031114 Oh Are Mezza Cappa

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<ul><li><p> COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF NORTHAMPTON COUNTYCOMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA</p><p>CIVIL DIVISION</p><p> BERNIE O'HARE : CV 2012-3442:</p><p>Plaintiff ::</p><p> vs. : :</p><p> TRICIA MEZZACAPPA : : </p><p>Defendant : </p><p> TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS</p><p>Heard by THE HONORABLE MICHAEL J. KOURY, JR., Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Third Judicial District, Easton, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.</p><p> A P P E A R A N C E S: </p><p> BY: RICHARD J. ORLOSKI, ESQ. -- on behalf of the Plaintiff</p><p>Proceedings stenographically recorded by Nicole Candelino, Official Court Reporter.</p></li><li><p> 2</p><p> 1 * * *</p><p> 2 THE COURT: Good morning. We are here in </p><p> 3 the matter of Bernie O'Hare versus Tricia </p><p> 4 Mezzacappa, docket 3442 of 2012. The case was </p><p> 5 listed for a non-jury trial regarding damages </p><p> 6 following default judgment. The case was scheduled </p><p> 7 for 9 a.m. The time is now 9:26 a.m. I've been </p><p> 8 informed that Ms. Mezzacappa did not appear at the </p><p> 9 call of the list, is that correct? </p><p>10 MR. ORLOSKI: That's correct, and she wasn't </p><p>11 at the call of the list last week either.</p><p>12 THE COURT: Okay, so you're ready to proceed </p><p>13 in her absence? </p><p>14 MR. ORLOSKI: Yes.</p><p>15 THE COURT: Call your first witness. You </p><p>16 can testify from the witness stand or the podium. </p><p>17 Raise your right hand and state your full </p><p>18 name, spelling your first and last name for the </p><p>19 court reporter.</p><p>20 MR. O'HARE: Bernard V. O'Hare, III.</p><p>21 BERNARD V. O'HARE, III, having been duly sworn </p><p>22 according to law, was examined and testified as </p><p>23 follows: </p><p>24 DIRECT EXAMINATION </p><p>25 BY MR. ORLOSKI: </p></li><li><p> 3</p><p> 1 THE COURT: You may be seated. Mr. Orloski, </p><p> 2 you can proceed with your examination.</p><p> 3 Can you just tell me briefly what's before </p><p> 4 me.</p><p> 5 MR. ORLOSKI: It's a hearing on damages for </p><p> 6 the defamation. We're going to be requesting an </p><p> 7 award for compensatory damages and for punitive </p><p> 8 damages.</p><p> 9 THE COURT: Okay.</p><p>10 MR. ORLOSKI: And we have, Your Honor, the </p><p>11 section from the standard civil practice, 1316, </p><p>12 which outlines the damages.</p><p>13 THE COURT: Okay. You, Mr. O'Hare, filed an </p><p>14 action for defamation against Ms. Mezzacappa, </p><p>15 correct? </p><p>16 MR. ORLOSKI: Yes.</p><p>17 THE COURT: And there was a default </p><p>18 judgment? </p><p>19 MR. ORLOSKI: Yeah, we have a complicated </p><p>20 history. We do have the docket which I will make </p><p>21 available to Your Honor. I have some notes on the </p><p>22 first page but this is page 3, starts with the </p><p>23 filing of the complaint. It's been a procedurally </p><p>24 complicated case.</p><p>25 THE COURT: Okay. Okay, you can proceed, </p></li><li><p> 4</p><p> 1 Mr. Orloski.</p><p> 2 BY MR. ORLOSKI: </p><p> 3 Q. Mr. O'Hare, state your full name for the </p><p> 4 record. </p><p> 5 A. My full name is Bernard Vincent O'Hare, III. </p><p> 6 Q. And, very briefly, at some point did you go </p><p> 7 to law school?</p><p> 8 A. I did.</p><p> 9 Q. Did you graduate?</p><p>10 A. I did.</p><p>11 Q. Were you admitted to the bar?</p><p>12 A. I was.</p><p>13 Q. And your father, what was your father's </p><p>14 name?</p><p>15 A. His name was Bernard Vincent O'Hare, Jr. </p><p>16 Q. And he was also a lawyer?</p><p>17 A. He was.</p><p>18 Q. At some point you had some difficulties with </p><p>19 the bar?</p><p>20 A. That's correct.</p><p>21 Q. And what happened to you?</p><p>22 A. My license to practice law was suspended for </p><p>23 two years, in early 1986, I believe, as result of </p><p>24 ethical misconduct that occurred as a result of my </p><p>25 drinking.</p></li><li><p> 5</p><p> 1 Q. And it was a suspension, not a disbarment?</p><p> 2 A. It was a suspension.</p><p> 3 Q. And you never applied to go back?</p><p> 4 A. I have not.</p><p> 5 Q. I gather this caused some anguish in the </p><p> 6 family?</p><p> 7 A. It did.</p><p> 8 Q. And what have you done to rebuild your life </p><p> 9 since then?