Law Seeking Delay in Civil Depositions
By Tom Mashberg
January 18, 2003
Bernard Cardinal Law's attorney moved yesterday to put off Law's testimony in a civil case until after the cardinal goes before a criminal grand jury next month, explaining after that he fears Law might ``inadvertently contradict'' himself and open himself to a perjury charge.
``It's every lawyer's nightmare,'' said J. Owen Todd, Law's personal counsel, after filing an emergency motion before Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney. ``Any lawyer worth his salt who has a client about to go before a grand jury must consider that the client, through carelessness, could say something at variance with what has been testified to before.''
Law is scheduled to be deposed by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. of Greenberg Traurig on Jan. 23 and Feb. 3. He also is set to go before a criminal grand jury probing church supervisors Feb. 25.
Todd said Law was not formally a ``target'' of the grand jury, which has been asked by Attorney General Tom Reilly to explore whether church supervisors might be prosecutable under state laws for cases where known clergy abusers were allowed access to minors.
Todd said he did not believe church higher-ups could be indicted under criminal-accessory statutes because those laws require proof of ``intent to cause harm.''
As a result, he said, he wants to be especially cautious of a perjury charge given that ``a grand juror might decide that an inadvertant contradiction was in fact a lie.''
``Every prosecutor has perjury in the back of his mind,'' Todd said.
Law already has undergone 10 days of depositions in the cases of the Revs. Paul R. Shanley and John J. Geoghan. In the past year, thousands of chancery files revealing Law's role in handling problem priests have also been released.
And on Jan. 9, Law's personal calendar revealed the former archbishop met dozens of times with problem priests - seemingly contradicting Law's testimony that he delegated most abuse matters.
In his motion, Todd said ``a substantial amount of prior testimony and documents may need to be reviewed prior to the cardinal's appearance before the grand jury.''
Todd also complained that ``extrajudicial commentary'' on Law by plaintiffs' lawyers and others involved in the lawsuits ``can only frustrate the purpose of a fair and impartial grand jury proceeding.''
Also yesterday, six sets of files on problem priests were released.
Personnel files on the Rev. Thomas M. Curran, who was suspended last Aug. 2, include a long memo from a church therapist detailing allegations that Curran molested a male minor multiple times from 1970 to 1974.
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