May 16, 2006

Decision on judge expected this week

Rutland Herald

May 16, 2006

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Herald Staff

Vermont's Catholic Church may soon receive a decision on its call to bar the judge who oversaw a record $965,000 settlement against it from presiding over 19 more priest misconduct lawsuits.

In a motion made public Monday, church lawyer David Cleary claims Judge Ben Joseph's rulings in the recent civil case of Michael Gay, 38, of South Burlington, versus the Rev. Edward Paquette have jeopardized the statewide Diocese of Burlington's ability to receive fair hearings in the future.

"There exists substantial doubt regarding the impartiality of Judge Joseph," Cleary begins his 32-page motion against the judge.

Cleary questions many of Joseph's rulings and comments, such as when the judge asked why the diocese had announced a parish closing and consolidation plan one month before the scheduled start of the trial. The lawyer believes Joseph "clearly was indicating that in his view, the diocese was attempting to create sympathy."

Cleary claims the state judge wouldn't let religious officials rely on Universal Roman Catholic Church law, noting Joseph told a treasurer he was "not as forthcoming frankly as he might have been" when asked about diocesan assets.

Posted by kshaw at May 16, 2006 07:06 AM