</p><p>10 A. Well, the first thing I did was I stopped </p><p>11 drinking. That was the first thing that I did. It </p><p>12 was -- it was a very dark time in my life when I lost </p><p>13 my license to practice law and I was very -- I was </p><p>14 very disappointed that I disgraced myself, I </p><p>15 disgraced my family and I disgraced my profession </p><p>16 when my license to practice law was suspended, and </p><p>17 the way that I thought about rebuilding my life was, </p><p>18 first of all, I had to stop drinking. I stopped </p><p>19 drinking, went through rehab, I went to AA meetings </p><p>20 twice a day for a year straight and got myself on </p><p>21 track with sobriety, and then I went back and began </p><p>22 searching titles on a full-time basis at the </p><p>23 courthouse.</p><p>24 Q. Now were you making a living doing that?</p><p>25 A. I did.</p></li><li><p> 6</p><p> 1 Q. And at some point did you start a blog? </p><p> 2 A. I did.</p><p> 3 Q. And what was -- when did you start your </p><p> 4 blog?</p><p> 5 A. I started the blog in 19 -- excuse me, in </p><p> 6 2006. It's called Lehigh Valley Ramblings, and the </p><p> 7 purpose of the blog was to discuss political matters, </p><p> 8 local political matters and also to provide -- to </p><p> 9 compliment the -- the news media because the news </p><p>10 media these days are becoming -- there have been a </p><p>11 lot of layoffs at the newspapers and they don't seem </p><p>12 to get the stories out the way they used to when they </p><p>13 were sending squads of reporters every night to cover </p><p>14 local municipal meetings, so I thought I would be </p><p>15 doing a public service.</p><p>16 Q. Was the blog labor intensive?</p><p>17 A. It is.</p><p>18 Q. How many hours did you spend on the blog per </p><p>19 week?</p><p>20 A. It's a full-time job to be honest with you.</p><p>21 Q. But you enjoy doing that?</p><p>22 A. I do. It's a labor of love.</p><p>23 Q. And did you have a core of readers?</p><p>24 A. I do. I mean, it started off very low but </p><p>25 now it's up to about 5,000 readers on weekdays.</p></li><li><p> 7</p><p> 1 Q. And did you become somebody that reporters </p><p> 2 contacted regularly for information?</p><p> 3 A. That's correct.</p><p> 4 Q. And at some point did you become involved </p><p> 5 with Tricia Mezzacappa?</p><p> 6 A. Yes, she was one of my blog readers and she </p><p> 7 began attending counsel meetings that I was attending </p><p> 8 and told me that she was a walker and I went on some </p><p> 9 walks with her.</p><p>10 Q. Was she also involved in political </p><p>11 activities as a candidate?</p><p>12 A. Pardon me? </p><p>13 Q. Was she involved in political --</p><p>14 A. Yes, she was running for office. She was </p><p>15 running for West Easton Borough Counsel at the time </p><p>16 and was claiming there was all kinds of ethical </p><p>17 improprieties and corruption going on in West Easton </p><p>18 Borough.</p><p>19 Q. Do you remember when that happened, when you </p><p>20 started interacting with her?</p><p>21 A. It was in 2011.</p><p>22 Q. And did you write any articles about her as </p><p>23 a political candidate?</p><p>24 A. Yes, I did.</p><p>25 Q. Would you characterize them as positive or </p></li><li><p> 8</p><p> 1 negative?</p><p> 2 A. Very negative.</p><p> 3 Q. As a result of that did she start </p><p> 4 communicating about you?</p><p> 5 A. That's correct.</p><p> 6 Q. What types of things was she saying about </p><p> 7 you?</p><p> 8 A. Well, she called me a rapist, claimed that I </p><p> 9 had sexually assaulted her, claimed that I had </p><p>10 attempted to poison her pet pig, claimed that I had </p><p>11 burglarized her home on numerous occasions, claimed </p><p>12 that I stalked her on a regular basis and also </p><p>13 claimed that I was a pedophile.</p><p>14 Q. Okay, now let's back up. Have you ever been </p><p>15 married?</p><p>16 A. Yes.</p><p>17 Q. And do you have any children?</p><p>18 A. I do.</p><p>19 Q. Do your children have any children?</p><p>20 A. They do not.</p><p>21 Q. Do you have a relationship with somebody who </p><p>22 does have grandchildren?</p><p>23 A. That's correct. After I separated from my </p><p>24 wife I developed a relationship with a another woman </p><p>25 and she has a grandson who was born very ill and he </p></li><li><p> 9</p><p> 1 spent the first six months of his life in the </p><p> 2 hospital, and I became very close to him as a result.