good idea, since the general public is largely under the impression that only the guilty plead Guilty and that a plea-bargain is simply a more verbose form of admitting Guilt. In the dynamics of modern jurisprudence, that is hardly the case at all. It may have been true back in the era when plea-bargains where rarely encountered instruments, but that has not been the case for quite some time now.

    If Avery accepted a plea-bargain from the prosecution – for whatever reasons – then complications could arise if he is now further involved in the trial process in this case. One would have to know the nature of the agreement offered and accepted in the plea-bargain to Avery, if such was made to him and accepted by him.

    Thus too the prosecutors’ discomfort, perhaps, at having Avery’s accuser examined. If the credibility of the accuser of Avery is impeached in the case at bar, then the credibility of Avery’s own Guilty plea – however it was reached – would be put in jeopardy, not least in the public eye. That is to say, if it came to appear (or be clearly demonstrated) that Avery was accused by an unreliable accuser, then no matter how it was reached, his Guilty plea would come into doubt and he might appear as somebody induced by matters other than actual guilt to enter that plea or accept that plea-bargain.

    This is of especial relevance in the type of high-profile case such as the one at bar. The complexity and more nuanced judgments made by judges, juries, and other formal participants in ‘everyday’ trials are brushed aside in high-profile cases where public interest is aroused (not to say inflamed) and where a certain ideological, either-or, must-be-this or must-be-that type of thinking comes to assert substantial influence. I would say that in the instant matter of Catholic clerical-abuse such vigorously intrusive extraneous elements could legitimately be characterized as flooding in.

    1. Only the professional pedophile priest apologist says that pleading guilty doesn't mean he's guilty, and "that is hardly the case at all."

      No man would plead guilty to raping a child if he didn't do it.

      You could argue that priests aren't real men, and that they are social and psychological (and sexual) misfits, never having lived a normal day after they were 17 years old, and they don't have any concept of reality or morals or right and wrong.

      Regardless, Avery couldn't be more guilty. He got lucky that he only got 2-5 years, but hopefully he will be treated like Macrae, and will live the rest of his days tormented by the memories, just like his victims.

    2. "I don’t know if Avery made an unrestricted Guilty plea or if it was through some plea-bargain agreement. The plea-agreement is an instrument used most often by prosecutors to induce some form of ‘successful’ Guilty plea, in order to avoid the difficulties of a trial in a case, many times, that might not succeed for them at trial. It is widely used nowadays – and indeed the vast majority of criminal cases are resolved by plea (so much so that the matter has finally attracted the attention of the higher courts). "

      Avery has pleaded and is serving his sentence. As part of the plea process, the defendant admits to the truth of certain facts in a formal allocution hearing before the judge, including the facts underlying the crime he is pleading to. It is not a civil settlement where the party settles without admitting the truth of the allegations. He didn't enter a nolo plea. Again, your surmise is simply wrong. He did the crime, admitted to the underlying facts, and is doing the time.

      "That is to say, if it came to appear (or be clearly demonstrated) that Avery was accused by an unreliable accuser, then no matter how it was reached, his Guilty plea would come into doubt and he might appear as somebody induced by matters other than actual guilt to enter that plea or accept that plea-bargain."

      No, that is why there is a formal plea hearing. The prosecutor can simply put Avery on and have him admit to the facts he admitted to that form the basis. There is no doubt. If the defendant equivocates than there is no plea. He admitted that there was no coercion etc and that he pleaded guilty because he was actually guilty. Where do you get this stuff?

      "The complexity and more nuanced judgments made by judges, juries, and other formal participants in ‘everyday’ trials are brushed aside in high-profile cases where public interest is aroused "

      Again wrong. The defense team in this case has 2 of the top five criminal defense lawyers in the city. Most routine cases are against over matched PDs. The trial judge has to be on top of her game because these defense guys know how to make a record; she will call balls and strikes or she will get reversed. Trial judges don't want to get reversed in a high profile case.

  5. One might go further and surmise that the prosecution is not only well aware of this but is actually depending on a certain amount of this flooding to float their case to success, carrying it over the legal rocks and shoals posed by such matters as accuser credibility. This is an aspect that is native to many cases of a sex-offense nature, further complicated perhaps by the ‘historical’ nature of the case, the credibility of evidence and so forth.

    I certainly don’t know what the prosecutors know about the strength of the case and about their consequent legal strategy, but any or all these factors might come into play.

    I can’t imagine how anyone not privy to all the aspects can be certain of how matters are or how they will play out. Legal and jurisprudential matters - while seeming clear-cut to the untrained eye – are actually much more malleable. I would liken it to the difference between conducting a military operation on the basis of a large map back at headquarters (or perhaps, say, a commonly accessible roadmap) and conducting it on the actual terrain – with all its particular characteristics and potentials for tactical complexity. Hitler, famously, was moved to honest rage when his field forces couldn’t seem to move over the Russian terrain with the same ease that he swept his hand over the maps on his command table; that the actual terrain was not as easily predictable or manageable as the paper he held under his hand was a concept alien to him.

  6. In the matter of the conspiracy charge – and the article indicated that the defense attorneys were alive to this – there is the question of “mens rea”, the necessity for intent which is a formal element of the crime.

    In the matter of conspiracy in the case at bar, I would imagine that for it to qualify then Msgr. Lynn and any accused priest would have had to had some session where Lynn said to them: Look, what you’re doing is a crime and the way I can help you to continue to commit that type of crime is for me to move you around so that you can keep on doing it and I want to help you to keep committing those crimes and I will help you and here’s how.

    It won’t quite work if Lynn, for example, said to an accused priest: Look, you can get into a lot of trouble and you’re not doing anybody any good and I’m willing to give you a chance again if you promise to knock it off. In that case Lynn did not have the “mens rea” of conspiring to commit a crime.

    Lynn may have failed to report a possible crime (he had no direct and indisputable knowledge of a crime) but he did not in the second example qualify for a Conspiracy charge. Perhaps accessory after the fact, but for some reason that is not the route the prosecution chose to take, going for the more difficult-to-establish Conspiracy.

    My own surmise as to why the prosecution chose this route is that something was driving them to go for it although it was clearly a more tortuous channels with many more legal rocks and shoals. But again, perhaps they figure(d) that the flood of public emotion hopefully elicited by the stories of the accusers would provide enough flood-lift to see the case successfully over the difficulties of proving the elements of the charge that they chose to bring.

    If I am correct, then once again the highly-charged, high-profile case dynamic comes into play.

    One of the more ominous consequences in all of this is that the prosecution must engage in a certain slyness: the weakness of the case they chose to bring is strategized so that it can be frosted-over with emotions that, also ominously, rely on a an aroused public indignation that yet is and must also be not completely informed as to the complexities which that very public’s emotions are strategized to help overcome.

    If I am correct in my surmise, then this is not an easy case at all for the prosecutors.

    In that regard too, the prosecutors would rely on the continually insistent efforts of anybody who will push for maintaining a rigid focus on the stories related by the accusers in testimony and on nothing else. In a legal variant of Oz or - far more disturbingly – a magician at a county fair, the prosecution must keep attention focused on the immediate and specific stories told and on nothing else, lest the ‘audience’ (and in these cases the public is very much cast in that role) start thinking about other aspects and, more dangerously, start thinking for itself about all the possibilities as to how the whole thing is stage-managed.

