Judge M. Teresa Sarmina wants Msgr. William J. Lynn to sign an extradition waiver before she'll consider letting him out of jail on house arrest.
The judge told lawyers in the case that she's worried about the monsignor fleeing the Commonwealth to hide out at the Vatican. If the monsignor wants to get out of jail, he'll have to sign the extradition waiver first. Then if he subsequently becomes a fugitive and is captured on Vatican soil, he cannot legally fight extradition back to the U.S.
Sounds like a plot for a TV potboiler, right? But the judge was serious, and so Lynn agreed to the request. The judge was crabbier than usual as she repeatedly lit into defense lawyer Jeff Lindy for mistakenly telling her last week that the monsignor does not have a passport. He does, although on Tuesday, the monsignor handed his passport over to the judge before he went back to jail.
The judge got things started at the hearing over house arrest by telling lawyers on both sides of the case that she wanted them to be civil.
You mean civil as opposed to criminal asked Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington. Blessington. Blessington, usually the most unhinged participant in these legal debates, did not seem to know what the judge was talking about.
The judge continued to hammer Lindy for saying that the monsignor did not have a passport on Friday after the verdict, just before the judge decided to have Msgr. Lynn taken into custody.
The judge slammed Lindy for being "zealous" in representing his client, but not getting his facts straight.
Lindy can get "huffy" as the judge has described it, but Blessington has so many more fouls. The prosecutor has repeatedly slammed the monsignor as a liar and the monsignor's defense lawyers as pampered, overpaid and whiny crybabies always trying to pull some last-minute maneuver to delay justice for their corrupt client. The best part for Blessington is that no matter how loud and obnoxious he gets, the judge never calls him on anything, a fact not lost on Lindy.
"It's remarkable that you're talking about me," Lindy said, glancing in the direction of Blessington. "I don't know why you're going off on me right now," Lindy said. But the judge was just getting started.
"You stated it quite emphatically," the judge lectured Lindy about the passport that the monsignor allegedly did not have. "It turns out that you were in fact wrong," the judge continued. "Where would you get that understanding?"
Lindy said he might have gotten the wrong information from a relative or another lawyer in the case. He attempted to apologize, but the judge treated Lindy like a kid late for detention.
"If you're chewing gum, please get rid of it," she said.
"Yes, Your Honor," Lindy meekly responded.
The defense called Rita DeCarolis to the stand. She's a senior citizen who has volunteered her home to be the site of Msgr. Lynn's house arrest. DeCarolis said her son's late wife was Lynn's sister. DeCarolis testified that she lives alone. "I'm free," she said to help out the monsignor. She also was willing to let probation officers inspect her house, and call at all hours to check on the monsignor.
Lindy told the judge that his client was 61 years old, had no prior record, and plenty of ties to the community. Lynn was under investigation for ten years by a grand jury and never went anywhere, Lindy said. The monsignor made at least a dozen appearances before the grand jury. He showed up every day for court during the 13-week trial, usually early.
"He is absolutely no risk" to flee, Lindy said. The judge asked Lindy what he would do if despite his promises, his client fled the Commonwealth.
Lindy seemed perplexed. He suggested he could walk on his hands, eat the paper that his motion for house arrest was printed on, do somersaults, flips or whatever the judge wanted.
She glared at him.
Lindy sat down, and it was Blessington's turn to pour some gasoline on the fire.
"I will be civil," Blessington promised. But within seconds, the prosecutor was talking about Lindy's "material misrepresentations" to the judge, like that passport that Lindy said the monsignor did not have.
Blessington then pulled out a Chicago Tribune story that talked about since 1985, 32 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse had absconded from the country. The Catholic Church, which paid for Lynn's high-priced lawyers, is a "very powerful" worldwide organization, Blessington said. If Lynn fled the country, he could put his collar back on and blend in as a priest anywhere around the world.
Blessington was only a few minutes into his spiel where he promised to be civil when he briefly returned to the subject of Lynn's behavior on the witness stand. All he did was "lie, lie and lie," Blessington said of the monsignor.
"We're not here to discuss that, Mr. Blessington," the judge said. Wow, a mild reprimand from the judge. It only took 14 weeks.
Blessington skipped over the monsignor's behavior and talked about the "insulting" conduct of the defense team, and how they were now trying to "beg the court's indulgence" to get a convicted felon like their client out of jail.
Blessington asked the judge to consider the "mirror quality of the conduct" of the defense team, and how they reflected their corrupt client. He even took a shot at DeCarolis, calling her "the daughter-in-law of the son-in-law of a third cousin."
Blessington then returned to the subject of Lynn's conduct.
"He has nothing but utter contempt for the legal process," the prosecutor yelled. He doesn't deserve a reprieve from jail, especially considering it was "incomprehensible that he [Lynn] wouldn't get the maximum sentence." Lynn faces 3 1/2 to 7 years in jail after being convicted on the charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-class felony....read more