</p><p> 3 Q. How old is that young man now?</p><p> 4 A. He's now 14.</p><p> 5 Q. And did you become actively involved in his </p><p> 6 life?</p><p> 7 A. Very actively involved.</p><p> 8 Q. In what capacity? </p><p> 9 A. Basically since he had no real father I was </p><p>10 basically the -- the male figure in his life for many </p><p>11 years.</p><p>12 Q. And did you start -- he was active in </p><p>13 sports?</p><p>14 A. Very active. Much more so than I ever was.</p><p>15 Q. And did you start going to sporting events </p><p>16 with him?</p><p>17 A. Yes.</p><p>18 Q. And, as a result of calling you a pedophile, </p><p>19 what happened?</p><p>20 A. Well, I can tell you that she -- she made </p><p>21 these allegations on -- on the Internet. They've </p><p>22 existed for several years and people, when I would go </p><p>23 to a game, I notice people would stop talking. I had </p><p>24 to explain myself to a couple of my grandson's </p><p>25 basketball coaches. </p></li><li><p>10</p><p> 1 I also noticed that before this happened, </p><p> 2 often times I would be asked to take some of my </p><p> 3 grandson's friends to different events, to practices, </p><p> 4 to baseball practice, basketball practice, football </p><p> 5 practice. That stopped. People would not ask me any </p><p> 6 more to take -- to pick up their son or, you know, to </p><p> 7 bring their son or even to take them to the movies. </p><p> 8 Sometimes I would do that or take them to a batting </p><p> 9 cage.</p><p>10 THE COURT: I've seen this young man play, </p><p>11 by the way. He's an excellent basketball player.</p><p>12 Q. How did it make you feel that you were being </p><p>13 shunned because of the allegations of being a </p><p>14 pedophile?</p><p>15 A. Pardon me? </p><p>16 Q. How did you feel?</p><p>17 A. Well, it made me feel terrible, made me feel </p><p>18 humiliated. </p><p>19 Q. And what does that mean, you were </p><p>20 humiliated?</p><p>21 A. Made me feel sick to my stomach.</p><p>22 Q. Now, in addition to that, she accused you of </p><p>23 being a rapist and a burglar, correct?</p><p>24 A. That's correct.</p><p>25 Q. How did that impact on your social life?</p></li><li><p>11</p><p> 1 A. Well, for one thing, it makes -- I'm very </p><p> 2 uncomfortable when I have a conversation with a </p><p> 3 woman. You know, I -- I'm very careful if I have to </p><p> 4 meet somebody to make sure I meet them in a setting </p><p> 5 where there's other people around so people can't -- </p><p> 6 so that nobody can say anything. It's just -- it's </p><p> 7 just -- it's disturbed me in that way. So it's </p><p> 8 affected me in that way with respect to my </p><p> 9 interactions with females. </p><p>10 As far as how it's affected me at the </p><p>11 courthouse, I can tell you that after this first </p><p>12 happened I would walk into the Recorder of Deeds </p><p>13 office where I search titles, and they're largely </p><p>14 women, the other title searchers are largely women, </p><p>15 and they like to talk to each other and usually when </p><p>16 you come in they're carrying on conversations but </p><p>17 when I would come in I would notice they would stop. </p><p>18 They would stop talking. And after this happened I </p><p>19 was called in to the Recorder of Deeds office.</p><p>20 Q. Who called you in?</p><p>21 A. Ann Achatz. She was, at that time, the </p><p>22 Recorder of Deeds.</p><p>23 Q. And why did she call you in?</p><p>24 A. She called me in because of concerns that </p><p>25 had been raised by members of her own staff about </p></li><li><p>12</p><p> 1 whether they had anything to worry about.</p><p> 2 Q. About you being a rapist?</p><p> 3 A. Yes.</p><p> 4 Q. And how did that make you feel?</p><p> 5 A. Terrible, terrible.</p><p> 6 Q. And now in addition can you tell us how it </p><p> 7 impacted on your -- your activities as a writer.</p><p> 8 THE COURT: Just before we go onto that, did </p><p> 9 you say burglar as well, she accused him of being a </p><p>10 burglar? </p><p>11 MR. O'HARE: Yes, Your Honor. She accused </p><p>12 me several times of breaking into her house and </p><p>13 stealing things from her.</p><p>14 THE COURT: This is also on her blog? </p><p>15 MR. O'HARE: Yes, stealing important </p><p>16 documents from her, and it's in the complaint.