    There is an element of showmanship to the practice of law and conducting trials which is not in the statute books. I don’t say this happily, but then again, prosecutors (like the Church) have to deal with the crooked timber of humanity. The effort to build with crooked timber never results in a textbook-perfect construction. But then, the Church has been saying that for the most of the past 2000 years.

    1. You clearly don't know the law, or the details of the case, so you are making things up.

      You are, however, being very, very Catholic, doing the opposite of What Jesus Would Do. You do your very best to avoid/distort the truth, try to avoid justice at all costs, and seek any flimsy excuse possible to allow your evil leaders off the hook for child rape and pedophile promotion and protection.

      Meanwhile, Christ would puke about the fact that the Catholic church is masquerading as a Christian church, then paying ridiculous riches to pay the best lawyers to protect proven pedophiles and those who protected pedophile priests instead of protecting victims.

    2. Let's try something here. If you can point out which of my comments justify (or at least prompted in your mind) the idea that I "clearly don't know the law" and "so you are making things up", then perhaps I might be able to clarify matters for you.

      I'd actually like to see if you can manage this little exercise, and I'd like to demonstrate this for the readership as well.

      And perhaps, if you do put out the textual grounding for your assertions, and then I respond, and so forth, then you will get the hang of the useful and competent exchange of ideas. And that will surely be good for you, from everything I can infer reading your comments.

      I would be perfectly willing to help in this, if you can just provide the textual quotes from my comments that justified your assertions. If you can just do that one simple thing.

      Then maybe you can be a good example for others similarly afflicted here on this site or perhaps anywhere else your commenting travels might take you.

      That would be a good thing.

    3. Pertinax and DPierre, Your musings do reveal a profound ignorance of the PA rules of evidence; specifically Rule 611, which permits the trial judge to limit cross examination of a witness likely to avoid needless consumption of time; and to prevent embarrassment or harassment. The Avery victims are not on trial, they are witnesses. Avery has admitted to the allegations against him. The trial court is permitted to preclude the defense team from cross examining the witnesses to suggest that they are lying about abuse that the accused has admitted to. Alternatively, the trial judge can say, "Defense, if you want to cross examine these witnesses on credibility, then I will permit the prosecution to introduce evidence that the witnesses are in fact telling the truth; and the most compelling evidence would be an admission by Avery himself. The court under these circumstances would issue a limiting instruction.

      Now, if I had the time and inclination, I could go on Lexis and find cases that support the judge's ruling but it is very basic evidence. Neither of you have provided one case or rule that suggests that the trial court is wrong. Instead, you just speculate that she is being unfair because it doesn't favor the side that you are cheering for. The fact that you don't know the law is obvious by the fact that you don't cite a Pa Evidence rule or case in support of your ridiculous propositions. If you were at trial, you would have to stand and make an objection. The court would then say, "basis." And then you would have to stand up and say what? Standing there and claiming something is prejudicial is not an objection. Everything that the lawyer does, he hopes prejudices the other side. The test is whether the danger of unfair prejudice outweighs the probative value. PA R. Evid, Rule, 403. Avery's conviction and admission that he abused the victims is very probative of the issue that the defense has raised, which is that the victims are not telling the truth. And, it is not unfairly prejudicial because the defense raised the issue in the first place by a bad faith cross examination. So, the court could under 611, preclude the defense from cross examining them on issues related to the credibility of the allegations; or it could allow the evidence because it is relevant under Rule 401; and not excludable under Rule 403. Understand?

      So the textual quotes from your comments that suggest that you have no clue of PA evidence is the fact that you seriously think that DPierre has any valid point. If you go after a witness who is telling the truth, then the trial judge is free to allow the other side to present evidence that the witness is telling the truth.

      I also find it ironic that catholics would complain about the fairness of a trial. I guarantee that Lynne and company are getting a fairer trial than they would have gotten by Aquinas's Dominican friends during the Inquisition. The church has no real history of fair tribunals on any issue. But really,

    4. Pertinax - Thank you for your contributions.

      As you can see, folks like Neil Allen (most definitely) and 'kopride' (to a lesser degree) do not have the intellectual capacity and decency to post a response to a thoughtful comment without personally attacking the writer.

      @kopride - If you want to talk about 'prejudicial' vs. 'probative' value, Judge Sarmina already threw that standard out the window! How are decades-old cases that did not even involve Msgr. Lynn not prejudicial? What does it say about the strength of the prosecution's case against Msgr. Lynn when it can't even make its argument without trying to inflame the jury with weeks of unadjudicated accusations that are decades old and don't even involve the defendant? Judge Sarmina betrayed her impartiality (again) by allowing these stale cases. This should have been a three-week trial. Instead, it seems it will unnecessarily be months long. And Sarmina's growing list of boneheaded remarks and rulings from the bench only add to the grounds for an appeal for the defense.

      Whenever there is a criminal trial, it is important that both sides feel that they are getting a fair shake. This is obviously not the case in Philly.

      And when you write, "The church (sic) has no real history of fair tribunals on any issue," it shows that you really don't know what you're talking about.


    5. Your guarantees are about as credible as your assertions, as far as I can see.

      The PA rules of evidence, like any rules of evidence, are designed to prevent the wasting of the court's time and to prevent harassment.

      But that hardly is relevant or applicable to a situation in which the credibility of the witness (especially in a case where that witness's accused was for a while a Party to the instant cases' Charges) bears directly on the credibility of evidence and testimony given in the case at bar.

      And where the possible witness called to the case at bar is being involved through the workings of the trial process in the case at bar.

      Hence what is demonstrated here is that in order to grasp the actuality of the situation one must not only be able to Google statutes (although that is always a good first step) but then have a sufficiently informed and trained mind so as to grasp the relevance (or irrelevance) of the quotes statute or rule to the actual case being considered.

      Perhaps this will help here and in the future comments.

  7. As further evidence that the catholic apologist reasoning is flawed, the PA appellate courts have ruled similarly. For example, in Aiello v. SEPTA, a civil litigant obtained an order precluding evidence that he was HIV+/ARC on the grounds that it was overly prejudicial and protected by a statutory privilege. He also did not enter evidence of a wage claim to avoid putting his disability status at issue due to AIDs related illness. But then Aiello opened the door at trial by presenting evidence of good health and future damages with life expectancy tables. In pertinent part, the court stated:

    "after the plaintiff knew from an in limine ruling before trial that no evidence of HIV would be permitted from the defendant. Aiello not only was permitted to conceal, but was possibly permitted to misrepresent, his physical condition before the accident to the jury and then seriously pursue future damages for a permanent injury and a future operation with attendant damages while the defendant after numerous objections was forced to sit in court with a gag order without the ability to reveal the truth to the jury. Such unfairness cannot be sanctioned in the name of prejudice to the jury. Such strangulation of the truth cannot be countenanced."

    So there is clear authority in PA that a party like the defense cannot take advantage of an in limine order, in this case, an order precluding evidence of Avery's conviction on the grounds that it is overly prejudicial, and then introduce evidence by way of cross examination or otherwise that suggests that Avery's accusers are lying.

