NTL member Lyndsay Markley investigating alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priest

Chicago plaintiff attorney Lyndsay A. MarkleyNational Trial Lawyers member Lyndsay Markley says she’s investigating cases of alleged sexual abuse by now deceased Catholic Priest, Monsignor Thomas Mohan Of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Diocese of Los Angeles, and Diocese of Orange County, California.

The alleged victims, some of whom reside in Cook County, Illinois and others in California, claim that  they were sexually abused as children by Mohan during their participation in the Catholic Faith, including performing tasks as altar boys.  Following Mnsgr. Mohan’s retirement from his work as a Catholic Priest within the Archdiocese of Chicago in the early 1970s. Thereafter, he performed work as a pastor and Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange County until 1997. Mohan died on November 28, 2002. Many of the current allegations against Mohan arise from his time in California.

In response to multiple queries regarding the status of these claims, Attorney Lyndsay Markley is investigating these matters on behalf of her clients and working with the representatives from the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Los Angeles, and the Diocese of Orange County in an effort to reach an amicable resolution of these claims outside of litigation.

The timing of these claims is fortuitous given the impending enactment of California resolution AB-3120 – an amendment to the California statute that sets the statute of limitations for civil claims against private entities. Under this new version of the law, many of the previous barriers to victims of sexual abuse in California would be removed.  The law also provides for treble damages. Illinois’ law still creates a difficult barrier to victims from this time period.

Attorney Lyndsay Markley says:

“Given the passage of time, many witnesses to the wrongful actions of Monsignor Mohan are no longer available and we urge anyone with information regarding this priest to come forward to help these victims achieve justice.  For far too long the Catholic Church has known about sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior indicating abuse committed by its priests and acted to protect the priest to the grave detriment of children. For too long, the Catholic Church has covered it up to avoid scandal, criminal charges, and civil lawsuits by running down the clock on the time period available to a victim to file a lawsuit.

Most recently we are seeing this sad story play out in Pennsylvania, where over 300 priests have molested and abused nearly 1,000 children since the 1970s.  Now it is time to hold the church accountable civilly and criminally for all of their years of wrongdoing by removing any impediment to a victim’s right to bring a lawsuit.

“In the future, hopefully the Archdiocese of Chicago will prevent the admittance of predators into the clergy so that innocent children will remain unharmed and we don’t have to rely on the justice system to address a victim’s needs after the fact.”

Lyndsay Markley has represented and currently represents several victims of sexual abuse against the Archdiocese of Chicago arising out of sexual abuse that occurred by defrocked priest, Daniel McCormack. She has also represented survivors of sexual abuse  in lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Board of Education, United Airlines, Inc., daycares, and many other entities.

Judge Rules Cullman County, Alabama’s Bail System Illegally Discriminates Against the Poor

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. – Today, people who were jailed simply because they could not afford bail in Cullman County, Alabama, won a significant victory when a federal court judge ruled that the practice of jailing those who cannot pay is unconstitutional.  The judge entered a preliminary injunction order that prohibits Cullman County from continuing to discriminate against the poor through its bail system.  This follows a memorandum opinion entered last week explaining why the county’s practices were illegal.  As the Court explained, “Cullman County’s discriminatory bail practices deprive indigent criminal defendants in Cullman County of equal protection of the law” and its justifications for using a bail schedule are “illusory and conspicuously arbitrary.”

This preliminary injunction will remain in effect while the lawsuit challenging the practice is fully resolved and permanent relief is ordered.

The lawsuit was brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Civil Rights Corps, the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on behalf of Bradley Hester, who was held on a $1,000 bond he could not afford. The organizations jointly issued the following statements:

Statement from Sam Brooke, deputy legal director, the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Today was a big win for all Cullman County residents because no longer will the county be allowed to treat residents with means differently than those without in our criminal justice system.  Jails are not meant to warehouse people who have not been convicted of a crime, particularly where, as here, the rich are able to buy their freedom and impoverished people are left to languish in jail. This form of wealth-based discrimination that keeps people in jail just because they cannot afford their freedom is unconstitutional.  We will continue to fight to eliminate wealth-based justice.” 

Statement from Katherine Hubbard, attorney, Civil Rights Corps:

“Reforms are underway.  Most municipal courts in Alabama have already moved away from money bail.  Today’s decision affirms that progress, and encourages more, recognizing that our district and circuit courts still have a long way to go.

“We look forward to working with the county officials to ensure their new practices comply with the preliminary injunction order, and we will continue our litigation against Cullman County until permanent relief is implemented. We hope other courts will take notice and end these abuses in their own jurisdictions without waiting for a lawsuit to force the issue.”

Statement from Brock Boone, staff attorney, ACLU of Alabama:  

“The federal court’s decision today acknowledges what policy makers, advocates, and state courts across the country are recognizing:  that locking people up simply based on poverty is unacceptable, and that a just bail system must provide robust protections to ensure that those presumed innocent are released pretrial, while only the most severe cases will require detention. 

“Cullman County is in many ways typical of courts across Alabama.  Far too often, its bail system results in people being locked away pretrial simply because they could not pay.  Courts throughout Alabama, and the country, are setting bail above what people can pay, without any protections to ensure that this draconian penalty is used only when absolutely necessary.”

