Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, November 11, 2005

Former judge declines post

Referee cites conflict, drops out

By David Baker
Posted July 12, 2007

The retired judge who was appointed to referee the depositions in the case against Samaritan Hospital has dropped out – after discovering that the law firm he works for has represented the hospital’s medical malpractice insurance company in “many of their cases.”

The lawyer, former state Supreme Court Judge Robert Doran, had been appointed to oversee the depositions back in May. The appointment was made at the request of the lawyers representing the hospital, without any consultation or discussion with me. As I reported at the time, the judge agreed to the request without any discussion, and instantly appointed Doran.

But in a letter sent to the judge this week, Doran says he thinks someone else should get the job.

“It has come to my attention that the insurance carrier for the defendants is one that uses our law firm for many of its cases,” he writes. “Under the circumstances, I feel that a different referee should be appointed even if technically there may not be a conflict.”

Of course there would be a conflict. Which leaves me wondering about the integrity of this whole process – and just why the lawyers at the three firms fighting this claim feel they need a referee in the first place.


Meanwhile, my former lawyer, Cynthia LaFave, has hired an attorney to defend her in her deposition in my case against Steve Coffey.

Normally ‘non-party’ witnesses don’t need an attorney to represent them at a deposition – unless they feel they might be asked for information that could be used against them. Like defendants or witnesses in a criminal case, they can ‘take the fifth’ and refuse to answer a question, on the grounds that to do so might incriminate them.

The deposition of LaFave – and of Coffey and co-defendant Brendan Tully – will likely take place during August.