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At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Card. Stritch) stood over me and said, "Stop babbling about what Father Horne did to you." It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Now, I babble. - ke
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in 2009 our ongoing coverage of the pedophile epidemic in the Catholic Church will be at City fAngels5. in 2010 at CityofAngels8

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Curious recusal of Justice Panelli may slow down, but will not stop plaintiffs in LA from pursuing pedophile priest confidential files per 7-07 orders

By Kay Ebeling

Early next month LA Superior Court will kick restart the process of releasing priests’ files to plaintiffs from civil cases settled last year against Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese. In an October 8th hearing plaintiffs ask Judge Emilie Elias to appoint a new referee to replace Edward A. Panelli, who suddenly recused himself last June. “Come October 8th we're going to have a name. Either we'll agree to a referee, or the judge will appoint one,” said Tony DeMarco.

Panelli’s recusal “very much took us by surprise,” DeMarco said. The plaintiff attorney from Kiesel Boucher Larson informed the court of Panelli’s recusal in a July hearing. “Defense counsel represented that they got a commitment from Panelli,” DeMarco said.

Did the Defendants pull the rug out from under you? I asked.

“(Panelli’s Recusal) calls into question whether or not archdiocese attorneys got the commitment from him at all,” DeMarco said, saying Panelli’s name was used continually during the negotiation process, for more than a year during pre and post settlement discussions between plaintiff and defense attorneys. DeMarco stopped short of accusing defense attorneys of anything untoward.

“I think it’s one of those things we will be judging down the road,” DeMarco said. “If the defendants try to utilize the recusal to create more delay, then I would have a strong belief in that.”

We'd Be Where We Are With San Diego Now. . .

DeMarco added: “When Panelli sent in the recusal it set us back awhile, because for one thing, I was doing hearings on production of documents in San Diego as well as LA. We just got the order in San Diego.

“We’d be in that position now in LA absent this recusal,” DeMarco said.

Production of documents and Panelli’s name are in print throughout the settlement agreement, for example in Paragraph 19:

“This is a general consensual reference for the purpose of permitting Justice Panelli to make final and binding determinations with respect to whether any documents that have been subpoenaed by any party to this settlement Agreement or otherwise, or were contained within the Personnel File relating to any accused offender to any of the lawsuits listed in Exhibit B shall be produced to the particular plaintiff in a particular settled action for public disclosure.”

Another reference to production of documents from Paragraph 19:

“The parties agree that the term ‘personnel file’ includes the personnel file, the confidential file, and any other documents, if any documents maintained by the Settling Defendants with respect to any accused offender in the particular Settled Action.”

And from the transcript of the settlement hearing in front of Judge Haley Fromholz July 17, 2007.

Cardinal Mahony's chief defense attorney

J. Michael Hennigan said:

“The essential terms are in the agreement and we do have a protocol that will result in the release of documents. And we have reached a protocol with respect to those that may be controversial about how to resolve those in the same way that we did with pre and post settlements that went through this court some time ago.”

Me, I think we are seeing another tap dance by attorneys for the LA Archdiocese:

I think they think

That because they've paid out a large settlement to so many plaintiffs,

That this little issue of release of documents

Will --




"Release of priest files is just a problem that will disappear," daydreams the Cardinal as he sips his cherry wine.

Just like they made the pedophile problem go away by transferring predator priests from one parish to another parish.

The Fight For Release of Files Will Not End Any Time Soon

NOT if Kiesel Boucher Larson have anything to say about it:

“The firm has made a commitment to see that these documents are made public and that the agreement is honored,” DeMarco said. “It’s in the settlement agreement. They have to turn the files over.”

DeMarco added:

“I can understand if some folks wonder why are we continuing on with this. These lawsuits against the archdiocese are not just something we did. This is a passion and a cause for us, for the firm, for Ray Boucher. I have been getting nothing but complete support of this firm to continue on with this as long as it takes.

“The document production is critical,” DeMarco continued. “There’s more kids being abused out there

(In fact in a post earlier today at City of Angels we write about another perpetrator priest arrested in January 2008 in Anaheim.)

“We've developed so much expertise over the years working on this case, and this is difficult emotional trying work to do,” DeMarco said. “There was a huge climax to this in Southern California over 700 cases settled in 2006-2007."

Think about it. More than 700 cases settled in Southern California over a two-year period.

DeMarco asserted repeatedly: the Kiesel Boucher Larson law firm has "made a commitment to see that these documents are made public and the agreement is honored and we will continue to fight until they turn over the files."

Let me repeat that.

We Will Continue To Fight Until They Turn Over The Files.

"It’s in the settlement agreement. They have to turn the files over," DeMarco said.

The procedure as agreed to with Judge Emilie Elias in July 2008:

Both sides submit three names and then Judge Emilie Elias chooses from those names or otherwise appoints a new referee, as parties agreed last July.

Elias can appoint the new referee at the October 8th hearing.

Panelli’s recusal letter was blunt, stating:

“The referee has considered the application of Canon 6 to the subject of this reference and based thereon has decided to recuse himself in this manner.

“At the present time the undersigned is serving as the Chair of the Diocesan Review Board for the Diocese of San Jose. The role of this board is to investigate charges of clergy abuse and to report its findings to the Bishop of the Diocese.

“While none of these cases at issue in this litigation are connected in any way to San Jose, the referee believes there could be the appearance of impropriety should he serve as Referee.

“The matters of issue have gained a great deal of public attention and in keeping with the Canons that a judge should avoid the appearance of impropriety, I have decided to recuse myself from this assignment. Signed June 11, 2008, Justice Edward A. Panelli (Retired)."


ME: TALK ABOUT the appearance of impropriety.

There was none until Panelli recused himself.

Now, we are all suspicious of him. And did you notice he never refers to himself except in the third person: "the refereee." Guy must have a starfish backbone. . . a wet starfish backbone

I asked DeMarco, wouldn't the referee's being on a review board make him really qualified to review priest personnel files?

“Frankly, Kay, I have found if you have someone looking at the wrongdoings of priests, Catholics are usually more outraged than someone without as much exposure.”

Panelli’s being on the San Jose Review board “would make him more qualified.” DeMarco said. “Those boards are theoretically independent.”

So this story will be continued after the hearing October 8th and more after that I'm sure.

From LA Superior Court Website under Case Summaries:

Future Hearings
10/08/2008 at 10:00 am in department 308 at 600 South Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005 Hearing-Oral Argument

Onward. . .

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