24 June 2009

Update of Legal Analysis on D&P Situation

I was asked in the comments section of this post to update the legal analysis I'd done on March 20 of the D&P situation in light of the new evidence that has come to light recently. (Read the original post here.)

Essentially, in the original post I used my legal training to outline the facts of the case and analyze it. The conclusion I came to in that post was "Lifesite has met the burden of proof to show D&P partners with groups who support abortion." I said at the end of the post that I would be willing to revisit that conclusion if other evidence came to light, and that is what I intend to do in this post.

I am assuming that the evidence the commenter wanted me to deal with is Archbishop Weisberger's announcement that the CCCB finds no wrong doing by D&P. (If there is other evidence I'm supposed to be considering, please point me in the right direction and I will analyze it as well.)


As I stated on March 20, in a civil case (which is what this would be) the burden on proof is on the persona making the allegations to prove on the balance of probabilities that their allegations are true. The civil standard of balance of probabilities means 51%; it does not mean beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant side (D&P because the allegations were made against them) has to show an equally plausible alternative argument to win the case.

My point on March 20 was that D&P had not done that- they had not refuted the allegations, just denied them, so Lifesite won the civil case.

The report of the investigation carried out by the CCCB has not become public yet, and as far as I can determine, the CCCB does not plan to release it to the public. Without reading that report, and analyzing its evidentiary value, D&P has not refuted the allegations. Bishop Weisberger has simply made a statement that the investigation finds no wrongdoing by D&P. He is entitled to make that statement, but no court in the common law system would accept that pronouncement as evidence. In fact, an unsubstantiated statement would never be admitted to be heard in a court case at all. The court would need to see the report, and would not likely even allow the Archbishop to testify; they would tell him to submit the report. Without the report, his statement is simply a hollow denial.

The purpose of my March 20 post was to analyze the situation from a legal perspective- the law does not take into account the Church hierarchy and authority- it simply looks at the facts and evidence and analyzes them. Without the key piece of evidence (the report) the situation has not changed since my post of March 20, so neither can my conclusion.

In fact, more allegations have been made since that post- a total of 19 D&P partners are alleged to support abortion. The Peruvian Bishops Commission on the Family has released a public letter (here) asking the CCCB to withdraw support to 3 groups in Peru because of their support of abortion. This story has been picked up by Vatican Radio (here). These developments, along with others I've posted about in the last months, give more credence to Lifesite than they do to D&P.


Remember that this is an exercise in analyzing this situation under Canadian law as if it were an actual civil case, I am compelled to stand by my conclusion of March 20. D&P has not produced any evidence that refutes the allegations.

Lifesite's allegations were all cited- you could examine the evidence for yourself. D&P and the CCCB have not produced any evidence against which to test their assertions. That's why Lifesite wins this if it's treated as a civil case.

I am more than willing to revisit this again if more evidence comes to light, but it needs to be evidence- like the CCCB's report. Until I find that evidence, this is the conclusion I have to draw. If you think there is evidence that I've forgotten about, please let me know- either in the comments section or by e-mail to catholiclawstudent@gmail.com.

1 comment:

Steven said...

Hi Sarah,

Now that the CCCB report has been released, would this change your analysis? I saw your post/analysis form July 1, but it doesn't seem to approach the subject from the perspective of your legal training (as you did in March).

In this post, you say that Archbishop Weisgerber's public declarations were "an unsubstantiated statement that would never be admitted to be heard in a court case at all." How would you characterize the CCCB report, given that it doesn't really address the evidence presented against D&P?