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Posted on Jan 15, 2002 Print this Article

PLAINTIFF LOHRENZ DESPERATELY SEEKING SUPPORTIVE STATEMENTS FROM FORMER COLLEAGU

There have been many delays in the case of Lohrenz v. Donnelly and CMR, filed in April of 1996. First the Plaintiff, former F-14 pilot Carey Dunai Lohrenz, tried unsuccessfully to get the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to impose a "gag order" on Elaine Donnelly during the litigation. In 1999, the Office of the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) began to interfere in the deposition process, even though the Navy is not a party to the litigation. Among other things, the Navy JAG asserted the right to deny or delay access to certain naval officers and personnel, whether active duty or retired. They also claimed the right to choose expert witnesses for CMR, to impose limitations on the officers’ testimony that were backed by threats of punishment, and to monitor all conversations between CMR attorneys and potential witnesses. The constantly changing rules, based on so-called "housekeeping regulations" that were interpreted by Lt. Cmdr. John Maksym and others in the JAG office, made it necessary for CMR to file separate litigation in 1999 to stop the interference. After an 18-month delay, the Court addressed and dismissed the case as nothing more than a "discovery dispute" in the underlying case, Lohrenz v. Donnelly. It was not. CMR attorneys maintain that precedents peculiar to the D.C. District Court permitted no option other than separate litigation. They filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and it was accepted and held in abeyance pending resolution of the underlying case, Lohrenz v. Donnelly. In the meantime, CMR learned in January that attorney Barnes has been conducting informal interviews and seeking written statements from active duty and retired naval officers, whom she thinks will support her failing case in some way. This has been done with the assistance of the Office of the Navy JAG, and without notice to CMR attorneys. Barnes’ December 29, 2001, Motion requesting an additional 30-day time extension stated that the JAG office had previously denied her requests to obtain written statements from certain officers until there was a clear need for them. CMR attorneys were not informed when or why that position changed following the Motion for Summary Judgment, which was filed in October 2001. At all times, the Office of the Navy JAG has claimed to be neutral and even-handed in the discovery process, despite actions and mandates that have worked to the advantage of the Plaintiff’s side. The December 29 petition filed by Susan Barnes continues to make claims previously discounted by testimony from her own client and others. The Motion claims, for example, that the Field Naval Aviation Evaluation Board (FNAEB) that removed Lohrenz from carrier aviation was later voided and "set aside." When asked to provide proof of this allegation during her deposition, Lohrenz was unable to do so. (The second of two Washington-based review boards subsequently allowed Lohrenz to fly ground-based aircraft, not the F-14.) Nor was attorney Barnes able to discover a shred of evidence to support her bogus "Tailhook Underground" conspiracy theory, which she set forth in a sworn affidavit that was used to support a separate lawsuit, filed against the Navy in 1998. Attorney Barnes’ affidavit was unsupported and false, but it was sufficient to extract a gratuitous $150,000 settlement from the Navy. The settlement also stipulated that Lohrenz would forego further litigation against the Navy and its officers, and resign from the Navy. Susan Barnes took a sworn deposition and informally interviewed several retired naval officers in the presence of the JAG and CMR attorneys in the fall of 1999. Some of the officers questioned were alleged to have been in league with Elaine Donnelly in trying to destroy the career of then-Lt. Lohrenz, but their statements, when interviewed, flatly contradicted basic allegations on which the conspiracy was based. Barnes has had every opportunity to depose Lt. Patrick J. Burns, one of Carey Lohrenz’ former instructors and a key figure in the case, but has allowed many months to pass without ever scheduling a deposition. Now she is in a mad scramble to find something that will overcome the huge body of discovery documents and testimony that totally discredit every element of her bogus lawsuit. Updates on the course of this litigation will be posted as events unfold. CL011502B The Center for Military Readiness is being represented by noted constitutional lawyer Kent Masterson Brown, Frank Northam, and Christopher Shaughnessy of the firm Webster, Chamberlain & Bean in Washington D.C. Tax-deductible contributions to the CMR Legal Defense Fund may be addressed to CMR/LDF, P. O. Box 51600, Livonia, Michigan 48151. For more information, please see additional Summaries and Legal Defense Updates in the Issues section of this website.
Posted on Jan 15, 2002 Print this Article