January 15, 2005

Sides to mediate abuse lawsuits

Oakland Tribune

By Glenn Chapman, STAFF WRITER

OAKLAND Rival attorneys in the Clergy III Catholic priest sex abuse cases are to begin intense private mediation next week in a final push to settle matters before public trials begin in March.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw told a courtroom packed with civil attorneys Friday that retired Contra Costa County Judge Coleman Fannin of dispute resolution firm JAMS will oversee the last-ditch mediation effort. Five attorneys from each side are to meet with Fannin at the JAMS office in San Francisco on Tuesday to begin what is viewed as a "last and best" effort to resolve cases before the first two trials in the coordinated litigation begin March 7.

One of those trials is to be held in Alameda County Superior Court.

About 200 plaintiffs are involved in the approximately 160 priest sex abuse suits being coordinated by Sabraw. Defendants in the cases range from priests to top Catholic church officials accused of covering up abuses and protecting wrongdoers.

Sabraw's decision regarding mediation came during a morning-long hearing in which he revealed a series of tentative rulings in favor of the church.

Posted by kshaw at January 15, 2005 08:57 AM