Incomplete investigation in Albany

Incomplete investigation in Albany

The lawyer hired by the bishop of Albany criticized a victims’ lawyer for failing to come across with evidence. Mary Jo White issued an ultimatum to John Aretakis last week to come up with any evidence against Bishop Howard Hubbard or she’d go on without it.

White is Hubbard’s lawyer. Why should Aretakis, who may sue Hubbard and the diocese on behalf of his clients, give up his evidence to her? She is not an independent investigator; she is a partisan investigator. She’s paid by the diocese to write a report. What are the odds that report will be critical of Hubbard? If Aretakis cooperates and she clears Hubbard, that will do a lot of damage to the pursuit of truth. Other lawyers agree. Of course, Aretakis did agree to meet with White if she allowed the media to be present and ask question, but she declined. Of course.

Whatever the result of White’s investigation and report, many questions will remain unanswered.

1 comment
  • I don’t know if it’s accurate to describe White as Hubbard’s lawyer. 

    It’s true that White was retained by the diocesan review board, an arm of the diocese appointed by Hubbard, and that the diocese is paying White’s firm’s bills, which naturally would raise concerns about her impartiality and thoroughness and would suggest that one should take long odds on her report being seriously critical of Hubbard.

    But that doesn’t automatically mean that she is Hubbard’s lawyer, with all the ethical obligations that go along with the attorney client relationship.  The only way we’d be certain of the nature of the relationship among the diocese, Hubbard and White is to examine the letter or contract by which she was retained.  I would expect that it would state clearly that White’s firm is not and will not be counsel to the diocese or Hubbard in any matters arising from or related to the investigation, and that Hubbard would waive any privileges or confidences that might otherwise attach if there were an attorney client relationship.  There are other ways to possibly structure the relationship.

    In any event, according to newspaper accounts, Aretakis has rightly asked for a copy of White’s retainer letter, and White declined to provide a copy but agreed to allow him to review it.  Aretakis said, no dice (I guess he needs a copy to issue as a press release).  Aretakis countered that he’d meet with White if the media were present, and White of course declined.  Obviously, Aretakis is looking for another press conference/photo op, not a meeting.  (White has said she’ll release the retainer letter at the time she issues her final report.)

    I don’t trust Hubbard, have doubts about White, but I completely distrust Aretakis as well.  He’s certainly no more pursuing truth than the people he’s accusing.  IMO, he’s showing himself to be a grandstander and media hound of the first order.