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Saturday, September 22, 2007

TRANSCRIPT: July 16th Hearing in Superior Court Settling 508 Civil Cases Against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles

By Kay Ebeling

“There’s been a constant stream of motions presented to this court in areas that are out on the fringes of established law.” -- Judge Haley Fromholz

Call me Scoop. Just now went back and read my July 16th notes and decided to copy and paste them here for others to read. It’s pretty much a transcript of what was said at the settlement hearing in LA Superior Court which ended 508 plaintiffs’ cases against the Archdiocese. (Note: I’m not a court reporter, just incredibly fast.)

JUDGE HALEY FROMHOLZ: This was the date set for the trial re Hagenbach allegations. It was impossible over the weekend not to understand there’d be a settlement in these cases. This morning I need to establish it is a settlement, it covers the cases and it’s the desire of the attorneys, so that the trial dates can be vacated.

Judge asks Boucher to state it is a settlement and Hennigan does as well.

PLAINTIFF ATTY. RAY BOUCHER: I was ready to give an opening statement this morning. We represent 245 victims and I’d like the court to at least acknowledge the Hagenbach victims who are here today who were ready to start trial -- ask them to stand.

(Row of men stand up.)

BOUCHER: On behalf of the 508 who make up Clergy One plaintiffs we have reached a settlement of principle that resolves all cases against the Los Angeles archdiocese and related entities --

Memo of understanding signed by all sides

(NOTE: Was it signed or is it yet to be signed?)

"660 million dollars"

BOUCHER: In addition a number of cases remain before the court concerning a number of religious orders who haven’t gone along with the settlement

BOUCHER: But this releases the Los Angeles archdiocese.

BOUCHER: Release of personnel records and confidential files and those subpoenaed by third parties (is part of the settlement).

DEFENSE/CHURCH ATTORNEY J. MICHAEL HENNIGAN : First I want to the victims it is our deep regret that this took so long.

VICTIM CALLS OUT: Not accepted

JUDGE: This is a hearing. It’s not okay to testify

HENNIGAN: It’s been the most complex undertaking I’ve ever done in my career. This last week seemed to be endless we worked so hard. I’m indebted to the court for helping us reach this conclusion

HENNIGAN: We all hoped this would occur but feared it might not so thank you. We have reached a protocol re those that may be controversial in the way we resoloved those

(What is he saying?!?!?!)

JUDGE: With a written notice of settlement filed by plaintiffs counsel

(??? Haven’t been able to find a copy of this yet. . . )

JUDGE: Then the court vacates trial date. At this time parties have a time to show cause why it should not be dismissed.

. . . .

JUDGE: This came so close on the heels there is no written settlement so I’m asking that plaintiffs’ counsel when I read their names stand and tell me if indeed it’s the fact -- there is a settlement agreement it’s settled and you wish the trial date to be vacated.

Eight cases to read by name.

PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY VENUS SOLTAN says she wants the payment to be in 60 days

She represents 50 people and has not seen the memo of understanding

BOUCHER says the soonest practical and possible is December 1

PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY JOHN MANLY: I think we have an agreement is what we're trying to say to put on record. We haven’t seen the memorandum. We can agree to vacate the trial date

MANLY: I’ll look at the agreement and if there’s anything I don't want in there I’ll let the court know.

JUDGE: This is D Day we're either vacating trial date or going to trial.

JUDGE: We need to set a date for dismissal of Hagenbach normally 45 days

BOUCHER: Can we set a court hearing? The document hasn’t been -- San Diego’s bankruptcy is still a consideration. I’ll consult with Mr. Hennigan re a date…

JUDGE: I’d like to get written notice from liaison counsel that renders an account of all the names -- All defendants and any remaining defendants case by case.

JUDGE: When can I expect something like that?

BOUCHER: Two weeks?

JUDGE: Okay July 30th 8:30 AM

(It hasn’t been turned in yet as of September 20, 2007¬.)

BOUCHER: Miani is an order priest so that case will go forward with a trial date in September.

(Now set for trial November 5.)

JUDGE: The Court will set a trial setting conference for the remaining cases. Probably early in August cases with remaining defendants -- those cases still in discovery will meet to establish that they are released.

. . . .

FROMHOLZ: Vetter case re Passionists also has to . . .

(Sorry didn't get that)

JUDGE: These cases have been pending and actively litigated for at least 3 years. They're immensely complicated. Each has its own set of facts and painful history, the facts are extremely complicated. Discovery has been arduous, legal issues have been complicated.

JUDGE: There’s been a constant stream of motions presented to this court in areas that are out on the fringes of established law.

J: We became aware there are evidentiary issues that are myriad and complex and probably would have provided a bases for anyone who wished to do so to appeal.

J: So for those reasons and to avoid pain and anguish on the part of everyone this is the right thing to do. Settling is the right thing to do. Unlike what it says in the newspaper I don't decide whether to approve or disapprove a settlement.

J: Let me commend liaison counsel -- they did what lawyers are supposed to do which sometimes can appear to be contradictory but they advocated their clients’ cause with zeal.

At the same time in recent days as they sought to settle the cases, they did everything they could to make these cases run efficiently



BOUCHER: Five years ago last week Gray Davis signed into law this opportunity for people to have justice.



. . . .

BOUCHER: We wouldn't be here today without Peter Lichtman who years ago took on this case. He is a tremendous bright light for this court system and the victims wouldn't be here without his efforts. Jeff McCoy when we first went to him said Why me? This changed his life.

BOUCHER: [TEARFUL] His kindness his gentleness his wisdom. . .I don't know how to tell the court how many times in the last weeks this settlement was dead.

B: With yarn and string and glue he kept it together [TEARFUL]

B: I’m usually very critical of insurance companies but I do want to acknowledge that ???

B: Most of the victims will not forgive the cardinal but I’ve seen him as he’s met with many clients and began to try to start the healing process. He took steps that I think he could only take and went to Rome several times in the last weeks to get ready to settle these cases. It was his decision to tell the church and lawyers to follow his guidance and his lead and as a result of that we were able to settle these case.

B: I hope that given his contact with clients he’ll become a leader in the world to prevent child abuse.

B: I acknowledge Tony DeMarco everyone owes him gratitude, everyone, the lawyers, the clients. My fellow lawyers (almost totally in tears) I think you --

HENNIGAN: I don't think Mr. Boucher meant to say our meeting persuaded me to settle these cases. We were trying to settle these cases since before the law was passed more than five years ago. It’s been a pleasure at times, frustrating at times, but I’ve always seen the talent of Ray Boucher

(Boucher is going around the room hugging and kissing people)

H: I will say I thank Mr. Boucher for his kind words about the cardinal. He visited extensively with over 70 victims and it changed us all, changed our perspective on what happened here.

H: I’d like to say that reform in the church was going to happen anyway and I can’t say that. These cases have forever reformed the archdiocese of Los Angeles and it will never be the same.

H: Thursday night we got one piece done and Friday night the rest of it done. Thanks to the lines of communication we'll still be working together through the document issues and the rest of the things…..

JUDGE: I think that competes our business here this morning.

(ME: OH MY GOD Mahony has been sitting there in a suit all this time. And some serious bling around the neck!!!)

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