The judge told lawyers in the case that she's worried about the monsignor fleeing the Commonwealth to hide out at the Vatican. If the monsignor wants to get out of jail, he'll have to sign the extradition waiver first. Then if he subsequently becomes a fugitive and is captured on Vatican soil, he cannot legally fight extradition back to the U.S.
Sounds like a plot for a TV potboiler, right? But the judge was serious, and so Lynn agreed to the request. The judge was crabbier than usual as she repeatedly lit into defense lawyer Jeff Lindy for mistakenly telling her last week that the monsignor does not have a passport. He does, although on Tuesday, the monsignor handed his passport over to the judge before he went back to jail.
The judge got things started at the hearing over house arrest by telling lawyers on both sides of the case that she wanted them to be civil.
You mean civil as opposed to criminal asked Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington. Blessington. Blessington, usually the most unhinged participant in these legal debates, did not seem to know what the judge was talking about.
The judge continued to hammer Lindy for saying that the monsignor did not have a passport on Friday after the verdict, just before the judge decided to have Msgr. Lynn taken into custody.
The judge slammed Lindy for being "zealous" in representing his client, but not getting his facts straight.
Lindy can get "huffy" as the judge has described it, but Blessington has so many more fouls. The prosecutor has repeatedly slammed the monsignor as a liar and the monsignor's defense lawyers as pampered, overpaid and whiny crybabies always trying to pull some last-minute maneuver to delay justice for their corrupt client. The best part for Blessington is that no matter how loud and obnoxious he gets, the judge never calls him on anything, a fact not lost on Lindy.
"It's remarkable that you're talking about me," Lindy said, glancing in the direction of Blessington. "I don't know why you're going off on me right now," Lindy said. But the judge was just getting started.
"You stated it quite emphatically," the judge lectured Lindy about the passport that the monsignor allegedly did not have. "It turns out that you were in fact wrong," the judge continued. "Where would you get that understanding?"
Lindy said he might have gotten the wrong information from a relative or another lawyer in the case. He attempted to apologize, but the judge treated Lindy like a kid late for detention.
"If you're chewing gum, please get rid of it," she said.
"Yes, Your Honor," Lindy meekly responded.
The defense called Rita DeCarolis to the stand. She's a senior citizen who has volunteered her home to be the site of Msgr. Lynn's house arrest. DeCarolis said her son's late wife was Lynn's sister. DeCarolis testified that she lives alone. "I'm free," she said to help out the monsignor. She also was willing to let probation officers inspect her house, and call at all hours to check on the monsignor.
Lindy told the judge that his client was 61 years old, had no prior record, and plenty of ties to the community. Lynn was under investigation for ten years by a grand jury and never went anywhere, Lindy said. The monsignor made at least a dozen appearances before the grand jury. He showed up every day for court during the 13-week trial, usually early.
"He is absolutely no risk" to flee, Lindy said. The judge asked Lindy what he would do if despite his promises, his client fled the Commonwealth.
Lindy seemed perplexed. He suggested he could walk on his hands, eat the paper that his motion for house arrest was printed on, do somersaults, flips or whatever the judge wanted.
She glared at him.
Lindy sat down, and it was Blessington's turn to pour some gasoline on the fire.
"I will be civil," Blessington promised. But within seconds, the prosecutor was talking about Lindy's "material misrepresentations" to the judge, like that passport that Lindy said the monsignor did not have.
Blessington then pulled out a Chicago Tribune story that talked about since 1985, 32 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse had absconded from the country. The Catholic Church, which paid for Lynn's high-priced lawyers, is a "very powerful" worldwide organization, Blessington said. If Lynn fled the country, he could put his collar back on and blend in as a priest anywhere around the world.
Blessington was only a few minutes into his spiel where he promised to be civil when he briefly returned to the subject of Lynn's behavior on the witness stand. All he did was "lie, lie and lie," Blessington said of the monsignor.
"We're not here to discuss that, Mr. Blessington," the judge said. Wow, a mild reprimand from the judge. It only took 14 weeks.
Blessington skipped over the monsignor's behavior and talked about the "insulting" conduct of the defense team, and how they were now trying to "beg the court's indulgence" to get a convicted felon like their client out of jail.
