Tuesday, December 13, 2016

AGUON: "I HAVE TO WONDER WHERE WERE THESE CONCERNS..."

KUAM: Aguon question church's sudden interest in legislation

Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. is questioning the church's sudden interest in Bill 326. If you recall, the controversial legislation was introduced after several allegations of molestation were made against clergy. Although three public hearings were held, Aguon recently received a Freedom of Information Act request from Attorney John Terlaje who represents the Archdiocese of Agana. CONTINUED




SENATOR AGUON QUESTIONS THE INTENTION OF THE COUNSEL FOR ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF AGANA, A CORPORATION SOLE  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2016

Following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Attorney John C. Terlaje, Counsel for Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agana, a Corporation Sole, Senator Frank Blas Aguon, Jr. releases the following statement:  

"Bill 326-33 had more public visibility than most legislation in the 33rd Guam Legislature.  In addition to constant media coverage, my Committee scheduled three public hearings where many, many members of the community attended and provided both oral and written testimony.  The committee report was compiled, circulated amongst its members, reported out of my committee, and the substitute bill presented before the legislative body and unanimously passed.  At no point during this legislative process did the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agana, a Corporation Sole, voice any concern or objection to the legislative process or the bill.  Attorney John C. Terlaje, who has, on occasion, served as legislative counsel to the 33rd Guam Legislature, is well aware of the legislative process.  While I welcome his FOIA request on behalf of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Agana, a Corporation Sole, I have to wonder where were these concerns during the legislative process,"Senator Aguon said.  "Attorney Terlaje requests for any and all opinions of the legislative counsel (sic) regarding Bill 326-33.  However, the information requested remains confidential under attorney-client privilege- a privilege heavily relied on by any client seeking legal advice.  Why would Attorney Terlaje request such information in his FOIA request?  Additionally, any request for audio, video and visual recordings, including public hearings and legislative sessions should be made with the Sergeant-At-Arms of the legislature and not with my committee.  This request falls short of a subpoena which begs the question, what is the true nature of this request? My office is in the process of compiling any and all information requested in the FOIA and will respond where legally possible.  Just to be clear, once compiled, I will make these documents available to the public."
            
Attached: FOIA Request

For more information, please contact Senator Frank Blas Aguon, Jr. at 475.4861.




45 comments:

  1. Maybe Joe Santos would be willing to give the archdiocese the SILENT NO MORE! sign that he carried around in his truck for several months. I guess they were caught off guard. They had NO idea a bill to lift the statute of limitations was being moved forward. The picketers in front of the cathedral were just training for the Guam marathon. No one told them about the public hearings. The prayer vigils in front of the Governor's office were not publicized. There was no media coverage to alert them. THIS TOTALLY UNFAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry guys. You snooze, you lose.

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    1. Andrew, I was meaning to give the sign to the new museum but it appears I may have to start flying it again! Giving the new AB a chance, however, undermining the new law does not appear to me to be reaching out to the victims. The Chancery still does not seem to get it. To reach out means to seek those victims. Sitting on your ass waiting for a phone call isn't going to cut it. Visit the parishes. Set up meetings at each parish. Attacking the law is just another way that the Boston, Philadelphia, etc. dioceses' went about their business to bury their sins. Hope it does not happen on Guam. I remain "Silent No More!"

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    2. Andrew - it's hard to know what's going on around you when you have your head buried in the sand. This has been the posture of our Church leadership for the past decade. Attorney John (any relation to Jackie?) should check the Church's files first. Tony, David, and Adrian were keeping copious records of what was going on. Find them and he will have all the info he is looking for. LOL!

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    3. Joe, this may be a Detroit tactic.

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  2. extraordinary.as usual.

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  3. Byrnes is starting out just like Hon did.

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  4. Byrnes (via his legal counsel) demands, in item No. 1, “drafts” of the legislation. Byrnes needs a new legal counsel. 5 GCA § 10108(q) exempts "draft documents."

    § 10108. Limitation on Right of Inspection.
    Except as provided in § 10109 of this Chapter, nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to require disclosure of records that are any of the following:
    (q) Draft documents of an Agency.

    http://www.guamcourts.org/CompilerofLaws/GCA/05gca/5gc010.PDF

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  5. There's another possibility. The FOIA references "Archbishop of Agana." The Trained Lawyer still believes Tony is "Archbishop of Agana." She is also Tony's attorney. She and Tony would have the most to gain if they could find something illegal in the legislative process or a "conspiracy." They won't, but that doesn't mean they won't look. I'm not sure how John Terlaje would play into such a scenario, but it's possible that the Trained Lawyer, in order to hide who is really snooping around, asked or hired another attorney to write the FOIA letter. Once thing for certain, Archbishop Byrnes needs to clarify what the hell is going on and he needs to do it pronto.

