For religious freedom advocates the Religion Clause blog is very valuable. Thank you, Professor Friedman, for tracking and for scrupulous neutrality.
For people appalled by clerical sexual abuse and false accusations thereof, or even just for civil procedure buffs, a Wednesday item in the blog should be of interest:
Last year, St. Louis Catholic priest Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang, who had been charged with abusing a boy, but then had charges dropped, filed a federal lawsuit against a number of defendants, including the boy’s parents and the victim advocacy group SNAP. The suit charged SNAP with conspiracy, defamation and infliction of emotional distress. (See prior postings 1, 2). As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jiang has been attempting through discovery to obtain information on people who had made complaints against him to SNAP. The court ordered SNAP to produce that (and other) information, but it has refused. So Jiang moved for the imposition of sanctions under Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In Jiang v. Porter, (ED MO, Aug. 22, 2016), a Missouri federal district court judge imposed unusual sanctions:
[T]he Court will direct that the facts alleged supporting elements of plaintiff’s claims against the SNAP defendants have been established for the purpose of this action….
[T]he Court will direct that it has been established that the SNAP defendants conspired with one another and others to obtain plaintiff’s conviction on sexual abuse charges and that they entered into this conspiracy due to discriminatory animus against plaintiff based on his religion, religious vocation, race and national origin.
This is, I believe, the strongest available sanction for refusal to cooperate with discovery requests. It is very rarely used. It is theoretically available in Indiana, whose Trial Rules mirror the Federal rules.
SNAP’s response is about what I would expect, only less sober and more poorly-written:
In a ruling that SNAP calls “unprecedented” in its history, last month, a federal judge in St. Louis ordered SNAP to give Fr. Jiang information containing names of dozens of victims, witnesses and whistleblowers. Never before, SNAP says, has a court issued such a “troubling order” against it, which it contends violates the group leaders’ consciences, duties and Missouri law which requires that it maintain such information confidential. SNAP fears rulings such as this will deter other crime victims from reporting criminals and put victims, their families and witnesses in potential danger.
“We of course have deep respect for the law and the judge,” said Clohessy. “But we feel we have no choice but to also respect and honor Missouri law, our consciences, public safety and the pledges we’ve made to deeply wounded and often still fragile victims of horrific childhood violence.”
SNAP also goes on the offense, as if prosecutors had not dropped charges against the Priest.
From a personal experience some 30 years ago, I know that false and spiteful allegations of sexual abuse do occur. On the other hand, I understand how SNAP could feel that revealing names will chill reporting of abuse.
This is a hard case, and there is an old saying that hard cases make bad law.
My sympathies are strongly with Defendant school in a New Jersey case, but sexuality is developing such a legal “distortion factor” that I wouldn’t bet on the school.
Jonathan Perry, a Republican state senator [in Louisiana] is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee for citizen-rescuers to bypass law enforcement into devastated areas, according to a report from WWL-TV.
(Rod Dreher) Yeah! Way to go, Senator Perry! We can’t have the Cajun Navy saving lives without permits!
Note that Senator Perry is a Republican, too. Presumably a pasty white one from somewhere outside the flood zone, trying to make himself relevant without going and getting dirty.
Fie on them all!
I have been a participant in the effort to encourage Protestant religious conservatives, generally known as fundamentalists and evangelicals, to reconsider their position voluntarily.
(David Gushee, On LGBT equality, middle ground is disappearing, italics added) There is a great deal to detest about this article, which I think merits the adjective “dishonest,” but let me just focus on the blockquote.
Is there any plausible benign construction of the facially sinister “reconsider … voluntarily”?
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)