    And while anybody can claim to be anyone on the internet. I lecture other lawyers on evidence; I have obtained a rare reversal of a jury verdict on the grounds of a similar evidential error by a trial judge; in that case precluding evidence of drug addiction and then letting the other party introduce evidence that he needed narcotics for pain. in other words, KO knows evidence; and it is clear that you don't.

    1. I am making this comment only because you have now claimed now to be a legal lecturer (professor? attorney?) to other lawyers about evidence.

      I was the primary clerk for Justice Holmes in a previous existence - as I recently discovered through recovery of repressed past-life memories.

      There. See how easy it is to make claims?

      If I were to credit your claim, I would look at all of the extant material (your comments on this site) and ask myself if what I was reading was the product of a competent, informed, experienced legal (or merely conceptually-capable) mind, able to engage ideas in open give-and-take.

      Instead, what I have seen is a rigidity of one-note, two-dimensional, fundamentalistic thinking that uses such references as it makes merely as 'proof-texts' for an axe to grind.

      That you have declared yourself implacably and irrevocably hostile to the Church and to religion in toto does not lessen the legitimacy of an inference that you either need some serious self-examination or you are deliberately foisting a fraud upon the readership of this site.

      Have you, sir or madam, no shame? (A historical quotation. Google it.)

    2. Pertinax, email me at, and I will be happy to email you back to substantiate that I have the qualifications that I claim to have.

      This is a blog about a trial. As an attorney, I am permitted to comment on a blog about a trial. Generally, my comments are as a private citizen and I do not claim greater knowledge or expertise for example on a subject like the prevalence of child abuse in the church or nationwide--aside from the ability to use Google and my own understanding of the RCC from 16 years of catholic education, relatives who are members of the catholic clergy, and anecdotal discussions from my friends and acquaintances who are largely catholic or recovering catholics.

      However, when you and DPierre make unsubstantiated claims that the trial court is unfair or making evidentiary rulings that are not supported by the PA Rules of Evidence, I think its appropriate, as someone with far more knowledge on the subject of the rules of evidence than either of you to correct your misstatements. In addition to the aforementioned lecturing, I have tried a large number of cases to verdict and have a very good practical understanding as to how the evidence rules are applied in a courtroom. And as I said before, email me and I will allow the doubting Thomas to put his hands in the wounds and confirm for himself.

      In other words, your allegations that this trial judge is being anything but fair and evenhanded with regard to her evidential rulings are false. The fact that neither you nor DPierre has cited a rule or case to substantiate that the court is in error; and instead, simply accuse me of high blasphemy as if you both were sitting in a liturgical court with power is telling on the issue. It is not a crime to deny the existence of god or the authority of the church. And it doesn't make my opinion about the propriety of the court's rulings suspect.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. "If - for the sake of argument - commenter KOPRIDE is indeed an attorney, then the rigidity and two-dimensionality of the thinking that I have seen demonstrated here is either the product of some alter-ego lurking beneath the surface or else would indicate to me a mindset conducive neither to providing client services nor to teaching other professionals in the fullest sense of that activity. That would be my opinion, although I offer all of my exchanges on this site in support thereof."

      Welcome to the world of lawyers. If the law supports your position, you are rigid in your contention. There really are rules and laws that govern the day. It's not about feelings, beliefs, guesses or surmises. If my client is right, and the law supports his position, i will be absolutely rigid and unflinching in representing my client.

      As for two-dimensional thinking; until we can file a hologram with the judge, we are limited to the two dimensions of the printed page and the sound of our own voice as recorded on a two dimensional transcript. Now I understand that you are concerned with matters outside of the material dimension, perhaps the 4th Dimension?, and even cited Pete Seeger as support for your proposition that astrophysics and religion are roughly equivalent. In response, I can only cite Madonna, "For we are living in a material world and I am a material [boy]" If I am faced with a Daubert motion challenging the admissibility of scientific evidence, I can't just say, "hey miracles happen, maybe god did it," I have to establish that the scientific theory meets certain standards of reliability.

      "I have delivered myself of my opinion as to the quality of your reasoning and comprehensiveness of your grasp of matters, especially when considered in proportion to the strength and universality of your demonstrated reasoning on this site. I make no larger statements unless you give grounds to do so by making claims as to your purported expertise and credentials and your confident denigration of others’."

      If your client is on death row because you as an attorney failed to provide a simple string cite, a self proclamation of sincerity in a brief as an excuse would be poorly received by the court, and little consolation to your client. Just saying.

    5. "Your likening of yourself to Christ Resurrected simply must be allowed to hang out there where you put it."

      If I likened myself to Christ Resurrected, I would be comparing myself to a fictional superhero, or a dead guy. I am neither. I am very much alive and living in the material world.

      "Nor have I ever suggested that "the court is in error" or that the trial judge has (to the best of my limited knowledge of the daily proceedings) been unfair."

      You're right. Your posts in support of DPierre's Struggle against the ignorant fools who dare to believe that Priests have abused children in the past, particularly the priests who pleaded guilty to it, (or as Dpierre would say in German "Mein Kampf,") did not explicitly state that the trial court was wrong. You did suggest that she is being influenced by the high profile nature of the case and or public opinion, which most trial judges would find highly offensive, but you did not specifically state it. Unfortunately, sometimes you are judged by the company you keep and the people you associate yourself with.

  8. Wow! I don't mean to put a damper on free speech or anything...but this is all just a little heady for a simple English teacher. I respectfully submit another historical quotation: "Can't we all just get along?"

    1. If you, as an English teacher, find it "heady", then that would indicate too much conceptualization for your tastes or capabilities, which is OK.

      But what then it the logical sequence that leads to your concluding exhortation? The level and quality of conceptual exchange has nothing to do with "getting along" at all.

      But surely, a review of the extant material of some commenters - with assertions of an almost universal competence and the denigrating remarks about other commenter's competence or motivations - would indicate an inability (or perhaps even a desire) to "just get along".

      To the extent that a forum arranged for the serious conceptual deliberation of a major legal case is indeed rightly characterized as a forum for 'just getting along'.

      For whatever reasons, I would respectfully suggest that you not set yourself up for disappointment.

    2. Pertinax, neither you nor DPierre are taking up the challenge offered by Kopride to cite pertinent case law. That would make your challenges more credible. As it appears now, you could be formulating your hypothesis and assumptions on the basis of watching hundreds of hours of Law and Order.

    3. For what reason or upon what specific points, would you say in your informed opinion, are cites in case law required in these discussions?

      Or perhaps you are under the impression - as you perhaps unwittingly admit - that legal discourse is primarily a simple string of back-and-forth cites?

      Further, if perhaps you had not noticed from your reading of all the comments, or perhaps from any clinical experience you might have (from the one side of the desk or the other), a duelling Google match with certain types is counterproductive as well as being, as I said, legally unnecessary for the discussions that have taken shape here. And, for the record, I do think that the boundary where the clinical begins to apply is rapidly approaching.

      A string of cites is useless if they are not needed for the instant purpose, or if they are irrelevant, or - as I have pointed out in previous comments - if they are wielded by less than skillful minds.

      And again I get the sense that a number of people do think that they know what they're doing in matters legal if they can wield a mouse or watch enough TV (for the record, I don't watch the TV show referenced above, or any legal-themed show).

