In the hearing, the prosecution would call Dr. John Wolf, who was prescribing the antidepressants I currently was taking. John was a neurologist who, along with two other people, had formed a group called Alethea: The Center on Death and Dying, which was committed to helping people through a normal grieving process. I had joined the group and attended training sessions. In fact, Bob died the weekend before the last session. If I had not known and understood some things about the natural process of grief, I never could have survived Bob’s death.
Six or eight months after Bob died, I went to see John, complaining of debilitating fatigue. He diagnosed it as something he called “endogenous” depression, meaning it was indwelling, not situational, and prescribed antidepressants. I had been taking the antidepressants daily for about two years when the matter of a hearing came up. When I called John and asked him if he would testify in the hearing, he said yes and added that it would give him an “in” with the prosecutor’s office, which he wanted.
So the prosecutor’s went to the judge and asked for a hearing; the judge ordered the hearing and also ordered that it be sealed—none of the lawyers or witnesses could talk about it publicly.
I was at the office when I got a call from Willie asking if I could come in after work. He also casually asked if I’d seen the day’s newspaper. No, I hadn’t. When I got to the prosecutor’s office, I was ushered into Peter Andreoli’s office, where John and Willie waited with the newspaper. It carried an article that there was a hearing into the status of one of the witnesses whose testimony supported the felony charges against Sheeran. There were only three felony witnesses, so that narrowed it down.
The Syracuse Newspapers had taken to calling me the “star witness.” John stated that his office did not consider any witness more of a star than any other, that his office had never called me a star, and that the designation came from the newspapers; the newspapers had decided I was the star witness and frequently referred to me that way. In John’s opinion, they did it to put pressure on me. It was working. I wasn’t just one of fifty people who Sheeran asked to buy tickets; I was the one. I wasn’t part of a group; I was all alone out there.
Now, in the newspaper story, they were saying that a star witness was the subject of this hearing. The story went on to say that there were only a few reasons why there might be this kind of hearing into whether a witness who testified before a grand jury would testify before a trial jury. One of the reasons why a witness would not be called at trial would be if the witness died. Also, the witness might not be called if there was a psychiatric issue.
The judge had ordered a sealed hearing into my psychiatric status and I—and tens of thousands of other people—had just read about it on the front page of the newspaper. How could that happen? Mr. Andreoli explained that the seal does not apply to a lawyer talking to his partners. Sheeran’s primary attorney, Ed Gerber, or one of the co-counsels, could go back to the office and talk to other lawyers in the firm under the guise of a legal conference. The other lawyers in the firm were not under seal and therefore one of them could have picked up the phone and called a reporter. And now my psychiatric history was public.
Mr. Andreoli went on to say that he had called Stephen Rogers, publisher of The Syracuse Newspapers, and made it exceptionally clear to him that this was not acceptable, and that as a private citizen, I might sue the newspapers for violation of my right to privacy. Mr. Andreoli added, to me, that it was unlikely such a case would hold up in court, but I had no doubt that Andreoli had pushed back—hard—against Stephen Rogers and the excesses of The Syracuse Newspapers.
The Syracuse Newspapers were in attack mode against the Special Prosecutor’s Office. They defended and protected the county government officials who were being arrested and tried for corrupt practices and they attacked the prosecutor—and Peter Andreoli took all the heat. His explicit instructions, which could not be compromised, were that none of his attorneys, investigators or office staff members ever was to make any comment to any reporter at any time about any thing. It was his job to take the heat. Politically and publically, Peter Andreoli would be the face of the investigation so that his staff could get the job done of investigating and prosecuting. He would protect his people and take all the crap alone on his broad shoulders.
The next time I was called into the prosecutor’s office, John carefully (John did everything carefully) asked me if I knew someone named Sidney Orgel. Ah, yes, that son of a bitch.
Somewhere along the line I had decided I wanted to get a pilot’s license. Flying lessons are horrendously expensive so I had a lesson whenever I could afford one, which was not often. A person does not need a license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly dual with an instructor, however the day would come when I would need a license—and the FAA wasn’t likely to give it to me. They object to nut-jobs flying around over populated areas and, by virtue of my psychiatric history, I was a nut-job, so I planned to proactively have psychological testing that would establish my emotional integrity.
All people share the right and the responsibility to make the decisions that affect their lives together.