Taxpayers on hook for legal bills of state officials in Gosnell case

posted at 10:55 am on February 2, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

As if the case of Kermit Gosnell wasn’t ghastly enough for Pennsylvanians horrified by the state’s failure to stop the carnage at his abortion clinic, the taxpayers got another rude shock from Fox 29 in Philadelphia, this one in their wallets. The bill for legal representation for state officials subpoenaed by the grand jury that uncovered the nightmare of the Women’s Medical Society will have to be covered by taxpayers, and the bill has already exceeded $100,000 (via Lifenews):

Taxpayers Stuck With Gosnell Case Bills: MyFoxPHILLY.com

Records obtained through the governor’s office indicate that Pennsylvania taxpayers shelled out thousands of dollars to nine private lawyers who went before the grand jury representing state Department Of Health officials and others.

They were being questioned in connection with what they did and didn’t do in the Gosnell case.

The total cost to taxpayers was over $116,000.

The lawyers were hand picked by a Center City law firm that earned over $50,000 in fees.

Outrageous? In one sense, no. The public officials were subpoenaed as part of their work-related activities. The grand jury needed their testimony to determine how Gosnell got away with murdering live, delivered babies for years, if not decades, and that meant issuing subpoenas to those whose responsibility it was to inspect Gosnell’s clinic, follow up on cases of malpractice, and pursue investigations in cases of death and mayhem.

The outrage comes from the fact that none of these people did their jobs.  The grand jury report shows that they spent most of their efforts on Gosnell either actively ignoring the mounting damage Gosnell was inflicting or rationalizing that it was someone else’s problem. The “right to representation” doesn’t mean that taxpayers should be on the hook for the bill, especially when outside counsel is hired.  Instead of getting high-priced attorneys on the public’s dime, they should have either had the public defender’s office, or paid their own way to explain their utter dereliction of duty.


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The gut twists itself into knots, just thinking about the outright wickedness of these people.

Reviling beyond description.

KinleyArdal on February 2, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I say we throw them all in jail for being accessories to murder!

Also, they should pay for their own hired guns to defend the indefensible.

UnderstandingisPower on February 2, 2011 at 11:00 AM

I thought covering your legal expenses was only for when you were performing your duties AS EXPECTED. (e.g., you don’t pay the mayor’s legal bill for vehiclular homicide). Seems like GROSS negligence in the performance of offical duties would sever the expenses clause.

Larr on February 2, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Instead of getting high-priced attorneys on the public’s dime, they should have either had the public defender’s office, or paid their own way to explain their utter dereliction of duty.

If they were fired immediately, would they still be eligible to receive this perk??? They should all be in jail with Gosnell as accessories to murder!

huskerdiva on February 2, 2011 at 11:04 AM

This is state sponsored terrorism. Germany always claimed they didn’t know what the Nazi’s were doing. Do we know what we are doing?

Herb on February 2, 2011 at 11:06 AM

If they were fired immediately, would they still be eligible to receive this perk??? They should all be in jail with Gosnell as accessories to murder!

huskerdiva on February 2, 2011 at 11:04 AM

I 100% agree!!!

capejasmine on February 2, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Luckily, no lives were lost and the trauma of grand jury intrusion into their lives may leave only a faint emotional scar.

a capella on February 2, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Place him into the loving arms of Moloch.

Inanemergencydial on February 2, 2011 at 11:10 AM

The one person who the grand jury blamed the most gets to “retire” and walks out the door with a lump payment of 140,000 dollars and monthly retirement benefits of 6,700 dollars.

THAT is outstanding work right there if you can get it. Of course the job requires that you have no soul.

