State's High Court Postpones Week's Cases Due to Pending Turnover

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal
November 16, 2006

Frankfort, Ky. — Faced with a turnover of members, the state Supreme Court has postponed all oral arguments scheduled for this week -- including one involving a former priest appealing a Bullitt County sexual-abuse conviction.

Because of last week's elections, three new members of the seven-member court will be seated on or before Jan. 1.

Chief Justice Joseph Lambert's chief of staff, Jason Nemes, said if arguments had been held this week it would have meant the current court would have heard the arguments while the new court would have issued the rulings. He said it would have been likely the new court would want to rehear arguments in many of the nine cases. "It wouldn't have been fair to the new justices, lawyers or the parties," Nemes said.

The arguments have been rescheduled for February.

The cases include that of Daniel C. Clark, who was appealing his 2003 conviction on charges that he sexually abused two boys in Bullitt. His case was rescheduled for Feb. 14. Clark is serving a 10-year sentence.

Clark's attorney, David Lambertus, said in his appeal that his client deserves a new trial because a judge excluded evidence that he should have allowed and allowed testimony from another victim of Clark that he should have excluded.

Lambertus also argues that Bullitt Circuit Judge Thomas Waller failed to instruct the jury correctly.

The attorney general's office argues that Waller handled the trial correctly.

Clark, 58, who was removed from the priesthood in 2004, was one of the clerics at the center of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville's sex-abuse scandal.

He was accused in 19 lawsuits against the archdiocese -- including one filed by the Bullitt boys' mother on their behalf. The archdiocese eventually settled all the cases.

Clark was convicted on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse for molesting the two Bullitt boys between 1999 -- when one was 8 years old and the other 9 -- and 2002.

Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469.

Reporter Tom Loftus contributed to this story.


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