BY KEN LITTLE
Lawyers for former Roman Catholic priest William Casey received a continuance to file a brief in Casey's appeal on child sex abuse charges he was convicted of in 2011.
Casey, 78, formally appealed his conviction on child sex abuse charges to the state Court of Criminal Appeals in July.
The deadline for a brief filed by defense lawyers Rick and Matthew Spivey -- necessary to move the process along -- was Nov. 30, but Spivey asked for and received a continuance last week to Jan. 16, an appeals court clerk said.
Casey was convicted in July 2011 by a Sullivan County Criminal Court jury of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated rape in connection with sex abuse of then-altar-boy Warren Tucker between 1978 and 1980.
At the time, Casey was serving as priest at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport.
Tucker, 48, now lives in Indiana. He has been following the progress of the appeal, according to friends and fellow members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
A long-time Camp Creek community resident and a former pastor of Notre Dame Catholic Church in Greeneville, Casey was sentenced by Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr. on Nov. 23, 2011, to serve a prison term of 35 to 40 years.
He will not be eligible for parole until at least 2026, when he is 92 years old.
Once Casey's defense lawyers file a brief, then the state will respond.
NOT SET FOR DOCKET
"The case is still in the briefs process. It has not been heard yet or set for docket," a Knoxville-based Appellate Court clerk said Tuesday.
In June, Judge Montgomery, Criminal Court judge for the 2nd Judicial District that comprises Sullivan County, denied a motion to grant Casey a new trial, or acquit him on the sex abuse charges of which he was convicted.
He is being held in protective custody at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Correction said.
At the June hearing in Sullivan County, Matthew Spivey cited what he said were errors by the prosecution during Casey's trial and closing argument, as well as the judge's consideration of a North Carolina sex abuse crime involving Tucker to which Casey pleaded guilty prior to his sentencing on the Tennessee conviction.
Matthew Spivey also called into question the credibility of prosecution witnesses and raised "due process" issues having to do with the fact that three decades elapsed between the time Casey committed the acts and when he was charged with them.
Matthew Spivey and his father have sought dismissal of the case on the basis of statute-of-limitations issues and the "ex post facto" law question, which refers to defendants' being charged on the basis of laws adopted after an act was committed.
Casey was, however, tried using state laws that were in place in the late 1970s, when the offenses occurred.
POINTS IN APPEAL MOTION
On Casey's behalf, Rick Spivey filed in December 2011 the motion appealing the conviction in Sullivan County Criminal Court. The motion was denied by Judge Montgomery in June 2012.
The 21-page motion maintained that there was insufficient evidence presented during the trial to convict Casey.
Nearly 100 "causes of action" are listed in the appeal motion, including:
* alleged errors by the court in not allowing the defense to cross-examine Tucker at a hearing prior to the trial;
* allowing "hearsay evidence" into the record based on Tucker's recollections from the late 1970s;
* and failing to dismiss the criminal indictment against Casey because of a "pre-accusatorial delay of more than 31 years."
* The appeal motion also raises issues related to the statute-of-limitations on the offenses.