Saturday, May 30, 2015

POSTED: Friday, May 22, 2015, 3:10 PM
Msgr. William J. Lynn leaves the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia on Jan. 6. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
It’s been three weeks since Msgr. William J. Lynn was sent back to prison after the state Supreme Court reinstated his 2012 conviction and sentence for child endangerment in the Catholic Church priest sex abuse scandal.

For the 64-year-old Lynn, the first church official convicted for a supervisory role over deviant clergy, it’s become a question of waiting behind bars or returning to house arrest while his lawyers continue appealing.

Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn’s lawyer, said Friday he plans to visit Lynn on Wednesday to discuss whether he wants to petition the Superior Court to free him on bail pending his new appeals.

Joe Slobodzian @ 3:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 2:47 PM

The recent report about inaccurate and erroneous testimony by FBI hair analysts – in 96 percent of cases – continues to draw public interest and concern. Read article:

On Tuesday, the leadership of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote FBI Director James Comey requesting him to provide committee members a briefing by May 22 on the preliminary findings of the ongoing review by the FBI, U.S. Justice Department, Innocence Project of New York and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“The scope of this catastrophe is almost impossible to believe,” reads the letter signed by committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) and ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland. “Our criminal justice system – and people’s very freedom – relies on the integrity of FBI analysts’ reports and testimony. To learn that the FBI systematically provided erroneous information and biased report results in matters of life and death is shocking and obviously unacceptable.”

Joe Slobodzian @ 2:47 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 12:05 PM
Police say Christopher Murray, 48, confronted his 46-year-old wife, Connie Murray, in Pennypack Park when she went for a jog, then strangled her.

It looks like Christopher Murray, the Northeast man charged with strangling his wife last Aug. 5 along the edge of Pennypack Park, will be pleading guilty.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore confirmed the move Wednesday after Murray’s attorneys, Andrea Konow and Roger Schrading, made the request during a pretrial hearing before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner.

Pescatore said the guilty plea would likely take place May 26, Murray’s next pretrial hearing before Lerner.

Joe Slobodzian @ 12:05 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2015, 4:04 PM

You’ve probably heard of lawyer-client privilege: a lawyer is ethically prohibited from disclosing information learned from a client without the client’s permission.

That’s the abstract definition. In real life, maintaining attorney-client privilege can get messy and rarely does it get more difficult than it did last week for Center City criminal defense lawyer Mary T. Maran.

In 2013, Maran was hired to represent Keith Tolbert, a Center City nursing student who paid the bills by working as a pimp. Tolbert was arrested and charged with murder in the Aug. 26, 2013 death of Francis Zarzycki, 40, a Northeast mortgage broker who had used Tolbert to meet with prostitutes.

Joe Slobodzian @ 4:04 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 2:02 PM

There was a lot of support Tuesday for the family of Alejandro Rojas-Garcia, the 34-year-old man shot to death Jan. 24 as he sat in his new Chevrolet Trailblazer outside a Feltonville after-hours club.

Three of those supporters did not know Rojas-Garcia, son of an official of the Gloucester County NAACP, but all were now related through the shared agony of losing a loved one to violence.

“It’s so important for the public to know about this,” said Rosalind Pichardo, who founded Operation Save Our City after her brother, Alex Martinez, 22, was shot to death during a Jan. 9, 2012 robbery in the 3500 block of North Hutchinson Street in North Philadelphia.

Joe Slobodzian @ 2:02 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 1:41 PM

Is the debate about why the United States imprisons so many people having an impact?

Yes, but slowly, although some states have significantly reduced their prison populations over the last decade, according to a report released Wednesday by The Sentencing Project, the Washington, D.C.-based advocate for sentencing and prison reform.

Nationally, the total U.S. prison population of 2.2 million people has dropped 2.4 percent since 2009 – still no threat to the current U.S. title for imprisoning more of its citizens than any other country. A total of about $80 billion a year in taxpayer money is spent on maintaining inmates and the prisons and personnel who hold them.

Joe Slobodzian @ 1:41 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 3:30 PM
John Hart is going to trial for allegedly stalking CBS3 anchor Erika von Tiehl. She's one of many alleged victims. (Photo illustration)

Maybe it’s all the courtroom dramas on TV that make people think they can act as their own lawyer.

It's certainly not the amateurs’ long list of acquittals.

We’ve seen 62-year-old ex-Philadelphia sportscaster Don Tollefson burning calories as he shuttles between witness box and defense table in Bucks County trying to represent himself against charges he ripped off hundreds who purchased sports event tickets, travel and hotel rooms believing it would benefit what prosecutors say were bogus children’s charities.

Joe Slobodzian @ 3:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 4:30 PM

No one will ever associate the word surrender with the name Kermit Barron Gosnell.

What to do if you’re 73 and serving three consecutive life sentences for killing infants born alive during illegal late-term abortions? Take your case to the U.S. Supreme Court, of course.

Not Gosnell's convictions for murder after a sensational 2013 trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. After that verdict – staring at a possible death penalty – the former West Philadelphia abortionist quickly reached an agreement to waive his appeal rights and serve the rest of his life in prison if prosecutors did not press for a death sentence.

Joe Slobodzian @ 4:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Inquirer reporter Joe Slobodzian covers the courts and writes about the people who find themselves there and what they face.

You can reach Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or Reach Joseph A. at

Joseph A. Slobodzian
Also on
letter icon Newsletter