    4. "Or perhaps you are under the impression - as you perhaps unwittingly admit - that legal discourse is primarily a simple string of back-and-forth cites?"

      If that his impression, he is basically correct. A trial judge doesn't care what the trial attorney "surmises," the attorney's personal opinion about how prejudice and publicity may affect the court's rulings, or the vocabulary and beauty of the attorney's oration. In most cases, the judge wants the trial attorney to simply stand up, state his objection, and cite the rule or case. The adversary then has the same opportunity to argue what rule applies and legal authorities that support his or her position. And if there is a string of citations that supports one side, the court is going to follow the string of law regardless of the intelligence or ability of the trial lawyer. If it is a complex legal matter, the trial judge will ask for a brief and will be far more persuaded by the cited legal authorities than the attorney's colorful arguments or ad hominem attacks on his adversary.

      "A string of cites is useless if they are not needed for the instant purpose, or if they are irrelevant, or - as I have pointed out in previous comments - if they are wielded by less than skillful minds. "

      Again, wrong in the legal sense. A stupid lawyer with the law on his side and a rule or string of cites supporting his position will win that issue. The church's lawyers are very very skillful, but they will lose an issue if the prosecutors have better authority in support of their legal proposition. Trial judges follow the law or they get reversed by the appellate courts.

      "And again I get the sense that a number of people do think that they know what they're doing in matters legal if they can wield a mouse or watch enough TV (for the record, I don't watch the TV show referenced above, or any legal-themed show)."

      Are you speaking of yourself and DPierre who has never done anything in matters legal; or are you speaking of the attorney who provided an email address that you can confirm that he has done more than "wield a mouse" or watch TV.

    5. The "string of cites" comment - most very clearly - refers to discussions carried on in these comments on this site and to conversations among attorneys and no reference whatsoever was made to courtroom or trial procedure.

      Once again, you seem remarkably unable to demonstrate "reading comprehension" (though you have accused - indeed declared almost infallibly - others to be so afflicted on this site).

      A reading of my comments cannot yield a fraction (if even that) of the straw-man positions you construct and then proceed so confidently to 'demolish', if not actually refute.

      Again and again I point out with no animus that if this marked tendency is operative in any of your (purported) professional carryings-on, then I cannot see how this tendency can work anything but mischief.

      And thus I will say this: if for the purposes of argument you are an attorney, then what I have seen demonstrated on this site is thought-process that is palpably deficient in even the most basic comprehension capacity, and that characteristic (amply demonstrated here, as I say) is wedded to a very largely unjustified confidence in making global assertions.

      I would console myself if it were not so.

      And as for the demonstrated capacity for "mouse-terbation" (sorry, but it seems so apt) that I have seen in many otherwise comprehension-challenged persons, especially of a fundamentalistic mindset (religious or secular) ... I am operating on the conclusion that things in this area border (if not teeter) on the clinical and that's not a border I intend to cross.

      As General Sherman rather nicely pointed out heading south from Atlanta, he intended to march THROUGH Georgia, not fight IN Georgia. (Apolgies for the capitals but I can't figure if there's a way to italicize among the posting options here.)

      I can only imagine that to make such presentations as I have seen on this site, in a support-group venue where there are perhaps many who are either wounded or eager to here their favorite mantras 'justified' 'by a lawyer'or someone at least claiming a very substantial education, would simply fuel fires that would be better tamped and somewhat banked.

      Thinking about that, I wonder to what extent that scenario has taken place here and there, involving any such attorneys or persons (over-)confidently asserting their 'knowledge'.

  9. As Avery also admitted in his guilty plea that Lynn knew he was a pedophile and allowed him to remain in the ministry, I think it would be wise for the defense to leave this witness alone. Thank you and goodbye.

  10. As I have said in prior comments, there is great relevance in this case (and in all such cases) of the public perception of the case and Parties. It affects the public mood or sensibility which defense counsel and prosecution must and do take into account; it affects the calculus as to how the handling of the case will affect the public perception of the entire case’s and even the legal system’s credibility and legitimacy; and it also affects the potential jury pool for other similar cases (because potential future jurors may be forming opinions and even following the case through the media).

    And this is especially so in high-profile cases, and this case surely qualifies in that regard.

    If one were to look at not only this site but also sites such as the National Catholic Reporter, the ‘Kansas City Star’ (in a recent article on the latest developments in the SNAP deposition case), the Catholic Forums site, and other similar sites, and if one were to focus on the comments made about the relevant articles, then a couple of points suggest themselves robustly.

    The comments are increasingly evenly-balanced between commenters seeking to see legal principles enforced and the Church reformed and commenters who – I would say – exhibit a more strident and insistent tone and content.

    There is a substantial – perhaps a majority – of that latter category of comments that is characterizable as either a) pro-victim (more properly ‘allegant’) to the exclusion of any other consideration, b) anti-Church in general (either as ex-Catholic or atheist, as they describe themselves), and c) liberal Catholic (as they describe themselves) in the sense that they want the Church to embrace what might be pithily described as ‘democracy, diversity, and regime-change’.

    One sees the continued repetition of the same points, oblivious to further development with those who seek to engage them; an insistent, immediate, and overt hostility to any comments not clearly and forthrightly supportive of their views; a marked tendency to avoid engaging in ideas but simply rather to attack the commenter who arouses their ire; the proof-text type use of references and quotations – when they are deployed – that are merely shoe-horned into somehow supporting their insistent insisted-upon vision with no care or thought as to wider, much less alternative, considerations.

    Overall, one gets the distinct impression of people not wishing to examine, deliberate, or learn – but rather rigidly focused on asserting their own positions and squelching (rather than effectively refuting) any alternative views.

  11. Thus too the insistent demand to simply (and – I would say – simplistically) focus on ‘the Problem’. This inevitably boils down to focusing on the ‘stories’ and giving no further or wider thought; or indeed any thought at all: one need only focus on the ‘stories’, be properly outraged, and let one’s limbic system (rather than the prefrontal cortical capacities) take it from there.

    Equally, the refusal to accept any indication of difference between the ‘historical’ and the ‘current’, specifically the consideration of any effects of extensive reform effected in the past unusually intensive decade or more. Such considerations of reform are dismissed as irrelevant or as lies or as ultimately insufficient or even hopeless because the Church is asserted to be rotten at its core and even that it always has been so and nothing more.

    We have seen all this closer to home (as it were) as well.

    The extent of these types of comments over the various relevant sites indicates to me that such a general mindset as creates them is also more widely prevalent than many might think.
    This goes to the condition of the public sense of these Church-abuse matters, and specifically to the effects of such a mindset upon public opinion and perception which, additionally, must needs be constricted in the amount of information it is given in order to minimize ‘distractions’ (as it were) from the ‘focus on the Problem (which means on the ‘stories’).

    I thought I’d put this ‘out there’ since I haven’t seen it all put in one place before (although I am not claiming a universal knowledge of what’s out on the web).

    It offers food for thought as to how such dynamics would, for example, impact the prosecution’s calculations when developing its trial strategy. And it goes to just how ‘fair’ a trial might be expected when elements such as this are widely loosed upon the public.

