Last Tuesday, a Missouri judge was minutes away from deciding if David Clohessy, the National Director of the anti-Catholic group SNAP, would be held criminally in contempt of court for failing to produce documents for an important civil case involving a Catholic priest accused of abuse.
As we have reported before, despite losing several appeals, Clohessy has steadfastly refused to hand over documents ordered by a judge, and defense lawyers have requested that Clohessy and SNAP be found in contempt.
Enter Rebecca Randles, the lawyer for the plaintiff in the case and someone who has enjoyed a cozy relationship with SNAP. What did Randles do? She outright withdrew the case she had filed, thereby saving Clohessy the public embarrassment of a criminal contempt hearing and further damage to his organization.
The public face vs. the facts
Randles has tried to explain her sudden decision to withdraw her suit by saying that she wished to appeal a recent court decision that removed the Diocese of Kansas-City-St. Joseph as a defendant in the case.
Randles has attempted to give the impression that Clohessy's imminent hearing had nothing to do with her decision. "SNAP isn't off the hook by this at all," Randles has told the media.
Randles' words ring hollow, however. The court's decision to dismiss the diocese from the suit occurred over three months ago. She easily could have made her decision to withdraw and refile her case back then. Instead, she waited until the last second before Clohessy's contempt hearing to withdraw her lawsuit.
Randles's suit withdrawal bears all the hallmarks of someone rescuing a friend from legal hot water. And her actions should not be a surprise. As we reported earlier this year, lawyers for an accused Catholic priest discovered that Randles was feeding information to SNAP about abuse lawsuits before they were even filed in court.
In the end, what we see is yet another episode illustrating the long and close collaborative relationship between contingency lawyers and SNAP.