Mord on February 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Unreal! Like a horror story in some novel. Not the money so much as the events. And..I’m going to say it, what about the mother’s in these situations? Were they not told or did they not understand the seriousness of the particular event they were sanctioning? Where is the line drawn, is there a line? Should there be a line? Yes, I think so. There’s a point, and it has been reached here, where we cannot let these off the hook either. Now, pounce if you must but it’s a side of this issue as yet untouched. Perhaps a side with no solutions???

jeanie on February 2, 2011 at 11:13 AM

The “right to representation” doesn’t mean that taxpayers should be on the hook for the bill

great point Ed. Anything that is, by definition, a right, should not obligate anyone else beyond themselves to do anything to create that right. Defining ‘healthcare’ or ‘representation’ as a right, shouldn’t obligate a doctor nor a taxpayer to supply that to anyone. Life is a “right” in the truest sense of the word, and it neither obligates a doctor, nor a taxpayer to supply a service nor a fund to provide that right. In Mr. Gosnell’s case, he, and these state officials, used state funds to kill babies, deny them their true and proper rights, now are misusing the term ‘right’ to gain access to more funds to represent their shabby job performances. That’s shameful.

ted c on February 2, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Ignorance of the law is no excuse…except in Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C., and a few other places.

SKYFOX on February 2, 2011 at 11:22 AM

The state is paying to defend people from the state? How does that make sense.

Newsflash: There are people called “public defenders” – if you can prove you are indigent. Why would public employees have more right to this than every other citizen?

Same as the health care exemptions: The people whose job it is to make sure everyone is equal are always going to make themselves “more equal” than the rest of us.

logis on February 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Here in Wilmington, Delaware, Gosnell’s other business locale, our local rag The News-Journal in an editorial today called for the state to regulate abortion clinics so that we could ensure that our abortions here were … wait for it … “civilized.”

Cuz killing unborn babies in the womb is such a civilized thing to do, apparently.

DaydreamBeliever on February 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Actually, its appropriate that the taxpayers pick up the tab, isn’t it? This is, after all, the taxpayers’ system; their crazy law; their elected government. The failed bureaucrats work for them. In Philly, every other employed taxpayer works for government in some capacity. You get the government you deserve, usually.

james23 on February 2, 2011 at 11:30 AM

I would want some kind of oversight to make sure the taxpayers are paying for some slick lawyers making their fortunes on this case.

Cindy Munford on February 2, 2011 at 11:41 AM

I’m sorry, maybe I missed it…

… but what did the panel have to say about this case on “The View”?

Seven Percent Solution on February 2, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Not sure I understand this. Is the point here that state or city lawyers refused to reprsent these? Or that these bureaucrats were being sued privately or something because of their role in this and needed private representation? Wasn’t this their job? Why did they need lawyers in the first place? Is there some clause in their contracts which allows this much latitude and the municipality must pay?

jeanie on February 2, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Part of the problem with this is that many of the guys giving testimony — field inspectors, for instance — were probably not the guys setting policy. Loathsome though it may be, culpability needs to be fixed at precisely the right place, and not just sprayed about randomly because there is so much of it.

And that means that there could be 20 people giving testimony, while only one is legally guilty of something. Paying the legal fees of the other 19, though it makes for headlines, is scarcely cause for comment. And, since we don’t know which of the 20 is likely to be the one, the old “innocent until proven guilty” should apply.

Heinous though this may be, our sense of outrage shouldn’t lead to calls for personal ruination of everyone involved.

cthulhu on February 2, 2011 at 11:48 AM

I’m sorry, maybe I missed it…

… but what did the panel have to say about this case on “The View”?

Seven Percent Solution on February 2, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Whoopi said ‘well it’s not really murder murder.’

fossten on February 2, 2011 at 11:54 AM

And of course, expecting them to be FIRED is totally out of the question.

GarandFan on February 2, 2011 at 11:57 AM

I don’t mind taxes paying for their defense.

They should get fair trials then fair hangings.

Akzed on February 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM

I think that part of the problem was that the lawyers working for these agencies, who would usually represent the officials, were being questioned themselves. This disease was so widespread that they had to pull in outside legal help.

I am not really upset about the lawyer costs. Really, looking at the real crimes here, those costs pale in comparison.

And I think it was right, from a purely legal standpoint, for the state to make sure that the officials and lawyers involved had proper representation. After all, since they were acting as agents of the State, the State could be liable for their actions. I don’t think they should get away with this gross failure in their duties but I still believe that they have a right to representation and that it was the States duty to provide it.