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    1. It is apparent to me that the FOIA request asking for all inclusive information concerning Bill 326 is intended to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the Bill which is not a public law. I suspect that the challenge to the law is intended to strike it down and make it void based on an errant legislative process. This reminds me of the time when the Guam Legislature passed a law outlawing the performing of abortion on Guam. The law was challenged and the higher court struck it down as unconstitutional. Could Terlaje and the Archdiocese (Byrnes) being doing the same thing with Bill 326. BJ Cruz expressed this concern when the bill was initially formulated and introduced but chose not to oppose it and in the end was a strong supporter of the bill. If Archbishop Byrnes is supporting any effort to strike down PL 33-187, then one has to question where he genuinely stands with regard to the twelve sexual abuse victims that have filed suit against the Archdiocese.

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  6. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)December 13, 2016 at 10:35 PM

    We can speculate as to the reason for this FOIA. I will add my two cents of speculation. This can be part of the defense of the Archdiocese on the litigation on the clergy child abuse cases. Other than challenging of the facts, the law also is going to be challenged. That is normal litigation. To challenge the law as part of the Church’s defense, every inch of the law is going to be scrutinized by the Church’s counsel. In this context, Mr. Terlaje is doing his job. The first clergy abuse lawsuit(s) filed on Guam is/are going to be the test case on the 326-33 (COR). In the clergy abuse lawsuits, it is Mr. Terlaje’s job as counsel for the defense to shake this law and it is Mr. Lujan’s job as counsel for the plaintiffs to hold up this law and demonstrate it is solid.

    If this is part of the clergy child abuse litigation, then Abp Byrnes will not comment on this request, and rightly so, just as Walter and Roy and other plaintiffs will likely not comment on this FOIA either. It is not prudent to comment on an on-going litigation. The request is sweeping, asking for even “drafts” as Tim pointed out, which is not applicable to Guam’s Sunshine Act. But, it is normal to be broad and sweeping in FOIA requests because you don’t know what’s available. It is up to the respondent of the FOIA to prepare a written objection explaining why some of the items in the request will not be produced, usually citing to a law or code exempting the production of those materials.

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  7. Sounds like the trained lawyer is up to her shenanigans again. Jackie has such a bad rep she has to hide behind another lawyer.

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  8. i thought john terlaje stopped representing the "archbishop of agaña" some time ago. but anyway, it seems strange to be looking into a bill's history.

    one obvious objective would be to find something illegal or inorganic, hoping that it will nullify the law as passed.

    another possibility, though weird, would be to gather evidence of the lack of action on the bill from the previous archdiocesan leadership--maybe something to be used for internal church discipline.

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  9. I believe John Terlaje's sister is the legislature's legal counsel. John's dad, Ed, was the legal counsel for the Archdiocese of Agana (and the Corporation Sole). Ed is back to help the Archdiocese.

    Archdiocese should concentrate on trying to resolve the lawsuits against them before they go to court if they truly want to provide closure for the victims, instead of wasting time trying to find a flaw in the how bill 326 became law. Nothing there, John.

    Archbishop Byrnes and officials at the Chancery. . . Here's what you can do to help the victims and show your good faith to seek justice for them as well: Kick Adrian and David C. Quitugua out of this Archdiocese. Let them seek help from Kiko Arguello, since the NCW is good at taking care of evil priests; You were successful in getting property in Yona back under the Archdiocese of Agana, so now send these foreign seminarians back to their homes and let their bishops take care of them or send them to New Jersey and let Kiko Arguello and the Gennarinis take care of them; send these RMS priests ordained by Apuron to New Jersey also and let Kiko and the Gennarinis determine where to send them "on mission"--definitely they are not welcome on Guam; admonish and discipline religious, deacons and other priests who helped Apuron during his reign of terror:
    Deacon Frank Tenorio; Deacon Larry Claros; Deacon Dominic Kim; and Fr. Rudy Arejola. Lay down the law by publishing a decree on decisive action you are taking to remove these clergymen from ever serving the Archdiocese again. Retire these renegade deacons to their private lives, and remove Rudy Arejola from being incardinated here. Send him back to where he came from. You do all these and you will foster great goodwill with the people of Guam.