</p><p>17 MR. ORLOSKI: We have in the complaint, we </p><p>18 have extensive statements by her, what she was </p><p>19 writing. Judge -- was it Judge --</p><p>20 MR. O'HARE: Smith.</p><p>21 MR. ORLOSKI: Smith said it was defamatory </p><p>22 per se.</p><p>23 BY MR. ORLOSKI: </p><p>24 Q. What about your writing career?</p><p>25 A. Well --</p></li><li><p>13</p><p> 1 Q. Were you getting paid ever as a blogger?</p><p> 2 A. I did get paid as a blogger. I had </p><p> 3 advertisements on Google and I was getting paid a </p><p> 4 certain amount of money every month through Google, </p><p> 5 through Google Ads. That stopped. The -- but that </p><p> 6 had nothing to do with the defamation. I have to be </p><p> 7 honest with you, just tell you that that stopped.</p><p> 8 Q. What about Patch, tell us what Patch is in </p><p> 9 case the judge --</p><p>10 A. Patch is an AOL product. It is a hyperlocal </p><p>11 news site, which they have one in Easton, they have </p><p>12 one in Palmer, they have one in Nazareth, they're </p><p>13 throughout the area, that basically correspond with </p><p>14 the school districts, and I was asked to write </p><p>15 articles for Patch as a columnist on a weekly basis </p><p>16 and was getting paid $60 a week for basically one </p><p>17 column, which was easy money. That started in 2011. </p><p>18 And I was writing for them and what happened </p><p>19 was after this -- after these allegations started to </p><p>20 surface Ms. Mezzacappa began posting those comments </p><p>21 on Patch where I have no control over the comments, </p><p>22 and I threatened her with libel at the time and the </p><p>23 matter went into the legal department at Patch, it </p><p>24 went into -- it basically caused all kinds of </p><p>25 problems with me at Patch and I became so disgusted </p></li><li><p>14</p><p> 1 at having to deal with these allegations all the time </p><p> 2 in a forum where I have no control over what is being </p><p> 3 said, unlike my blog where I do have control, that I </p><p> 4 just couldn't write for them anymore. I just </p><p> 5 couldn't write.</p><p> 6 Q. And how much -- how much income was that, </p><p> 7 $60 a week? </p><p> 8 A. Yes, so that would be 30 -- roughly $3,200 </p><p> 9 in 2012 and 2013, another $3,200, and though Patch </p><p>10 has seized operations of many of its local outfits I </p><p>11 was a columnist which means that my relationship with </p><p>12 them would have continued.</p><p>13 Q. What about the Bethlehem Press, did you -- </p><p>14 A. Yes, I write for the Bethlehem Press. In </p><p>15 addition to writing for Patch I write for the </p><p>16 Bethlehem Press. That's a weekly newspaper and </p><p>17 it's in Bethlehem. I go to local meetings at their </p><p>18 behest and cover what is going on and write up </p><p>19 stories about what occurs there, and she began </p><p>20 contacting the newspaper and basically repeating the </p><p>21 defamation that is the subject of the complaint and </p><p>22 on several occasions, three occasions that I can </p><p>23 think of, I had to explain -- we had to go through </p><p>24 major explanations, myself and my editor, to the </p><p>25 publisher as to why he was still using me.</p></li><li><p>15</p><p> 1 Q. Now all of her allegations, by the way, </p><p> 2 about criminal behavior she reported to the Easton </p><p> 3 Police, correct?</p><p> 4 A. Pardon me? </p><p> 5 Q. She reported to the Easton -- West Easton </p><p> 6 Police Department?</p><p> 7 A. She reported some of the supposed burglaries </p><p> 8 to the Easton Police. She never reported a rape to </p><p> 9 the Easton Police. She reported the pig poisoning to </p><p>10 the Easton Police.</p><p>11 Q. The police never filed any charges against </p><p>12 you?</p><p>13 A. No.</p><p>14 Q. Now at some point you learned she had -- she </p><p>15 had the right to carry a gun, correct?</p><p>16 A. Yes, sir, yes.</p><p>17 Q. And she was accusing you of various crimes?</p><p>18 A. That's correct.</p><p>19 Q. Did that cause you any concern?</p><p>20 A. The fact that she was armed, the fact that I </p><p>21 felt that she was mentally unstable, the fact that </p><p>22 she was posting Internet comments on the Express </p><p>23 Times website three times stating that if somebody...</p></li></ul>