    1. Pertinax, I will respond to your global question and explain the frustration of the strident. As a general proposition, religious ideas and beliefs based upon faith cannot be substantiated scientifically or withstand any scientific scrutiny. By definition, you have to accept the propositions "on faith." And while faith-based people are almost insulted by the challenge to "prove" their religious beliefs to a scientific certainty, they impose an incredibly high standard of proof on others, particularly when the scientific theory, data, or conclusion conflicts with their faith. By way of example, religious people claim wide spread bias against religion in the media. In other words, they claim that people should doubt contemporaneous written reports and doubt the data because the authors or writers are biased or prejudiced. But faith based people derive authority based upon writings and scriptures from thousands of years ago; and expect scientifically inclined people to accept the propositions contained therein as absolute truth.

      In other words, the New York Times article on Priest abuse from last year is false and biased, but 2000 year old letters from Paul are absolute true propositions of what god wants or doesn't want people to do regardless of the bias of the authors, editors, and translators of the New Testament. And indeed, the old vague musings of Paul should be accepted as god's truth on subjects like homosexuality; irrespective of the potential biases of Paul, the editors, and translators. Faith based people essentially say treat any fact or information contrary or negative about our faith with the utmost skepticism and contempt, but accept our teachings without dissent or disagreement. Accept transubstantiation without any evidence but deny the Grand Jury report which is based upon sworn testimony.

      A great example are fundies who want to point out the scientific gaps in Darwin's theory of evolution as proof of their theory of creation, which does not include any science whatsoever, and is contradicted by basic archeology and geology. And in this case, catholic apologists take every allegation or criticism of the institution as potentially false or biased, or motivated by prejudice; but view the church's motivations as being pure and documented abuse isolated unless it is proven to a degree of certainty that is simply unattainable. The church's moral teachings are infallible but its day to day conduct is anything but.

      If you are a skeptic, be a skeptic. I don't accept anything without data which I will analyze with a reasonable degree of certainty since 100% certainty is usually unattainable. But if you are a skeptic, then you can't be skeptical of everything except one particular area that you decide can be established solely by faith. Then, you are not a skeptic, you are just a hypocrite. Because you can't demand a high level of proof about data or ideas you don't want to believe in; but accept ideas or data you do want to believe in without analysis.

    2. To make response fully to the foregoing would be a task that I don't think would have much success.

      But a few points:

      The fact that religious belief cannot be validated scientifically is a truism of the most primary sort. Religion deals with a non-material dimension that is not accessible to science. Then again, reading current general astrophyscial hypotheses about the universe and it beginnings or current operations or future developments is not unlike reading religious beliefs. Funny how the night moves.

      "Faith-based people" covers a lot of ground and is, I would say, far too vague a category to make adequate analysis and ground universal assertions. The range of that term covers a spectrum that extends from backwoods fundamentalists to devout Catholics and everything in-between.

      Catholic teaching has no reason, certainly, to be "insulted" since it claims a difference in dimensions which, if its boundaries be properly observed, separates the reality of faith and the reality of scientific investigation of the material dimension.

      "Scientifically inclined people" is equally nebulous: if you mean people inclined to use the Scientific Method in assessing carefully the realities of this material dimension, then the Church, certainly, does not require them to accept faith-propositions as "absolute truth". (In that regard, I note that the Vatican has recently said that the existence of extra-terrestrials would not impact adversely the tenets of Catholic faith.)

      I am not sure to which of the numerous NYT articles you refer, but the bias would be in terms of violating genuine Scientific Method (recall my distinction between a Study and a survey, for example) and not a matter of the NYT violating the tenets of Catholicism - which that corporate entity is under no obligation to observe in the first place.

      Scriptural interpretation of 2000 year-old documents is admittedly highly complex, as is the study and interpretation of any ancient documents: so much is not known and the material is patient of many different scholarly opinions. But as the ground for belief, the Church for 2000 years has claimed the right to claim primacy of spiritual interpretation of them. Otherwise Catholicism becomes an orchestra without a conductor and without a score, each player sawing or banging or tootling away at the melody s/he feels would sound nice.

      Curiously, I might add, the complexity of looking at 'historical' material is precisely overlooked or ignored in the instant matter of Catholic sex-abuse allegations. Funny how the night moves.

      I would seriously question the viability or reliability of assuming a substantive conflation of the Cathlic view and that of "fundies" and of then making assertions based thereupon.

      I would, lastly, say that the gravamen of my concerns over so much of your presentation on this site is precisely that it violates the spirit and the letter of Scientific Method, demonstrating instead what is indeed a rather 'fundamentalist' (albeit in the secular mode) disregard for careful reasoning and for the humility necessary to treat one's opinions or feelings as only a hypothesis and not as the substance of some comprehensive and indubitable illumination.

      I appreciate the opportunity afforded by bringing the Scientific Method back to mind.

    3. "The fact that religious belief cannot be validated scientifically is a truism of the most primary sort. Religion deals with a non-material dimension that is not accessible to science."

      So its like the Twilight Zone, i.e. fiction.

      "Then again, reading current general astrophyscial hypotheses about the universe and it beginnings or current operations or future developments is not unlike reading religious beliefs. Funny how the night moves."

      No astrophysics make specific observations of the universe through very powerful scientific equipment and make calculations using published theorems that must be peer reviewed and proved or disproved. If there are gaps in their theories or observations, they do not just assume that there is an all powerful creator that started it all. In other words, a scientist continues to look for data to answer the questions that cannot be answered with current scientific knowledge or technology. A religious person simply asks other people to accept on faith that there was an all powerful being that created it all, without supplying any scientific basis for how a being could create the vast universe or the more difficult problem of how a being capable of creating the universe sprung spontaneously to existence. And there is no peer review or formula that can be proved or reviewed from religion. In fact, each religious group is incredibly confident that the other religion is wrong.

      "The range of that term covers a spectrum that extends from backwoods fundamentalists to devout Catholics and everything in-between. "

      Right, a fundie believes that the world was created in 7 days; a devout catholic believes that a priest can perform a magic trick of turning a stale cracker into the flesh of a long dead jew-- who exactly is the backwoods guy on this spectrum?

      "then the Church, certainly, does not require them to accept faith-propositions as "absolute truth"."

      Well, you are a cafeteria catholic. The RCC absolutely believes that the moral teachings of the Magisterium are the infallible truth; and the Magisterium does not utilize the scientific method.

    4. "I am not sure to which of the numerous NYT articles you refer, but the bias would be in terms of violating genuine Scientific Method (recall my distinction between a Study and a survey, for example) and not a matter of the NYT violating the tenets of Catholicism - which that corporate entity is under no obligation to observe in the first place. "

      The NYT follows generally accepted journalism practices. Scripture doesn't follow any practices. It is second hand hearsay that went through many authors, editors, versions, and translators; and is usually vague enough that it can be interpreted in numerous ways, or simply characterized as metaphor or allegory if facts, archeology, or science discredits its assertions. So ancient scripture must be taken as truth, but journalism must be viewed with skepticism. And scripture neither relies upon a survey, study, poll, or science.

      "Scriptural interpretation of 2000 year-old documents is admittedly highly complex, as is the study and interpretation of any ancient documents: so much is not known and the material is patient of many different scholarly opinions."

      So does palm reading, alchemy, and astrology. Analyzing the star charts to figure out what will happen is very complex. And none of the scholarly opinions are tested against the scientific method.