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  10. If Terlaje has in the past represented the Legislature, can he now represent the Archbishop against the Legislature? I smell something?

    BTW. I hope Byrnes is not behind this. It would be very bad as his first public act to attempt to take down a law that is the only thing allowing us to hold Apuron and his fellow monsters legally accountable after decades of horrific abuse.

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    1. The honeymoon would be over.

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    2. if byrnes was in fact aware of this move, then he certainly let it proceed. as they say, "on the advice of counsel."

      whether or not it's a typical move when lawsuits are concerned, it's definitely done in bad spirit. what happens if the law is struck down? will the church then wash its hands clean?

      on another note, any indication that "the two attorneys" who talked hon into opposing the bill at the last hour have any hand in this?

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    3. How could Byrnes not be aware of the letter. The lawyer wrote it on his behalf.

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    4. As a matter of law, the 33rd Guam Legislature is not the same as the 32nd or prior Guam Legislatures.

      Working for the legislative branch as a lawyer does not create a lifetime omnibus conflict of interest.

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    5. Is there a press conference by his eminence before flight time tomorrow of an explanation?

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    6. No. But it would be a good idea.

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  11. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)December 14, 2016 at 5:57 AM

    In these child sexual abuse cases, the Church straddles three worlds --- our faith, our legal system, and the world of the insurance business. Our religious beliefs of atonement (admitting mistakes, accepting responsibility, apologizing) often run counter to the legal principles of avoiding self-incrimination and preserving all avenues of defense. This is the real world. This is litigation. In the child sexual abuse cases against the archdiocese, as the cases progress, you’re going to see that our religious beliefs premised on forgiveness and getting along, create liability in the legal world, a world that's adversarial by nature. That is the conundrum of the Church as a defendant in these lawsuits. Add to those two worlds of religious and legal, the Church straddles a third world --- the world of the insurance business. The insurance company has a contract with the church that says, 'If we're going to put our assets on the line, we want you to perform in a way that protects our assets and interests.' Church officials often face a wrenching dilemma: If they do what they feel is right in the eyes of God, they can put their church at risk of financial claims that could end its existence. For the lawyers and insurers obligated to protect those churches, the decisions are equally difficult: If church officials make admissions that suggest liability for the damage caused by sexual abuse or other wrongdoing, the resulting claims could ravage the insurance company. Satisfying those needs while shielding the church from liability is the most delicate task of lawyering in this situation. This often results in discussions between the church, the insurer and its lawyers to a find a way for the church to express the sense of the wrongness of the conduct and to be sorry it happened without inappropriately taking legal responsibility. I bring this up so that you can see the complex situation that it is for the Church and thinking twice about making statements on every legal move it makes.

    Also, I’m almost certain the Abp. Byrnes doesn’t use up his day sitting around with his lawyers strategizing and/or commanding the next legal move on these lawsuits. His work day is likely consumed by archdiocesan business, particularly works that will advance some of the goals he may have set as his agenda to straighten out the archdiocese. Certainly, matters relating to the sexual abuse lawsuits and the defamation lawsuit are part of that agenda sot, while he keeps his pulse in the litigation activities, his days are likely eaten up with other archdiocesan matters.

    Finally, while settlement is ideal, settlement is also up to the plaintiffs and their legal strategy. There was a sense this past summer that these childhood clergy abuse cases were brought forth in part to expose, not only Abp. Apuron and his aiders and abettors, but also the practice of the Church to shuffle around and even protect priest molesters instead of decommissioning those priests from service. Given that this is part of plaintiffs’ litigation agenda, their willingness to settle these cases may not materialize. Or, if they do, settlement will likely happen toward the end of litigation, after most, if not all, of the facts have been found in the discovery process. If settlement does happen, I would like to see settlement ONLY with the archdiocese; and leaving Abp Apuron, in his capacity as a private individual and the perpetrator in these abuse cases (and his aiders and abettors --- Fr. David-the-Lurch, Presbyter Adrian, Fr. Pius-the-Putrid, I know these folks are not currently named defendants, but that me doing my wishful thinking …). Remember folks, this litigation is a delicate balance and is is difficult for all involved --- the plaintiffs, the faithful, and the archbishop --- because our faith and litigation call for almost opposite approaches.

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    1. Actually our system of civil law grows out of canon law and canon law reflects Divine law. Forgiveness does not replace Justice.

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    2. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)December 14, 2016 at 6:56 AM

      Thank you, Tim. I'm not addressing forgiveness here. I'm addressing the legal process as it is played out in our court system and in litigation. Like you, I want justice of the plaintiffs. And justice for Abp. Apuron and his goons.

