Parren J Mitchell vs. The Sun, et. al.
Former Congressman says his privacy
By D. Morton Glover
This Wednesday marks the
beginning of a classic 'David vs. Goliath' court battle where
former Congressman and recipient of the Purple Heart Parren J.
Mitchell is suing The Baltimore Sun Newspapers, and
Sun reporters, Walter
F.Roche and Ivan Penn.
This comes as a result of an incident where the two
reporters allegedly trespassed the Keswick Nursing Home room of
the former 7th Congressional district Congressman on
the evening of May 29, 2002.
Wednesday's hearing on a Motion for Summary Judgment, scheduled
for Room 436 of the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse at 2:00
p.m., will go before the Honorable Stuart R. Berger, Judge.
This is the first stage in the Court proceedings to
determine whether or not the case will move forward on June 15,
2004 for a jury trial.
counsel for The Sun is expected to file a motion
to dismiss, and counsel for Mitchell is then expected to file in
In the final analysis, Wednesday's hearing
will determine if there is sufficient basis for the case to go
the Mitchell Courthouse is named after Congressman Mitchell's
late older brother, the heralded chief lobbyist for
the NAACP and dubbed the 101st Senator.
He authored most every major piece of Civil Rights
Legislation from 1950 to 1984.
statement released by Mitchell's legal counsel today, it was
reported: "Congressman Parren Mitchell filed this law suit
so that it will be made clear in the future that the privacy
rights of all senior citizens all across our country need to be
better protected and respected by all, including the prying and
invasive members of the media. This case was brought by
Congressman Mitchell to stand-up for those that cannot speak for
themselves, and, for the citizens of a jury to declare that this
kind of illegal trespass, intentional infliction of emotional
distress and invasion of privacy will not be tolerated in our
to Arthur M. Frank, legal counsel for the national political
icon, "Health permitting, Congressman Mitchell will be in
attendance at this Hearing."
April 22, 1922, Congressman Mitchell, a member of the famous
Mitchell family, will turn 82-years old next month.
Attorney Frank told BMORENEWS.com that he is
arguing that this is a clear-cut case of trespassing by the two Sun
reporters at Mitchell's Keswick Nursing Home room on the evening
Congressman Mitchell has since been relocated
to Manor Care in Ruxton, MD.
The issue of Congressman Mitchell's finances
was well-reported on during the spring and fall of 2002, the
same time that former Maryland State Senator Clarence M.
Mitchell, Jr. was campaigning for what would turn-out to be an
unsuccessful bid for re-election. Sen. Mitchell, a life-long Democrat, would ultimately turn
his back on Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend's bid for
Governor and instead embraced and endorsed now-Governor,
then-Candidate for Governor, Robert Ehrlich, and his running
mate, Michael S. Steele. Gov. Ehrlich, a Republican, represents the first Republican
in Maryland's State House in approximately 36 years. Lt. Gov. Steele would become the first African American
statewide elected official in the history of the State of
Frank, in an interview with BMORENEWS.com, said that he believes
the two reporters did not announce themselves properly to the
staff at Keswick, a facility that has hosted other dignitaries,
including former judge and Baltimore City Mayor, Joseph Harold
Nursing Home has adopted a well-established policy where media
acknowledges themselves and are to be accompanied by a member of
the Keswick staff [in order to see residents].
Frank insists the recovering Congressman's privacy was violated.
"The Sun did not care," said
He said that they "purposefully
violated" the rules and that the critical issue here is
"trespassing - not what they wrote, but how they got what
"If they can do this to a former
Congressman, how many others can be violated [without an
opportunity for reprisal]?" he posed.
"The hearing on Wednesday is the first
stage in court to determine where or not the privacy rights of
all senior citizens across America need to be respected by all,
including the prying members of the media.
It was also determine whether or not illegal trespass
into one's home will be tolerated in our civilized
society," Attorney Frank said.
He added that Congressman Mitchell's main
purpose in pursuing this case is to once again stand up for the
rights of those that cannot speak for themselves.
In a series of articles during the spring and
summer of 2002, Congressman Mitchell's nephew, Michael, was
targeted by the Baltimore daily regarding his handling of his
uncle's financial affairs.
When asked about this, Attorney Frank said,
"Michael Mitchell, in particular, has done nothing but
preserved Parren's life in his latter years, diligently taking
care of him. Furthermore,
no reasonable person would remotely think that the invasion of
privacy and trespassing by the two reporters was done in any way
to help Congressman Mitchell.
The only accomplishment of their story was an attempt to
embarrass and humiliate an icon of our society and one of the
greatest treasures of Maryland."
He continued, "If they truly thought the
Congressman needed help, then trespassing [in his room],
attempting to interview him, and publishing an embarrassing and
humiliating story about a person convalescing from two strokes
and who has survived a coma was no way to help that person.
Their only goals were to make headlines and hurt
Remember, for Congressman Mitchell's whole time in Congress,
The Sunpapers was never favorable and always opposed him.
It would be incredible to think that they are trying to
help him now."
In his deposition given on November 14, 2003,
Congressman Mitchell stated that his relationship with The
Baltimore Sun has been historically "very
Congressman Mitchell said, "The Sun
disagreed with my political philosophy."
He also said, "[There was] constant
criticism of me by The Sunpapers," something that
"didn't change through my tenure in Congress.
They talked about how I opposed the President, the Viet
Nam War, and various public policies.
In general, I think I was regarded as too liberal...They
opposed me and they made it clear I was not their favorite
they did not come out and oppose me, they ignored me, or played
me down when there was direct opposition."
22 March 2004
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