      "Otherwise Catholicism becomes an orchestra without a conductor and without a score, each player sawing or banging or tootling away at the melody s/he feels would sound nice. "

      And that's a worse outcome than a Cardinal orchestrating a cover up of sexual abuse spanning decades with the assistance of lawyers? So at least you agree that the priests involved in this case were acting under the supervision and control of a single conductor.

      "Curiously, I might add, the complexity of looking at 'historical' material is precisely overlooked or ignored in the instant matter of Catholic sex-abuse allegations. Funny how the night moves."

      Actually, the prosecutors are doing a nice job using the long-hidden "historical" material which was long kept hidden in the AOP's secret archives. I assume that those highly paid defense lawyers will put that evidence in perspective.

      "I would seriously question the viability or reliability of assuming a substantive conflation of the Cathlic view and that of "fundies" and of then making assertions based thereupon. "

      Right, because your faith is better than their faith. And I assume that your faith is better than muslims and jews--because those folks are misguided. You could even make an argument that those misguided folks might be better off if you forced them to accept your truth by force. Any history of that in the "historical" record of this 2000 year old institution with the primacy over the truth.

      "I would, lastly, say that the gravamen of my concerns over so much of your presentation on this site is precisely that it violates the spirit and the letter of Scientific Method, demonstrating instead what is indeed a rather 'fundamentalist' (albeit in the secular mode) disregard for careful reasoning and for the humility necessary to treat one's opinions or feelings as only a hypothesis and not as the substance of some comprehensive and indubitable illumination. "

      in modern legal writing, we are taught to write plainly without non sequitors, pretentious language, legalese, or awkward modifiers. Basically, you build your argument around your active verb, delete all unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and state plainly and precisely what you mean. By any reasonable measure, that quoted sentence above is a complete abortion. If by reversing Roe v. Wade, abortions like that would be banned, I might be in favor of it.

    5. Kopride, I have read a great deal of pertinax's writings on other sites, and I couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't one of the translators for the 'ahem' new translation of the Mass. Your last paragraph is wonderful.

    6. The foregoing extended comments on matters theological is more familiar to high-school religion teachers, who are charged with the task of dealing with adolescent minds.

      I will thus leave it to someone more competent in that line who might wish to undertake the task. I've done as much as I could.

    7. I've just read Pertinax's blog as well. In Pertinax's world, victims of sexual assault are really just experiencing "sense offenses" which, in most cases are either false, attorney fraud, or part of a radical feminist conspiracy. One post defends Paul Shanley, the convicted pedophile and former Chaplain of the North American Man Boy Love Associaton, as being the victim of unfair legal process. Google "Sense Offenses" and you will find his blog containing pages and pages of odd ramblings on what he perceives as victims rights run amok with literally no comments by readers. The whole gestalt being an angry white male screaming his victimhood into the silence. Initially, I thought he was a priest but now I am leaning more to a convicted sex offender that had to register on state registry, or a father's rights guy that lost custody of his kids. The opinions are very similar to the rants of those two groups.

    8. From Pertinax's blog:

      "I want to go over the January 15, 2010 Opinion of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in the case of Paul Shanley, former priest accused of assorted sexual charges against male youngsters, in which recovered or repressed memories played a great part."

      No, Paul Shanley is not just a former priest accused of assorted sexual charges. The AOB's own archives contained evaluations where Shanley admitted at least 9 encounters with young boys and the church itself concluded the allegations were true. He was the chaplain for NAMBLA,

      From the much discredited NYT which discussed the records released by the AOB:

      "The documents, which include letters and internal archdiocese memos, show that the Boston officials received the first of about 15 complaints about Father Shanley in 1967, from another priest who provided the names and phone numbers of three boys whom he said Father Shanley had taken to a secluded cabin in the woods.

      And the documents show that in the 1970's, the Boston Archdiocese received information that Father Shanley was giving public and impassioned defenses of pedophilia, including comments at what was apparently the formative meeting in Boston of the North American Man-Boy Love Association in 1979.

      In another speech, in 1977, according to a letter to the archdiocese from a woman in the audience, Father Shanley, who at the time was in charge of the archdiocese's ministry to alienated youths, discussed pedophilia. In the letter, he is quoted as saying, ''The adult is not the seducer -- the 'kid' is the seducer, and further the kid is not traumatized by the act per se, the kid is traumatized when the police and authorities 'drag' the kid in for questioning.''"

      Really, this is one of the causes that Pertinax is so upset about?

    9. Pertinax's blog is also directed to members of the SO community, which careful reading makes clear is the "sex offender" community:

      "The sex-offender community will recall that it is precisely this problem that the so-called Containment Model of sex-offender management seeks to solve by using a lie-detector as part of the post-release ‘management’ regimen: a ‘managed’ sex-offender will have his reports to the parole officer and therapist (and victim advocate) subjected to a lie-detector. Alas, it’s considered bad clinical form to use a lie-detector on those asserting ‘repressed memories’, and courts don’t even trust the things enough to allow their results into evidence. But it’s the very thing to use on sex-offenders."

      In other words, Pertinax is most likely a member in good standing of the SO community or Sex Offender community.

      "Shanley’s Appeal raised four points, only two of which are of significant concern to the SO community, as far as I can make out: that the trial judge erred in allowing testimony related to “repressed memory” and that the prosecutor made improper arguments during her closing."

      So, probably Pertinax, I probably will cease my exchange with someone who considers themselves a noble spokesman of the Sex Offender community. Other than to ask the name of your parole or probation officer?

  12. I feel bad for Ralph Cipriano who's done a superb job reporting this case. His blog has been taken over by pedophile apologists who cannot summon up a single word of empathy for children. One of them even supposes that a man would plead guilty to rape of a child and go to prison for it even though he's innocent. These commenters do illustrate, however, the difficult job of the prosecutors in trying to nail down people who are so deep in denial.

  13. A brief observation on process here.

    The peanut-gallery is being reinforced, a remarkable coincidence if such it be.

    The value of this late-breaking development is, I would say, in realizing the type of dynamics as well as the level of mentality and mindset which predominate in certain quarters. Yet as I have been saying, this is a reality whose role is greatly under-appreciated within circles that prefer to spin themselves to the public as mature angels of light.

    1. "The value of this late-breaking development is,"

      Are you talking about the late-breaking development that Lynne's lawyers have taken the position that because the Cardinal appointed even known pedophiles as assistant pastors, there is nothing reasonable that Lynne could have done to protect anyone. In other words, the conspiracy began at the very top, and Lynn was powerless to do anything to protect these kids. Read Ralph's latest post. So, are you spinning yourself as an angel of light to protect poor Msg. Lynne from the evil Cardinal who forced him to appoint known pedophiles to parishes? Because that is the reality that this case is turning to. Not your position that abuse is being sensationalized; but Lynne's position that he had no choice but to do the Cardinal's bidding and place known admitted pedophiles back into the parishes.

  14. Petinax,

    What were you convicted of that entitled you to become the spokesman for the Sex Offender Community?

  15. Ah well now. Rather than keep to matters demonstrated here, we shall proceed to the blog.

    Fair enough, although it is clear just what certain minds have already - nicely - demonstrated what they do with factoids.