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    3. Sadly what we see here is NOT a grappling with wrenching decisions but a gross attempt to undermine the law and impugn all those associated with it for nothing other than a personal vendetta. Did you know that Vice Speaker Cruz was also FOIA'd for his bill in 2011!

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    4. Rose states: "Church officials often face a wrenching dilemma: If they do what they feel is right in the eyes of God, they can put their church at risk of financial claims that could end its existence."

      But my grandma used to say: The Church can survive without gold and treasures, but it cannot survive without morals.

      Too often, we worry about the temporal cost of this or that, and completely disregard the moral consequences. If a decision needs to be made, I hope the Church chooses the morally just course, regardless of possible temporal consequences.

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    5. Thank you, Rose, for your highly knowledgeable commentary.

      This fully comports with my limited involvement in insurance defense litigation decades ago.

      Your final paragraph is particularly insightful, and not mere wishful thinking.

      It is not unprecedented for settlements to include reservations of rights and assigments of causes of action against non-settling defendants.

      Nothing says a plaintiff has to settle against all defendants, or do so simultaneously.

      Allowing the plaintiffs to collect additional damages against the perpetrators and conspirators personally would serve both divine and human restorative justice.

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    6. I didn't phrase my last comment right. In addition to FOIA-ing Aguon, Byrnes also FOIA'd Respicio and Cruz relative to the Cruz' 2011 bill.

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    7. Also, relative to Rose's statement as follows:

      "Church officials often face a wrenching dilemma: If they do what they feel is right in the eyes of God, they can put their church at risk of financial claims that could end its existence."

      Capital C Church cannot "end its existence, " for it is the eternal Bride of Christ and the "gates of hell shall not prevail." The local small c church can certainly run into financial difficulties, but the people of this diocese have shown that they are willing for it to be totally gutted and start again if necessary. If there is any message that has been clear over the last three years and especially the last year it is that we no longer desire a church that "straddles" anything. Come clean or get out. Whatever the cost. In any event, the local church was collapsing under the weight of decades of institutional evil anyway, long before the passage of this bill. Pews have been emptying for decades, especially under Apuron.

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    8. exactly what tim says.

      regardless of the motivations of the personalities involved, to us regular folk who can only see from the outside, this is just the latest demonstration of the church (small 'c') trying to cling to whatever it had before. no more of that! the faithful have shown that they're willing to let go of the riches, the power, the glory, etc, of the guam church of old, if that's what it will take for justice to be accomplished and true restoration and renewal to take place.

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    9. Trumps statement applies to the Church on Guam..."It's TIME TO DRAIN THE SWAMP"!!! Time to get rid of decades of evil, corruption, greed. It may cost the church of Guam millions but if it will save souls and bring people back to the church and to Jesus Christ, it will be worth it.

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    10. Not too many camels passing through that eye.

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    11. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)December 15, 2016 at 5:30 AM

      Thank you, Everyone on this thread, for your comments. There is so much to share on this topic and I have to try to stay focused with the point I’m trying to make. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m simply addressing the litigation aspect of this FOIA --- if, in fact, the FOIAs (I understand from the comments above that there are multiple FOIAs now since yesterday. Correct me if I’m wrong.). I’m not even sure if the FOIA we are discussing is part of the clergy child abuse litigation, but for the purposes of this discussion, let's pretend that it is. Again, my intent to is give some explanation on the events, twists-turns, that happen in litigation. My writing is not addressing the Plaintiffs’ legal strategies or the Abp Byrnes strategies or knowledge of every step taking in this litigation. My intent is to enlighten you somewhat on the litigation process as it applies to this FOIA topic.

      Presuming that the FOIA is part of the clergy child abuse litigation, as I mentioned above, it is the defendants’ duty to shake up the law the brought the lawsuit in the first place. And it is equally the Plaintiffs' duty to make the law stick. At the very basic level please try to recall your 9th grade civics class on how a law comes to life --- (1) the legislature writes the bill; (2) the governor enacts it, makes it into a law; and (3) the court system decides the meaning of law, how to apply it to real situations, and whether a law breaks the rules of the Constitution. As to Bill 326-33 now public law 33-187, we went through Phases 1 and 2 this past August and September. That was euphoric for those of us who desired such a law in Guam's codes. The clergy child abuse cases that were filed after this law was enacted now serve as a backdrop for Phase 3 to take place. In our democracy, for a law to “stick” in the books, it has to go through the NATURAL courses of Phases 1, 2 and 3. We are now in Phase 3. We have to allow the natural course of litigation to play out. This is our democracy and this is our judicial system at work.

