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If the diocese does not settle the case before it goes to court, do you think that discovery will go forward?

Historically, their lawyers have never had to argue any of these cases past statute of limitations. In sexual abuse cases, most of the victims come forward and attempt litigation past the criminal and civil SOL so the cases are dead in the water. On the rare occasion that the case has gotten past the SOL, the church has argued first amendment issues and surprisingly the courts bought the argument. Meaning that real discovery would not happen because the church has successfully argued that their internal records are exempt from discovery in our courts.

Granted, the tide seems to have turned and the courts are not seeing these cases as internal matters related to church governance.

But do you think that there will be discovery . . . as in full-fledged depositions on this case and subpoena of records?

I remember that the diocese had pledged full cooperation with the police investigation. When the police asked the diocese to turn over everything that they had on Robinson, church officials turned over 3 pages of documents. Apparently, this angered investigators who executed 2 no-knock search warrants which resulted in about 150 more pages of documentation.

The diocese claimed that there were no "secret files." But how do you withhold documents and then produce more documents later without there being some level of secrecy in determining what is given and to whom?

As I've said before, tell Robinson's new criminal defense team to go after the secret files at the diocese (or possibly at the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C.) in their efforts to exonerate their client. I think that the tide of public opinion might significantly alter if they went after the diocese to get at those records.


The First Amendment?? That does surprise me. If I were the judge in this case, I would order everything possibly relevant that the plaintiff's attorney has subpoenaed to be produced - at a minimum, for private inspection by the judge ("in camera").

The Court of Appeals has issued its ruling. Full-blown discovery can and should commence. As a general rule, what is "discoverable" is much broader than what is "admissible." Though they can't force Gerald Robinson to testify, nor should he.

As to the question of "secret files," I would really have to look at the exact language of the original subpoena. To whom was it directed? You can only ask a person to produce what is in that person's possession or control. Was the subpoena narrow or vague? Did it give the Church room to argue whether certain documents did or did not fit the description? If anything is withheld, then that fact needs to be disclosed and the justification needs to be given at the time it is withheld. Just because there were more documents does not automatically mean that anything was intentionally and/or wrongfully withheld. Forgive me for this but - the devil's in the details.

Seems to me the plaintiff's attorney ought to be the one with the motivation and the duty to get everything he can.


Is this the search warrant?


Even as I'm reading this, I'm wondering why didn't the police officers who executed the search warrants confiscate everyone's computers during the 2 searches? The search warrant covers EVERYTHING -- why didn't they take the computers of the archivist, the archivist's secretary, the bishop, the bishop's secretary, the chancellor, the chancellor's secretary?

Fred Rosen

Dear Laura:

Lessee...hmmm....turning pages....hmmmm......oh yeah, no DNA inside her. Under her fingernails someone else's DNA other than Jerry's? Cool, okay, let's you and I go through it. Two heads are better than one.

Go back to the trial and give me the reference to unidentified DNA taken from her body after it had been in the ground 25 years. We'll need to take into account degradation and then whatever the tests showed.

But my real question is why would you doubt eyeball witnesses -- plural -- that put Jerry near the scene on or about the time Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was murdered? Let me know what you think.

Congrats again on the new historical true crime book. I met Harold Schechter the other night when we were on the Joey Reynolds Show together. Nice guy.




I read on your website about the reliable source saying that the diocese is back dooring money over to Robinson's defense team.

I've heard the same rumors. These cases take a long long time and lots and lots of hours. I think that there is a constant stream of income coming from the church to the Robinson Legal Defense fund and it is in the church's best interest to have this guy exonerated.

Do you have an opinion on whether Robinson acted alone? Chet Warren was named in some reports as a possible accomplice. Additionally, in both the opening and closing statements Ass't Prosecutor Dean Mandros referred to Sr. Margaret's killers.

I can't wait to read the book.


I got hold of the defense brief. It's a public document on file with the Court of Appeals clerk.

I was so irritated with Court TV during its coverage. I thought they were only showing 3-5 minutes of the cross-exam of the prosecution's experts. Then I learn that 3-5 minutes per expert was all that there was!! The performance by the defense attorneys in his case was remarkably bad. Had they done their jobs, etc.

I can't accept degradation as an excuse for a non-DNA match. It was not degraded beyond the ability to establish that it wasn't Fr. Robinson's DNA.

Fred, the victim's fingernails were clipped in 1980. The reference is Trial Transcript pp. 2060-2095, 2622-2623, 2344-2350, 3462-3473. Basically the testimony of the prosecution's experts.


Fred Rosen's book on the murder, the initial 1980 investigation and then the one that happened recently is excellent! I read it over the Thanksgiving weekend. I do have a question: Do you think that there was another person involved with Robinson? The prosecution investigated Warren as another possible suspect and then referred to Sr. Margaret's killerS in both their opening and closing arguments.
I don't think it was a slip up.


Hi Laura,

I read on another blog that the docket on Robinson's case indicates that his motion to be released to participate in his appeal has again been denied.


An appeal that hints that dead priest Swiatecki killed Sr. Margaret has been filed. Pretty predictable that someone would finger the dead priest. My money is that Chet Warren had something to do with it.


my friend was also ritually abused by him. the claimant is not the only one.

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