We wanted to follow up yesterday’s blockbuster news with some important details. Namely, where Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit against the Church of Scientology is today, and what immediate deadlines it faces.
On Friday, Monique’s attorneys filed a document with the Texas Supreme Court which revealed that they had been fired “without cause.” In the filing there was no notice of new counsel representing Monique. There was no request for a stay of proceedings so that new attorneys could be brought on and learn the case. Assuming the court accepts the withdrawal of her attorneys, Monique is currently without counsel of any kind. One of the consequences of this is that the home address of the Rathbuns was included in the document — if Monique still had representation, we might not even know that the Rathbuns had returned to Ingleside, near Corpus Christi.
In our comments, we saw numerous people suggesting that Monique might simply be switching attorneys. While that’s possible, our experts tell us it’s not likely. Ray Jeffrey and the others, Marc Wiegand, Elliott Cappuccio, and Leslie Hyman, were working on a contingency basis, and had racked up a huge amount of work in the time since the lawsuit was first filed in August 2013. Because they were fired “without cause,” they would still be entitled to their percentage of any future settlement in the case, which we believe would be around 40 to 45 percent.
It makes no sense to fire attorneys on a contingency basis to bring one on who is going to charge by the hour, so that’s probably not going to happen. Is there another attorney who is going to come in and work on a contingency basis? That’s possible, but the enormity of the case would mean that it would take weeks for a new attorney to get up to speed. And Monique doesn’t really have that much time.
On February 19, the defendants in the lawsuit face a deadline of turning in their petition to the Texas Supreme Court. They have already received two extensions, and this last time, they were told that an additional extension would be “disfavored.” It’s very hard to see David Miscavige instructing his attorneys to miss that deadline and a chance to petition the Texas Supreme Court without a settlement worked out. That leaves very little time for a settlement to happen, and our best information tells us that those talks have not even begun.
Speaking of the petition, we’ll remind readers where this lawsuit is currently. Scientology is asking the Texas Supreme Court to review a devastating decision by the Texas Third Court of Appeals which shot down Scientology’s argument that its harassment of the Rathbuns was a form of free speech. Our legal observers tell us there was a good chance that this decision would have been upheld by the state supreme court, and that Scientology had every intention of then taking it to the US Supreme Court — and a loss there would have been huge for anyone who wanted to sue Scientology in the United States for harassment. That won’t happen now.
We will be watching the docket closely to see if a new attorney does make an appearance for Monique, or to see if the case is ended, which would suggest a settlement is reached.
Bonus photos from our tipsters
On a lighter note, there was a disco party at the Fort Harrison Hotel Saturday night.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield