Judge to rule Friday on Quirk subpoena

WHEELING — Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson is expected to rule Friday on whether Monsignor Kevin Quirk will be required to testify as a material witness in a clergy sex abuse trial taking place in Philadelphia.

A law clerk in Wilson’s Hancock County office said the judge, who currently serves as chief of the 1st Judicial Circuit, held a hearing April 12 regarding the validity of the material witness petition issued by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office seeking Quirk to testify.

A secretary in Wilson’s office inadvertently informed The Intelligencer on Wednesday that the judge was not involved in the case.

The clerk, Heather Wood, said Wilson was assigned the case after Wheeling attorney William Kolibash, who is representing Quirk, indicated his client would contest the petition.

Quirk served as one of three canonical judge at a church trial of the Rev. James Brennan, who’s on trial in Philadelphia for an alleged 1996 child-sex assault. Brennan has denied those charges.

Bryan Minor, spokesman for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, referred all comment in the matter to the diocese’s legal counsel.

Kolibash said he and Quirk are “just waiting for the ruling” from Wilson.

“We’ve submitted everything to the court that Judge Wilson has requested,” Kolibash said. He would not elaborate further on why Quirk is contesting the material witness petition.

Court officials at the City-County Building in Wheeling said the law requires a local judge to be involved in a material witness petition issued from an outside jurisdiction. In this case, for example, the city of Philadelphia does not have the power to subpoena a witness from another state, so the petition goes to a local judge so that judge can issue the subpoena.

That also allows the witness being called to testify — in this case, Quirk — to contest the material witness petition before the local judge. Wilson could either rule that Quirk is a material witness and is required to honor the petition from Philadelphia, or he could rule to quash the subpoena.

The Philadephia District Attorney’s office issued a no comment on the matter, citing a judge’s gag order in the case.