Rabbi Avi Weiss plans to appeal the dismissal of his slander case against the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, Cardinal Jozef Glemp.
The dismissal, handed down March 19 by U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson Jr., was based on a technicality rather than the substance of the claim against Glemp. The judge ruled, after a one-day hearing, that the subpoena was improperly served to the Catholic primate.
Weiss’ attorney, Harvard University Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, has vowed not only to appeal the decision but to again serve Glemp with a subpoena if the cardinal visits the United States without apologizing for what he said about Weiss in a 1989 sermon.
In that homily, Glemp charged that the Bronx rabbi had tried to kill the nuns at the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz, when he and six followers demonstrated there in July 1989.
Dershowitz said that next time, he would have Glemp served “more aggressively.”
“Because we had respect for his position and we didn’t shove it (the subpoena) under his arm like a common thief, there was improper service,” said Dershowitz. “Next time we’re going to shove it under his arm or any other part of his anatomy.”
Weiss himself could not be reached for comment. And Glemp’s legal representatives in the case, attorneys from the Washington-based firm Williams and Connolly, had no comment on the decision.
A slander suit brought by Weiss against Glemp in Poland in November 1989 was dismissed and on appeal, that dismissal was affirmed.
‘AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF BIAS’
In an affidavit for the American trial, Dershowitz included details of a meeting he held with judges in the Polish city of Czestochowa about the lawsuit there. In that meeting, he said, the Polish judges indicated they were under enormous pressure to dismiss the case.
The affidavit’s account of the conversation conflicts with what Dershowitz said about the same meeting in his autobiographical book “Chutzpah.”
In his ruling, the U.S. federal court judge called the discrepancies in Dershowitz’s accounts “troubling, to say the least.”
Dershowitz has filed a motion to have that part of the decision withdrawn and will seek to have the judge disciplined.
“He took a cheap shot at me. The affidavit is completely accurate, but a book is edited, and he never asked about it during the hearing,” Dershowitz said. “He went off after me, and he’s just not going to get away with it.”
Dershowitz also charged there was “an incredible amount of bias displayed during the hearing.”
The judge “basically believed everybody who testified for Glemp and disbelieved everyone who testified for Avi,” he charged.
In his decision, Judge Patterson said that “Cardinal Glemp is now an extremely important and powerful figure in Poland, that anti-Semitism exists in Poland and that it might well be difficult for an American rabbi to initiate civil proceedings against Cardinal Glemp in that country.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.