Learn more about the fight to end wealth-based pretrial detention here

NTL member Tommy Malone honored with scholarship

Thomas MaloneNational Trial Lawyers member Tommy Malone, who is battling stomach cancer, is being honored by his peers who are funding a scholarship at Mercer University Law School in his name. That’s where Malone earned his J.D. in 1966. Malone went on to found the Malone Law Firm in Atlanta and has tried personal injury and wrongful death cases for more than 40 years. According to The Daily Report, one of the lawyers donating to the scholarship fund, Brent Savage, called Malone “the best trial lawyer in Georgia in my lifetime.” National Trial Lawyers member Robert “Bart” Turner, another Mercer alumnus, is also one of the scholarship’s founders. If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund, go to http://law.mercer.edu/campaign/. Author Vincent Coppola has also written a biography of Malone, which is available here. 

Impeachment of 4 WVA justices begins this week

Impeachment proceedings against four West Virginia Supreme Court Justices begin this week with initial appearances before the state Senate scheduled for Tuesday. According to Talking Points Memo, a pre-trial conference will be held Tuesday before the Senate, which will act as the jury in the impeachment process. No date has been set yet for the actual impeachment trials. West Virginia’s House of Delegates voted in August to impeach Justices Allen Loughry, Beth Walker, Margaret Workman and Robin Davis, although Davis retired after the vote. The move to impeach arose from an investigation into how renovation funds were spent on the Justices’ offices. Democratic lawmakers have called the impeachments a power grab by the GOP.

State Farm settles class action for $250M

State Farm has settled a class action for $250 million claiming it created a RICO enterprise to funnel campaign money to an Illinois Supreme Court justice who later voted to overturn a $1 billion verdict against the insurance company, according to the ABA Journal. The lawsuit claimed that State Farm used non-profit organizations to secretly fund the election of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. A trial was scheduled for last week, but a preliminary settlement was approved by a federal judge on September 5, with a hearing on final approval set for December 13. According to an amended complaint, State Farm orchestrated as much as $4 million of $4.8 million in campaign contributions to Karmeier through an organization called the Illinois Civil Justice League, which was created by a State Farm lawyer, who also hired the ICJL’s president. The New York Times also has details on the settlement. A news release from State Farm denied any liability and said the plaintiff’s claims were without merit.

Podcast: Demystifying legal tech trends

smartphoneNew technology has the potential to help law firms manage many things, but how does one sift through all the options to find the best solutions? In this edition of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing from the Legal Talk Network, Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street talk to Chad Burton, the CEO of Curolegal about the latest trends in legal technology and which ones are right for your firm.

Manafort’s lawyers back in court

Paul ManafortAttorneys for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort will be back in court, one week after he was found guilty on eight counts. Manafort faces a second trial in Washington, DC that’s set to start September 17. While Manafort awaits sentencing on the earlier convictions, he won’t be appearing in court this time. CNN reports his lawyers will be arguing against asking potential jurors whether they voted in the 2016 election. Manafort faces seven criminal charges in the upcoming trial. Then on Wednesday, prosecutors will state whether they intend to seek another trial on the ten charges in which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.

Trump’s trouble with ‘flippers’

Donald J. TrumpPresident Trump doesn’t care much for so-called ‘flippers’ like his former attorney Michael Cohen. The president said “it almost ought to be illegal” for a person who’s accused of a crime to signal a willingness to help investigators. In an opinion piece on TheHill.com, former federal prosecutor Gregory Wallance writes that flippers have helped convict “some of the most notorious criminals and corrupt politicians in American history.” But he’s more concerned that Trump’s comments are part of an assault on the rule of law that erodes the public’s confidence in law enforcement.

What to look for in a criminal defense attorney

woman attorney in courtroomWhat makes a good criminal defense attorney, and what qualities should you look for if you need to hire one? The Baltimore Post-Examiner has a list of qualifications potential clients should have in mind. It goes beyond an attorney’s win/loss record. It’s important to find the right attorney with the skills and personality that fit your particular case. Aggressiveness, integrity and experience are just a few of the important qualities people should seek. Read more in this helpful guide that can help you find the right criminal defense attorney. 

Ken Starr joins Lanier team

Mark Lanier

National Trial Lawyers President Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm

It’s a team-up you that might surprise you at first: National Trial Lawyers President Mark Lanier has hired former US Solicitor General, Federal Judge and Independent Counsel  Ken Starr as counsel to The Lanier Firm. But their story goes back farther than you might think. According to TexasLawyer.com, Lanier met Starr nearly 25 years ago when the former was a third-year law student competing in the American Bar Association National Moot Court Championship, which Starr was judging. Lanier says he was “blown away” when he got to meet Starr. It’s clear the admiration goes both ways. “It’s a very deep, personal friendship and I’ve long admired what [Lanier] has done and has accomplished,” Starr said. “He’s a justice seeker, a justice warrior and I greatly admired that,” Starr told TexasLawyer.com. Incidentally, in 1984 Lanier’s team went on to be named national champions, and he was honored as best oralist.