    The "SO community" is the courtesy term for all of those concerned for the effect of recent changes in sex-offense law and - should the rather substantial corpus of material actually be read - how those changes reflect ominous derangements in the larger national sense of Law.

    While I place no value on assertions made on the web, I can respond that I am not a member of that 'community' through any conviction.

    My concern has been that the general run of sex-offense law in the past 20 years has been - whatever its good intentions - a source of introducing profoundly deranging influences into Law as it exists in the American political and legal universe, and indeed reflects much more the dynamics of the Nazi era 'emergency law' mentality and the Soviet 'revolutionary' law mentality.

    My concerns are thus larger than the specific "SO community" although it encompasses them since these ominous legal-philosophical derangements (whatever their good intentions) will have inevitable and ineluctable consequences for the integrity of the Framing Vision and for American law if they are not remedied.

    Thus I examine cases of relevance, specifically from the point of view of how the derangements in current sex-offense law impact the integrity of the Law as it derives from the Framing Vision. My intent being to demonstrate that if one adopts philosophical assumptions from an alien political universe, such adoption cannot but have effects on the American legal universe as well.

    That being said, I invite the readership to take careful note of how (as has already been somewhat demonstrated in recent comments by various commenters) certain mentalities will process the information that I have a blog.

    And since I make no profit from the blog, I certainly invite one and all to peruse it, and perhaps if their reading comprehension is up to it, derive some benefit from it.

    My 2009 mini-series on the 1995 'Poritz' decision, and the subsequent Supreme Court decisions flowing from it, might be of especial interest since after a period of almost 20 years, one can see how those courts' reasoning has played out.

    As for the kazoo-mentality that would revel in making all manner of adolescent if not primitive conclusions more appropriate to a high-school cafeteria at noontime, well ... to paraphrase the purportedly fictional character of Jesus, "the challenged you always have with you".

    So much remains to be done. As LBJ said: "Let us continyuh".

    My thanks to those who provided entree for me to mention the blog. I frankly never would have presumed to mention it on my own.

  16. Well, what they hey? I will add the following, although I apologize to the general readership for stating what may well seem the obvious.

    Some of the recent comments – made upon the discovery of my blog – provide note-perfect demonstrations of the concerns I have voiced continually in my own comments on this site.

    Specifically, that I (or anybody who doesn’t follow the party-line) is “defending pedophiles” (larded over with the added frosting of presuming that I too must be such a person).

    To most simply and vividly capture my general concern, substitute ‘Jews’ or ‘kulaks’ after that ‘defending’ in the above phrase. That is the core of my concern: that ‘emergency law’ and ‘revolutionary law’ (embraced – willy or nilly and generally without attribution – critical legal studies and other recently-elaborated ‘philosophies’ of law) must necessarily deform jurisprudential and even legislative integrity as envisioned by the Framers, especially in the creation of the inevitable “Necessary Enemy”. These are dynamics that have proven lethal wherever they have been adopted in the world’s political (and legal) systems.

    Also, the note-perfect demonstration of scanning through what must be over 1300 pages of text in that blog to find my comments (from the above point of view) on “Fr. Shanley”. Whom, but of course, I am accused in the comments of “defending”.

    My concern was not with Shanley’s particulars as it was with the dynamics of the case as it played out, and how those dynamics reflect eerily and ominously the ‘principles’ from historical phenomena that brought so much wrack and ruin to the polities that embraced them.

    Too much to think about for certain mindsets, no doubt. As I have been saying on this site all along.

    Should anyone find forthright indication that I am “defending” anything in the blogs – aside from the Framing Vision and the first principles of American law that flow from it – kindly bring it to my attention.

    By the same token, I am not ‘defending’ anybody in the case at bar. I am examining the trial from the larger point of view that I have outlined (at the very useful invitation of certain commenters) here today.

    And while it may be superfluous, may I ask the readers’ indulgence to point out something that is no doubt to many already rather obvious: that leading the charge in the adolescent-primitive race to the keypad was none other than a commenter who has loudly held and continues to holds him/herself forth as being the very acme and epitome of professional competence and comprehension in matters legal, if not indeed a highly respectable and accomplished trial attorney and shaper of legal minds.

    If the Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists and assorted hooligans riding the crest of political influence and even power across recent eruptions in world history were possessed of anything, it was a lumpish, bullying and demonstrably primitive animus, nonetheless robust for all its evanescent and temporary strut across the stage of events.

    But it was this animus that animated and – to use the term in its Thomistic sense – ‘informed’ such lethal and repellent regimes. And, further, that the very robustness of their self-presentation seduced or over-awed weaker spirits – not so primitive by nature – into accepting that baleful but brassy influence. To their great cost and detriment.

  17. Few Germans in 1933 imagined that they were approving and cheering a future that would do them and the world so much damage. But the dynamics – politically and legally – were ineluctably set in train shortly thereafter by the first Enabling Law and, quickly thereafter, the first changes in jurisprudence and jurispraxis. And things only continued to get worse.

    These dynamics were by their very nature hostile to law as envisioned in the West’s long development of it. Yet so many were lulled by the honest concern about the problems which the ‘reforms’ were claimed to be designed to solve, and so many more were enlisted to acquiesce and ignore any misgivings they might have had by the assurance that the ‘emergency’ was so very great that any concern for traditional Western legal principles was ‘weak’ and ‘obstructionist’ and ‘unpatriotic’ and – before too long – a sign that one defended (fill in the blank).

    As Martin Niemoller ruefully noted: First they came for the trade unionists, but I wasn’t a trade unionist so I did not speak up; then they came for the Communists, but I wasn’t a Communist so I did not speak up; then they came for the Jews but I wasn’t a Jew so I did not speak up; then they came for me and there was nobody left to speak up.

    The same dynamics are far too evidently operative in the sex-offense-emergency legislation of the past 20 years, and have both mutated and migrated into other areas of national affairs. Worse, they have come by an increasing number of citizens to be seen as a good thing. Which, on the surface, they might well be.

    But beneath the surfaces, and in terms of the consequences they inevitably breed, such is not the case.

    When I look at the case at bar – and a high-profile case it is indeed – I am looking with all of this in mind.

    A classically liberal education, sustained beyond the first diploma and degree, will have that effect, if it is allowed to.

    If the Parties Defendant in this case have committed crimes, then that’s as may be and it will out in the end. But my concern is for the vitally fundamental issues that serve to derange societies and cultures and – most specifically – American society and culture at their very roots and in their most basic principles and in their Law.

    This reality hovers over the case at bar to the extent that is rendered high-profile precisely by derangements in the public mind inflamed by – I would say – motives exterior and ulterior to the crimes themselves. While the crimes may well be real (and surely the practices and attitudes of many clerics at all ranks left very much to be desired) yet those could be dealt with in a trial pure and simple.

    But this trial possesses the queasy hallmarks of what in other times and places was called a ‘show trial’, and that most surely is not a sign of health in a Western legal system.

    Thus my concern for clear and careful and serious and sober thinking, as well as for a larger comprehension of what is going on. To ignore those things, I believe, is to allow certain darknesses to ripen their poisonous fruit under the guise of efficient and ‘strong’ justice and the ‘emergency’ of the crimes (at this point alleged to have been) committed.

