March 30, 2005

Appeals court orders summaries of priest files made public

Monterey Herald

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Summaries of the personnel files of about 200 priests named in civil molestation lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will become public within two weeks unless the state Supreme Court steps in.

A judge had ordered a temporary ban on making the summaries public while an attorney representing 26 of the accused priests filed a petition with the 2nd District Court of Appeals. On Tuesday, the three-member appellate panel rejected attorney Donald Steier's petition to make the ban permanent, meaning the files could become public as early as April 12 when the temporary ban expires.

Steier said Wednesday he would likely ask the California Supreme Court to review the case.

The summaries, called "proffers," were prepared by plaintiff and archdiocese attorneys as part of a court-ordered mediation process aimed at settling some 550 molestation lawsuits filed against the archdiocese. The lawsuits were filed under a 2002 state law that suspended for one year the statute of limitations for filing civil molestation claims.

"(The summaries) were prepared pursuant to mediation orders and those are clearly protected from disclosure in the absence of a waiver from all of the interested parties," Steier said.

Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiffs' attorney, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Posted by kshaw at March 30, 2005 10:04 PM