Claiming 'Conspiracy,' CBS lawyers Want Ex-Anchor Trial Delayed

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Former KYW Anchor Alycia Lane has been trying to take her old station and its owner CBS to court for 8 years. 

Just when it appeared that a date had been set, CBS has stepped in with conspiracy claims. 

Lane's negligence lawsuit against CBS for failing to stop former coanchor Larry Mendte from hacking her email and feeding salacious details and photos to gossip columnists was set for trial in October. 

But now, CBS lawyers have asked the state Supreme Court to put Lane's trial on hold and investigate "unusual and suspicious circumstances" in the Philadelphia court.

CBS lawyer John M. Elliott filed the emergency motion, contending the trial's transfer from Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein to Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson on May 13 was "under a shroud of secrecy" and "by as-yet unknown forces operating within the First Judicial District."

Philly. com writes that challenging the integrity of a sitting judge or judges is unusual and drew an equally unusual response from Bernstein.

"Any implication impugning the integrity of judicial assignments in the First Judicial District is grossly misplaced," Bernstein wrote in a six-page opinion filed with the Supreme Court.

"There is nothing mysterious, suspect, questionable or even unusual in this procedure," he added.

Since 2013, Bernstein has overseen pretrial issues in the Lane lawsuit as what the Philadelphia court system calls a "team leader." But when it became apparent that scheduling problems and pending motions would push the trial past October, Bernstein said he transferred it to one of his "team members" - four trial judges he works with.

The reason? Bernstein is retiring in October after 29 years on the bench.

Bernstein wrote that the court has operated this way since 1991, a process that reduced a 27,000-case backlog and six-year delay to trial to a system in which 95 percent of civil cases are resolved within two years.

Elliott could not be reached for comment about Bernstein's opinion.