After a Pennsylvania appeals court unanimously overturned the landmark conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn – a conviction which the mainstream media naturally loudly trumpeted – Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams publicly attacked Msgr. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and even the appellate court judges to whom he is ethically bound to show due respect.
After Williams intemperately declared that the court's ruling was an "injustice," writer Ralph Cipriano reports that Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, believes that Williams' conduct was "unbecoming of his office and position as the city's top law enforcement officer."
Rather than dutifully discharging his role as simply a publicly elected law enforcement officer, Bergstrom adds, "All of a sudden he [Williams] is now judge, jury and executioner, and he's still railing about this man (Msgr. Lynn) being guilty, and he's innocent."
A focus on facts, not emotionAs usual, the mainstream media, and especially those at the Philadelphia Inquirer, turned a blind eye to Williams' outbursts. But, at long last, a writer at a major Philadelphia newspaper wrote that Williams' boorish behavior throughout the prosecution of Msgr. Lynn has left her nothing less than "disgusted."
Christine Flowers is not only a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News but also a seasoned lawyer.
After following the lengthy legal proceedings of the last three years, Flowers recently wrote an eye-opening article in the Daily News, in which she rails against D.A. Williams and others for their hypocrisy of seeking justice for abuse victims from decades ago by "embracing injustice."
While blasting last year's court proceedings against Msgr. Lynn as a "show trial," Flowers also attacks the "vindictive persistence" with which Williams pursued a "priestly scalp" in the form of an illegal prosecution of Lynn. She also slams Williams' insistence that his case against Lynn was legally sound despite the appeal court's decision and all of the evidence to the contrary.
"Seth Williams says he's 'disgusted' by the Pennsylvania Superior Court's decision reversing the child endangerment conviction of Monsignor William Lynn …
"The fact that he was 'disgusted' with the Superior Court ruling indicates that he either severely miscalculated the effect of that 2007 amendment or felt that public outrage and a communal sense of misdirected vengeance overrode the legal technicality known as due process."
A judge for the prosecutionAnd then there is Judge Teresa Sarmina, whom writer Cipriano earlier tagged as "often mistaken for a member of the prosecution team."
Numerous times during the trial of Msgr. Lynn, Sarmina blatantly betrayed her partiality with a number of shocking moments which showed that she had prejudged the matter in favor of the prosecution.
For example, early in the trial, Judge Sarmina confidently ruled that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, was able and "competent" to give testimony at the high-profile case. However, barely 36 hours after her ruling, the cardinal died in his sleep. The ailing prelate, at 88 years old, was already suffering from lengthy battles with cancer and severe dementia, yet Sarmina ruled that this man should appear and testify in public at one of Philadelphia's most publicized trials in history. Unbelievable.
Even though, after Sarmina wrote a rambling, 235-page brief defending her erroneous conviction of Msgr. Lynn, the appeals court unanimously ruled that her conviction was illegal and that an innocent man had just spent 18 months in prison for a crime which he did not commit.
Enter Christine Flowers again:
"I once clerked for the Superior Court. It is not an easy thing to get three of its judges to agree on what to have for lunch, let alone a legal decision … But in the Lynn case, they were unanimous and of the same mind in finding that the lower court essentially blew it, calling Judge Teresa Sarmina's decision to convict 'fundamentally flawed.' Since Sarmina had flatly rejected defense arguments about the unconstitutionality of retroactivity, the Superior Court essentially told Lynn's defense team that, yes, they were right."
Following the appellate court decision, Msgr. Lynn's case was returned to Judge Sarmina. And at that point, the honorable thing for Judge Sarmina to do would be to apologize to Msgr. Lynn for illegally incarcerating him.
However, apparently acting out of nothing but pure spite, Sarmina only reluctantly agreed to release Msgr. Lynn from prison on bail, and only under a host of ridiculous conditions more befitting John Gotti. In addition to having Lynn post a bond of $250,000, Sarmina has ordered him to wear an ankle bracelet, not to leave his residence, and to report to a parole officer every week.
Sarmina and D.A. Williams claimed that Msgr. Lynn might somehow "flee to the Vatican," a wholly preposterous idea that only over-heated bigots would buy.
In the end, however, Msgr. Lynn received justice, even if he had to spend 18 months illegally incarcerated, thanks to the vendetta launched against the Church by Williams, his staff, and their willing accomplice, Judge Sarmina.
And kudos to Christine Flowers, the first member of the mainstream media to publicize Williams' witch hunt against the Catholic Church.