    I recall for you the final comment in his own defense made to Spencer Tracy’s American judge at Nuremberg by Burt Lancaster’s convicted German judge in the film “Judgment at Nuremberg” from half a century ago: looking over how the German legal system had bit by bit been ‘turned to the dark side’ in its efforts to become more efficient and useful in its defense of the Volk, the German judge said “It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this”.

    No one – in my opinion – should be light-hearted about what is going on in Philadelphia. No matter how it may turn out.

  18. At the very least, Pertinax is a devout pedophile apologist like Dave Pierre from themediareport, where Dave is actually trying to sell books about how innocent these pedophile priests are, and this is a trying time in that business.

    More likely, since Pertinax knows and defends Paul Shanley, one of the first members of one of the first pedophile organizations, called NAMBLA, he is more likely to be a pedophile priest. I'm guessing he is actually Fr Gordon Macrae, who is a friend of Dave Pierre and themediareport, who has a fondness for Greek mythology in his blog, and who is trying to get himself out of jail after he pleaded guilty to having sex with 3 of the 10 known children who accused him.

    This would also explain why he says that innocent men plead guilty to child rape crimes all the time.

    Pertinax also has a lot of time in prison to work on his blog and comment on this one.

  19. Most of the "followers" on Pertinax's blog are convicted sex offenders. Some list their status as registered sex offenders or when you look at the other blogs they are following they are also related to convicted. The blog itself is directed to the sex offender community. In America, you are free to start and sustain a blog and express outrage over how pedophiles, rapists, and sex offenders are treated; and cast aspersions on all victims; but that doesn't mean that folks won't question your attachment to that issue. And while civil liberties groups like the ACLU do defend unpopular causes, they don't devote blogs to attacking the victims. Pertinax is no civil libertarian with a wide interest in civil rights. In fact with the exception of pedophiles, rapists, and sex offenders, he seems to feel women, minorities, and other traditional victims of civil right's violations are suffering from "mania."

    Again, Pertinax's blog itself is a very strange "Alice in Wonderland" rant where the world is upside down. Where all victims are frauds or pawns, women are radical feminist, and even admitted convicted pedophiles were wrongly convicted. There is not one shred of empathy for the victims. Equally importantly, it is torturous reading. You think his comments here are rambling and incoherent, he has two separate 5000 word posts defending poor NAMBLA chaplain, Paul Shanley.

    I have no inclination or intention to engage directly with Pertinax. Indeed, I feel embarrassed that I even engaged with him in the first place or gave him any attention.

    1. Given the mechanics of posting, what I referred to in my own preceding comment as the immediately foregoing comment turns out not to be so. My prior comment referred to commenter NEILALLEN’s bit.

      Now to this KOPRIDE material.

      I have never tried to determine the identity of any ‘followers’ of my blog essays, and didn’t even know that it was possible to do so to the extent that one could assert that “most of the ‘followers’ on Pertinax’s blog are convicted sex offenders”. In fact, I don’t believe it is possible.

      Which – who can be surprised? – reduces once again a KOPRIDE assertion to something even far less appetizing.

      Of what conceivable relevance it would be to a mature, competent, and professional mind is very hard to establish. But then again, that is not – I have been saying – what we have been dealing with here.

      But I have been giving some thought to a certain aspect of all of this material. It has struck me as an odd trope – and not restricted to commenters on this site – that one could be accused of being “paid” to make comments that do not agree with the party-line, as some interests might wish it to be enforced. Where, I had thought to myself, would anybody even get such an idea.

      Then, catalyzed by the series of comments from last night, several dots suggested a connection: Why, if s/he were an attorney, had KOPRIDE not simply given his/her name right here on the site, instead of trying to inveigle me (‘seduce’ would perhaps be a bit excessive) to email him/her at a private email address so as to be given ‘proof’ of KOPRIDE’s purported status as an accomplished and successful attorney?

      Is KOPRIDE not an attorney? Or – even more interesting - Is KOPRIDE an attorney whose connection somehow to the instant matters is something s/he would not like to expose?

      Surely the presentations made on this site are not indicative – as I have been saying – of a competent and rational and logical legal mindset.

      Their focus on the narrow aspect of statutes, various Rules and text-book completely ignore the larger context I have been trying to establish for what – I have been saying – is a larger context for this case. Such expansion of context is like increasing the number of pixels in a television screen: the more pixels, the higher the resolution and thus the clearer and sharper the picture. Always a desiderandum in accurate comprehension and examination.

      Unless, of course, one is actually working (modo ulterioro) toward precisely the opposite.

      All of KOPRIDE’s presentation on this site, it seems to me, has worked toward narrowing (and controlling) the view of this trial.

  20. Is it possible – I asked myself – that KOPRIDE’s rather extraordinarily focused (to put it politely) pressure toward such an end is the result of his/her having been ‘sent’ to this site to ensure that the party-line is followed and any dissent or deviation from it somehow discredited or squelched?

    This trial, after all, is high-profile and several non-Party interests have a great deal riding on it.

    Such a possibility would go no small way to explaining a presentation that can largely be characterized as forcefully and rigidly insistent. And not only on matters of law or on interpretations, but also on the general discussive framing of the trial. And the whole joined to a genuinely and forcefully derogatory stance toward any differing approaches and an effort to reduce them to ridicule.

    All of this would serve a purpose remarkably congruent with the general advocacy-type insistence that everyone focus on the ‘stories’ and not on anything larger or wider.

    I have no way of knowing if KOPRIDE is some sort of agent along those lines, or if s/he is merely a particularly … extraordinary … type of personally-dedicated commenter. But the thought has occurred to me.

    Similarly, having both a) failed to silence me and b) not impressed me into submission with assertions either conceptual or credential, KOPRIDE may indeed wish to find a way to disengage. Or – in an alternative – having eagerly grasped the fact that I have a blog (approaching 200 essays which I doubt s/he has read, let alone ‘comprehended’) s/he has – as s/he has demonstrated above – quickly sought to reduce me to ridicule or incredibility by the usual suspect methods of false characterizations and ‘guilt’ by association and inferences about me personally … anything, in fact, except engage the ideas which I not only have put into those essays but also put rather briefly but clearly in last night’s comments extant above.

    Ideas concerning legal philosophy and their connection to the most profound realities of national principles – matters which should rightly engage the attentions of any practicing attorney or legal educator. Especially in these ominous times for the rule of law and philosophy of Law in this country.

    S/he now reports that s/he will disengage. A felicitous prospect that I will do nothing to prevent. And let the record show that I have never sought any more direct connection to KOPRIDE than is necessary to conduct commenting on this site. And let the record further show that it was not I who sought to initiate a personal email exchange.

    Whether s/he chooses to do so because s/he needed an excuse to break off a game s/he was not controlling, or whether s/he simply considers that the fact of my blog – larded rottenly with such gambits as he has chosen to deploy – have now reduced either me to baffled and cowed silence or the readership to a general disinterest in my further commenting, or indeed whether s/he has made here yet another assertion that will prove to be other-than-true … we shall see.

    I will say that what began as a simple desire to bring a larger and deeper but vitally relevant comprehension to this trial has taken some interesting turns indeed.

    But as a reader might infer from my comments made last night, none of this is unfamiliar in the context of legal and political and cultural history. Although its appearance here was unexpected. As is so much in life. Funny indeed how the night moves.

    So much remains to be done.


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