State Appeals Court
Is Asked To Reverse
Judge's Ruling Or
Grant A New Trial
BY KEN LITTLE
A legal brief filed this week with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on behalf of former Roman Catholic priest William Casey seeks reversal of his sex crime convictions in Tennessee, or a new trial.
Casey, 79, 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, a long-time resident of the Camp Creek community of Greene County, was serving as priest at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport.
REVERSE IS SOUGHT
The 68-page brief requests that the court "reverse his conviction and dismiss the indictment against him with prejudice."
Alternately, "The appellant requests that the court grant him a new trial due to the cumulative errors and constitutional violations which occurred."
The brief was filed Tuesday with the appellate court by Kingsport lawyers Matthew Spivey and his father, Richard Spivey. The Spivey law firm also defended Casey at his criminal trial.
The brief requests oral arguments before the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Casey has a "strong argument" on the due-process issue, Matthew Spivey said Thursday in an interview with The Greeneville Sun.
"We have taken the next step with the appeals process and have filed that brief," he said.
The appellate court has 30 days to respond to the points raised in the brief. Casey's defense lawyers will then have a "brief time window" to respond to the state, Spivey said.
Casey, a former pastor of Notre Dame Catholic Church in Greeneville, was sentenced by Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr. on Nov. 23, 2011, to serve a prison term of 35 to 40 years.
He is serving the time at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City.
Casey will not be eligible for parole until at least 2026, when he is 92-years-old.
ISSUES RAISED IN BRIEF
Four issues are presented for review by the state Court of Criminal Appeals in the legal brief.
The first issue questions whether the prosecution of Casey "after a delay in excess of 30 years, when material witnesses are deceased and memories have faded," was a due-process violation of Casey's rights.
Such a violation would require "that the verdict be overturned and the indictment dismissed."
The second issue raised in the appeal asks "whether the trial court erred by refusing to reopen the appellant's motion to dismiss (the) hearing when the state failed to provide statements of Tucker at Casey's motion-to-dismiss hearing.
The statements were from interviews of the victim by police detectives in Kingsport and North Carolina.
This section of the brief also questions the trial court's consideration of Casey's criminal conviction in North Carolina, his inability to cross-examine Tucker, "and other evidence of a lesser or different kind."
The third issue raised in the brief questions whether the trial court erred by refusing Casey's request for special jury instructions and by considering "inadmissible evidence" at a Rule 12 (suppression of evidence) hearing.
The fourth issue raised in the brief questions whether the trial court erred by refusing to declare a mistrial "related to the court's implication of (Casey's) Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination" and also the state's "improper closing argument, all of which combined with the other errors raised, caused a cumulative impact warranting a new trial."
The brief refers to a discussion between Casey and Diocese of Knoxville Deacon Dean Smith that "amounted to improper implication in violation of the appellant's right against self-incrimination."
TRIED BY 1970S LAWS
Casey was tried using state laws that were in place in the late 1970s, when the offenses occurred.
In June 2012, Judge Montgomery, Criminal Court judge for the 2nd Judicial District that comprises Sullivan County, denied a defense motion to grant Casey a new trial, or to acquit him on the sex abuse charges of which he was convicted.
That decision by the judge prompted the appeal to the higher court.
Tucker, 47, 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).
The legal brief filed this week has no impact on a 2010 case in North Carolina in which Casey pleaded guilty to "a crime against nature" in sexually abusing Tucker in that state more than 30 years ago.