Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Saying One Thing in Public; Saying Something Different in Court

News organizations are reporting ironic circumstances that might be a good discussion starter in class on the issues of law, justice, or the lawyer's role as advocate. A plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim in Colorado state court against a Catholic Hospital following the death of his 7-month pregnant wife and the loss of the twin fetuses that she was carrying. The Catholic Hospital's lawyers have defended the claim based on the loss of the fetuses on the basis that the fetuses do not have any rights recognized by law. This position has been upheld by the trial court and on the initial appeal. Of course,the position espoused in court by the lawyers for the Catholic Hospital is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding fetuses.

After allegations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests came to light, church administrators apologized for facilitating and covering up the abuse and expressed concern for the well-being of the victims.  At the same time, the church's lawyers were in court admitting no wrongdoing and dragging plaintiff victims over the coals in discovery in the hopes they would fold their lawsuits.

The Catholic Church must certainly not be the first or only organization or entity to argue a position in court that contradicted its own moral position.  But then, that is the lesson.

Judgment Against Catholic Diocese after aggressive cross examination of plaintiff:

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