December 14, 2004

Supreme Court hears arguments in Jackson Catholic Diocese motion

Sun Herald

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. - A state Supreme Court panel on Monday heard arguments on whether the First Amendment prohibits lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese over allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Three brothers filed a $48 million lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court in 2002. They claimed they were abused by a priest more than 30 years ago. The trial is on hold while the Supreme Court considers the diocese's motion for dismissal.

The diocese argues that the separation of church and state makes the church autonomous and that certain church documents are privileged.

"We are not saying somehow the church is above the law," said Martin Nussbaum, an attorney representing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jackson.

Circuit Judge Winston Kidd ruled last year that the First Amendment doesn't protect the diocese from litigation, and the diocese appealed to the high court, saying the lawsuit infringes on its constitutional rights.

Posted by kshaw at December 14, 2004 04:30 AM