Loading
Bishop Lori alleges media ‘intervention’ in court decision to unseal abuse records
Bishop William Lori
Bishop William Lori

.- The Diocese of Bridgeport is defending its legal efforts to keep thousands of documents from settled abuse lawsuits from being unsealed by a Connecticut Supreme Court decision. The diocese’s bishop has alleged that a judge’s apparent conflict of interest and “media self-interest” may have resulted in an unjust decision.

Last week the Connecticut Supreme Court voted 4-1 to unseal more than 12,600 legal documents from 23 lawsuits settled in 2001, the Hartford Courant says. The diocese reacted with a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed” with the decision. Bishop Lori pointed out on his blog that during the litigation claims of the 1990s victims and their attorneys had access to the records now under seal.

“In 2001, the claims were settled, and the court records, including documents under seal, were set to follow the standard procedure for all claims settled before trial and be destroyed.”

The bishop charged that the secular press “intervened” and demanded access to the files “well after the legal time limit.”

“In a decision replete with anti-Catholic Church rhetoric, the trial judge actually invented an entirely new procedure to accommodate this after-the-fact request from the press,” Bishop Lori added.

He said the Appellate Court of Connecticut “appropriately” overturned the first trial’s decision, but he reported that the state Supreme Court reversed the decision and remanded it to trial judge Jon M. Alander, who ruled against the diocese.

Bishop Lori alleged conflicts of interest could have affected that decision, saying that Judge Alander stood on a judicial committee reviewing the issue of press access to court records. Another member of the committee was a reporter from the Hartford Courant, a party in the case against the Diocese.

The bishop then cited Connecticut Supreme Court Justice William J. Sullivan’s dissent in the case, which said a person of ordinary intelligence and experience “would have reason to question Judge Alander’s impartiality in the present case.”

Justice Sullivan also pointed out that the Hartford Courant and the New York Times had “reported extensively” on the cases from January 1993 until their settlement. The justice said the papers knew about the sealing orders and never sought to challenge the sealing orders while the cases were active.

In Justice Sullivan’s opinion, this fact belied the Supreme Court majority’s argument that access to the documents was sought “to provide a more complete understanding of the judicial process.”

A majority of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s sitting justices rejected the argument that Judge Alander should have recused himself because of possible conflicts of interest.

“The court ruled that just because Alander was a member of the task force did not mean that he could not be fair and impartial,” the Hartford Courant summarized. “It also ruled that just because one of the other members of the judicial task force was a reporter from The Courant did not mean that Alander had a conflict.”

Bishop Lori’s post continued:

“Sadly, the history of this case has been about access by the secular media to internal Church documents of cases more than 30 years ago to suggest, unfairly, that nothing has changed.”

The bishop said the diocese is reviewing its legal options.

"We appreciate that emotions run high on this topic," the diocese said in its statement, adding that its “primary objection to the decision concerns judicial fairness, and the fundamental right of an individual or organization to fair adjudication in any legal proceeding."

The court’s decision becomes official on June 2. The diocese has at least 10 days to file further legal action, which could include asking the Supreme Court to rehear the case with the entire court present, rather than just five members.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
24

Liturgical Calendar

April 24, 2014

Thursday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:35-48

Gospel
Date
04/24/14
04/23/14
04/22/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:11-26
Gospel:: Lk 24:35-48

Saint of the Day

Easter Sunday »

Saint
Date
04/24/14
04/22/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:35-48

Homily
Date
04/24/14
04/23/14
04/22/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: