I have been waiting for word on the contempt of court hearing this morning where the charge was levied against Bishop Tod brown of the Diocese of Orange. I finally got to read that the bishop has pleaded "not guilty" to the charge (the first part of any contempt charge is an arraignment, which he waived), but I was stunned to read this:
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the recently settled case had sought the contempt hearing, accusing Brown of sending Msgr. John Urell, the chief investigator of sex abuse complaints against the diocese, to Canada for medical treatment before he could finish his deposition. They expected the judge to dismiss their motion after the two sides agreed to settle the four cases for about $7 million. Brown's lawyer, Peter Callahan, insisted on going forward, saying the bishop wanted to clear his name.
I suspect that it was not Peter Callahan's choice, but rather his client wants to go full bore out of principle. If I were representing someone on a contempt of court charge (and we do face them in Family Law, whether for something like abuse of discovery or failure to pay support) and there was the chance that it would be dismissed and thus have it all go away, I would beat my client senseless if he told me, "I want to fight this, I don't care if the Court is going to drop the charges." And then hightail it out of the courtroom as soon as the judge did so.
I probably would not follow his advice without first asking if I could voir dire my client on the record that it is his choice to enter a plea, notwithstanding my legal advice, so as to protect my ass-et from a malpractice claim. If I did, then I probably would not allow him to state on the courthouse steps that "he approved of the decision to send Urell to Canada after a diocese physician had recommended he be treated immediately," when it contradicts his testimony in his deposition and thus does damage to his credibility before he even takes the stand.
How much damage? I guess we find out in December when the evidentiary hearing on this goes forward. Stay tuned . . .