OBQuiet on February 2, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Arent there plenty of ambulance chasing lawyers who work pro bono for the Nancy Grace circuit?

How is it a lawyer will do such legal work for free, while waiting for the monetary windfall and representing the lowest forms of scum; but not one liberal hack of a lawyer will step in to defend a man who practices what their very ethos preaches… “pro choice”

I imagine this is a “rubber hits the road” moment of realty – and that very choice those are pro on will be tarnished.

Odie1941 on February 2, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Part of the problem with this is that many of the guys giving testimony — field inspectors, for instance — were probably not the guys setting policy.
cthulhu on February 2, 2011 at 11:48 AM

That’s not part of the problem; it’s part of the solution. If they didn’t do anything wrong, then they have nothing to worry about, and no reason to plead the Fifth.

“Just following orders” is not a defense. If the drones want off, all they have to do is point their fingers up the chain. The only problem will be slowing them down enough for the transcribers to record everything.

But if everybody gets his own lawyer — and they’re all paid for by the people sitting on top of that pyramid — then this case stops dead in its tracks.

logis on February 2, 2011 at 1:23 PM

This situation was a slaughterhouse, not unlike Auschwitz. Hold the trials in Nuremburg, let the U.N. foot the bill.

Robert17 on February 2, 2011 at 1:33 PM

The media blackout on this is still outrageous.

Too bad they don’t have a law like Alaska’s where the official has to pay for his defense and then gets reimbursed later. If at all. That’s how they drove Palin from office if you recall. She couldn’t afford the legal bills.

Iblis on February 2, 2011 at 3:22 PM

Part of the problem with this is that many of the guys giving testimony — field inspectors, for instance — were probably not the guys setting policy. Loathsome though it may be, culpability needs to be fixed at precisely the right place, and not just sprayed about randomly because there is so much of it.

And that means that there could be 20 people giving testimony, while only one is legally guilty of something. Paying the legal fees of the other 19, though it makes for headlines, is scarcely cause for comment. And, since we don’t know which of the 20 is likely to be the one, the old “innocent until proven guilty” should apply.

Heinous though this may be, our sense of outrage shouldn’t lead to calls for personal ruination of everyone involved.

cthulhu on February 2, 2011 at 11:48 AM

I’m not slamming you or your logic here, please don’t misunderstand. What you say is reasonable and makes perfect sense.

What I’m slamming is that people would stay in jobs like that. If you (in the generic sense) saw something that was wrong (morally and/or legally) and did nothing, what type of person does that make you. Either these people should have been whistleblowers if the “higher ups” did nothing or should have removed themselves from the situation in order to keep their souls.

These people took a wage to participate in a cycle of killing people. Just simple money. They weren’t threatened with their lives or the lives of their families, like might have happened in Nazi Germany (as people are wont to compare). Just money. Money that could have been earned elsewhere.

So I have no sympathy for anyone that participated in this. They made a conscious decision.

Again, not a slam at what you are saying, cthulhu. Just a comment about the “people” involved and whether they really deserve any support.

kim roy on February 2, 2011 at 3:59 PM

What I’m slamming is that people would stay in jobs like that. If you (in the generic sense) saw something that was wrong (morally and/or legally) and did nothing, what type of person does that make you.
kim roy on February 2, 2011 at 3:59 PM

What makes you think these inspectors SAW anything? As I understand it, abortion “clinics” are less regulated than tatoo parlors.

Whatever they did (or were told not to do) is going to have a paper trail a mile long. The people at the very top wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to delete every possible reference. So they are doing whatever it takes to coerce their drones into shredding all the copies.

And “generously” offering to supply lawyers is a big part of that effort. Right now, all of those Philadelphia Mouthpieces are being paid to tell their clients’ employees to keep their mouths shut – and that any records that disagree with the official story are going to be used to crucify them.

“…So it’ll be better for your case if those records don’t exist.”

“You mean I should destroy them?”

“Hey, those are your words; not mine. I’m only here to tell you what is best for your interests.”

logis on February 2, 2011 at 4:44 PM