      Having explained that previous tidbit, it is an obligation and also a duty by both Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ counsel to litigate to the best of their abilities to put this law to the test and make the court decide if the law applies favorably to their clients’ situations. The Court and/or the jury will decide in the end to whose situation and in what way PL 33-187 serves Guam. Someone in this thread mentioned Sen. Cruz’s reservations about certain parts of the law passing muster in the courts. Even Gov. Calvo’s letter accompanying the signed law outlined the technical and legal concerns about the law, and looked to the court system to sort it out. So we are now in the phase where we are putting PL 33-187 to the test.

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    12. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)December 15, 2016 at 5:33 AM

      My haunch is that the FIOA is not a surprise to Mr. Lujan. As an experienced litigator and one who benefits from the collective wisdom and experience of other counsel who are part of Plaintiffs’ Bar on clergy sexual abuse cases, he would have already known this move would take place. It is part of the litigation “playbook” to shake down the law. My hope hangs on him and his team’s work to thwart off any motions that will take down the law; my hope hangs on the creative legal strategies and the use of standard ones that have been tested elsewhere to keep PL 33-187 in the books.

      Lastly, there are many great points on this thread but I want to stay focused on this other important point. I want you to see when we say that Roy, Walter, Roland and Sonny are brave to bring forth their lawsuit against the Church, most of us only think in terms of the emotional toll their child abuse experience has brought to them and to their families; we also think about the difficulty in their going public with the intimate details of their experiences. I want to point out that in addition to those things, their courage also lies in putting their names as plaintiffs in these lawsuits so that PL 33-187 can be put to the test and, with the tenacious legal work of Mr. Lujan, my hope is that the law will stick for other childhood sexual abuse survivors who file cases after theirs.

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    13. Rose de los Reyes (Seattle, WA)December 15, 2016 at 5:52 AM

      Another “lastly,” I had been thinking about how much I hate this situation where I feel for and support the Plaintiffs in their sexual abuse lawsuit against the archdiocese. Then, on the other hand, I want to see the archdiocese get back on track from all the mess it faces, including the mess of the sexual abuse lawsuits and non-lawsuits. I support both parties in their challenges, yet I feel that if I support one, it means I’m not supporting the other. It’s a feeling of being torn. Which then led me to think that perhaps this is what children of divorced parents feel where they love both, yet feel forced to take sides. This is likely what many of the Faithful experience. So this should be a lesson to the local Church leadership to guard the Church so that these types of situations don’t happen again; situations that make the Faithful feel that they are in a love-hate relationship with the Church.

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    14. A foia isn't part of the lawsuit. It's just Byrnes' fishing expedition to play politics. Nobody from the church even testified at the public hearing.

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  12. If I stole a thousand dollars from you, then came to you admitted my crime and asked for your forgiveness, and you said you forgive me, do I still have to pay you back? As Tim said, "forgiveness does not replace justice."

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  13. I remember that Tim's FOIA requests (Lickin' Louie arrest, the Certificate Fiasco) were somewhat unlucky...

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    1. Yes, given the ridiculous (almost subpoena-like) demands of this FOIA, it appears that the Archbishop of Agana, A Corporation Sole, is just trying to get lucky. Whether that "Archbishop" is Byrnes or Apuron, is not clear.

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  14. A major purpose of the Archdiocese's FOIA or Sunshine Act request is to dig up proof that the Catholic Church was the real (only?) intended target of the bill in order to try to attack its constitutionality.

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    1. Yep. That's what they are doing. I'm still hoping that Byrnes is not aware of this. Given the decades of evil in this diocese and the number of children destroyed, it hardly serves him, even if it is a clever strategy, as his first public act, to go after the constitutionality of the legislation. SMH. Still thinking that this is the trained lawyer working with some other insiders.

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    2. Around here, these days, you don't come out at night... unless with hammer and stake.

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    3. Let me get this. Instead of the usual excuse, "but everybody else is doing it", they are now saying, "aw shucks, no-one else was doing it!"

      ???????

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  15. How could Jackie Terlaje act without Archbishop Byrnes knowledge and consent.?
    .

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    1. The trained lawyer would never do this openly. It appears to have been packaged by others. But the only real beneficiary of overturning the law would be Apuron. He's the only defendant living with real assets

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