In today’s paper, there’s an article about the Episcopal School of Dallas adding another high profile attorney to its already burgeoning defense team in the civil lawsuit stemming from a teacher’s alleged affair with a student. State Sen. Royce West joined ESD’s legal team on July 8, the same day Judge D’Metria Benson announced a July 25 trial date. In response to this news and oh so much more, Charla Aldous, who is representing the family known as the Does, had this statement.
“It’s been a very interesting case, and it hasn’t even started yet,” Aldous said Monday.
Well, five days later the quote still applies.
Yesterday, I attended what I can only assume was one of the more contentious pre-trial hearings. I say assume because all but 10 minutes took place inside Judge Benson’s private chambers.
Two minutes before the scheduled hearing was to begin, a court clerk relayed the message that one attorney from each side was to join Benson privately. West, who has been on the case a whopping six days, took the lead and joined Aldous backstage. About 15 minutes later, West, perhaps remembering his title is co-counsel, emerged and waved in lead counsel Chrysta Castañeda.
For the next two hours, the rest of the attorneys discussed family vacations to Disney World (Splash Mountain was a fan favorite), the Harry Potter series and its less popular cousin literature Percy Jackson and The Olympians, and the history of the judge’s chambers.
My sentiment was apparently echoed by Aldous’ co-counsel Brent Walker, who alternately whistled a tune and tossed his wedding ring to and fro in the air.
At 5:40 p.m., after attorneys for both sides have exhausted conversations about popular culture, Benson calls the court into session. She proceeded to speed-talk her way through dozens of denials and approvals of various motions.
Here are the highlights:
1. The defense’s motion requesting an independent medical exam of the alleged victim, Jane Doe II, was denied.
2. The defense’s motion requesting to evaluate Jane Doe II’s computer for forensic evidence was granted.
3. The plaintiff’s motion requesting a list of all female students expelled from ESD since 1995 involving Father Stephen Swann and/or Rebecca Royall (chief academic officer) was granted.