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Spotlight Report

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'They still resist public disclosure of those documents'


Excerpts from Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney's handwritten ruling rejecting a motion by the Archdiocese of Boston to block public access to thousands of pages of documents related to cases of alleged sexual abuse by clergy:

Denied. This is not an emergency. Instead the motion appears designed to escape the full force of the court's multiple orders to produce documents and that these documents be open to public inspection. ... While the defendants have seemingly produced the documents to opposing counsel at the last minute and under a warning of sanctions and contempt ... they still resist public disclosure of those documents. ...

The defendants have not offered even one citation of legal authority in support of this motion. Of more seriousness ... is the fact that if there was any legitimacy to this motion, the defendants had ample time to bring it on a non-emergency basis. The sense of desperation inherent in the motion is not in any manner supported by cogently articulated facts of law. Moreover, defense counsel stood before this judge on 11/13/02 and withdrew a motion for an omnibus protective order to preclude discovery from the RCAB and its personnel. ... In the present motion, defense counsel seeks an entirely different remedy, namely don't let anyone know what we've given [the plaintiffs]. The increasingly dreary attempts of the RCAB to slow or limit disclosure of discovery is accurately chronicled in plaintiff Ford's opposition to this motion.

It should be noted that this motion was not filed on Friday. Rather, it was left in an envelope at the cashier's desk in the clerk's office and was addressed to an assistant clerk who was in session. This occurred after 4:30 p.m.

Finally, I am loath to criticize the plaintiffs for falling for this transparent delay tactic. But simply because a party files a motion does not mean that prior court orders are suspended. The plaintiffs could have gone right ahead and filed the discovery because that is what the court had long ago ordered.

If the tone of this endorsement is harsh, so be it. The court simply will not be toyed with.

This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 11/26/2002.
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