Blessington asked the judge to consider the "mirror quality of the conduct" of the defense team, and how they reflected their corrupt client. He even took a shot at DeCarolis, calling her "the daughter-in-law of the son-in-law of a third cousin."
Blessington then returned to the subject of Lynn's conduct.
"He has nothing but utter contempt for the legal process," the prosecutor yelled. He doesn't deserve a reprieve from jail, especially considering it was "incomprehensible that he [Lynn] wouldn't get the maximum sentence." Lynn faces 3 1/2 to 7 years in jail after being convicted on the charge of endangering the welfare of a child, a third-class felony.
Blessington said he didn't want anybody to do any special favors for Lynn. "He dare not jump ahead of anybody," in the line of inmates seeking house arrest, Blessington said.
The prosecutor said the hearing on a house arrest was a waste of time. Lynn's sentencing was only a month and a half way, on Aug. 13. The average wait for an inmate to be processed for house arrest is three or four weeks, the prosecutor said. So at the most, we're arguing about whether "a convicted felon" gets "three weeks of freedom," the prosecutor said. Why bother? He implored the judge not to "indulge these people after what they've done."
From the gist of what he was saying, the prosecutor was now lumping the defense lawyers in with their client as criminals.
Thomas Bergstrom, another defense lawyer, tried to get the conversation back on track. "I think he's entitled to bail," he told the judge. "Where's he gonna go?"
The judge announced a recess so she could read the Chicago Tribune story. She returned, saying that most of the priests mentioned in the story were fleeing to their native country, and skipping out while they were being investigated, or before their trials began. Lynn did not fit in any of those categories, his defense lawyers said.
The judge asked about bail. James Lynn, the monsignor's brother, stood and told the judge how he had put up $5,000, the 10 percent deposit required on $50,000 bail. The judge said that bail would be raised to $100,000, meaning Lynn's family has to cough up another $5,000.
Blessington wanted bail raised to $1 million, so the family's 10 percent deposit would be $100,000, but the judge said she thought that was excessive.
"There's no constitutional right to bail," Blessington said. Lynn also had changed circumstances.
"Now he's had a taste of jail," Blessington said. "He knows what jail is like." Therefore, the chances are increased that if he's put on house arrest, the monsignor will saw through that ankle bracelet, and make a break for it, the prosecutor said.
The judge asked Lynn if he knew that if he did try to escape, she would "most likely impose a maximum sentence in absentia?"
"Oh yes, Your Honor," Lynn replied.
And he would give up his rights to an appeal? Yes, he understood that as well.
Lindy tried to assure the judge that the monsignor was not a flight risk. Once again, the judge reminded Lindy that talk was cheap. What would you do if he flees, the judge said. Would you waive your fee?
"Absolutely," Lindy said. For this guy, sure, Lindy said. For some of my other clients, not so sure.
The judge gave the prosecutors a week to draft the extradition waiver.
Lynn seemed to think the idea that he would be granted asylum at the Vatican was far-fetched. The monsignor was overheard incredulously telling his lawyers, "The Vatican? The archdiocese of Philadelphia won't even talk to me."
Judge Sarmina set a hearing date of 9 a.m. July 5 to consider whether she will grant house arrest. But in the meantime, she told both sides to get the paper work going, so when July 5th rolls around, "I will enter the order at that time," the judge said.
Blessington asked the judge to stipulate that if she grants the house arrest, the only reason Lynn be allowed to leave is for medical emergencies. If his lawyers want to talk to him, they can drive over to see him.
But the judge did not commit to ordering the house arrest on July 5th. "I may or may not end up granting house arrest," she said. But she was definitely taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, but would return for that July 5th hearing on Thursday.
"Everybody enjoy your holiday," she said cheerfully as she left the bench for the day. Lynn said nothing as he sat at the defense table, awaiting the sheriff's deputies who would escort him back to jail.
After the hearing was over, Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti said he hoped the judge would ultimately decide that Lynn "be held without bail."
Letting somebody out of jail, the prosecutor warned, is "a bell that can't be unrung." Especially if Lynn decides to flee.
Outside the Criminal Justice Center, Lindy was shaking his head about the judge's theory that the monsignor might hole up at the Vatican.
"That was ridiculous," he said. Asked about the prosecutor, Lindy said, "I think he's way off the reservation. I've never seen anything like the prosecutor in this case."