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THE TEXAS POST-GAME REPORT: Scientology, Monique Rathbun, and Judge Dib Waldrip

We said Judge Dib Waldrip was Ricky Gervais with Colonel Sanders' facial hair. Did we nail it or what? [Source]

We said Judge Dib Waldrip was Ricky Gervais with Colonel Sanders’ facial hair. Did we nail it or what? [Source]

After two days of live-blogging here in New Braunfels, Texas, we left the Comal County courthouse yesterday afternoon with more questions than answers in the harassment lawsuit brought by Monique Rathbun against the Church of Scientology. But after our last entry in yesterday’s report, we learned some additional details about where things stand as Judge Dib Waldrip considers a couple of motions filed by both sides.

To review, on Thursday opening statements and testimony were presented in a hearing to determine if a temporary restraining order that prevents Scientology from continuing to surveil Monique Rathbun would be converted into a temporary injunction, lasting the life of the lawsuit. That matter was not finished at the end of the day.

Yesterday morning, the court then considered the church’s motion to disqualify Monique Rathbun’s attorneys because they had filed a sworn statement by her husband, Mark “Marty” Rathbun. The church claimed that Marty’s affidavit was both false and revealed confidential information, which Judge Dib Waldrip pointed out seemed to be a logical impossibility.

In the afternoon, the parties argued over jurisdictional matters — Scientology leader David Miscavige had filed a “special appearance,” arguing that he should be let out of the lawsuit, while Monique’s team is trying to depose him.

At the end of the afternoon, little seemed to have been resolved. But we have more information about that now.


Based on what Judge Waldrip said in court yesterday, we think it’s likely that he’ll rule on the disqualify motion as early as Monday. And we’re pretty confident that he’ll deny the motion and not disqualify Ray Jeffrey, Marc Wiegand, and Elliott Cappuccio, Monique’s attorneys. We’re basing that not only on the tough job Church of Scientology International attorney George Spencer seemed to have convincing Waldrip during his argument yesterday, but also because of something Waldrip said at the end of the afternoon’s session.

It’s complex, but Waldrip asked Spencer if a particular aspect to a ruling against the church’s motion would be likely to be brought up on appeal. Spencer seemed a bit caught by surprise, but indicated that yes, that would be the situation. The judge said he was asking, because if Spencer’s answer was yes, it would mean more work for Waldrip over the weekend, and he’d rather play football with his boys. That statement was met with laughs, but the message was clear: Waldrip was indicating that he is going to reject the church’s motion, and he needed to know if he had to do the extra work to make his decision less likely to be overturned on appeal.

As for the temporary injunction hearing, it still has some ways to go, and will involve testimony from several more witnesses. But until it can be completed, Judge Waldrip assured both sides that the temporary restraining order remains in place, which means that David Miscavige and Scientology will continue to be under court order to leave Monique Rathbun alone.

Before the temporary injunction can be resolved, however, Waldrip will first rule on the issue of the “special appearances” — the jurisdictional question — brought up by David Miscavige and the Religious Technology Center, who both want out of the lawsuit (RTC is nominally Scientology’s controlling entity).

Monique’s team argued that it was entitled to depose David Miscavige. But Miscavige’s local attorney, Lamont Jefferson, argued that Miscavige shouldn’t even be in the lawsuit. While he decides on that jurisdictional issue, Judge Waldrip asked both sides to confer and come up with an intermediate discovery plan. We’re told that the two sides rapidly did come to an agreement on that. The Church of Scientology International (CSI) and RTC will respond to requests for documents from Monique, and will both produce corporate representatives for depositions in Texas. The two defendants who are local residents, Monty Drake (a Dallas private investigator) and Steven Gregory Sloat (a former deputy U.S. marshal) will also submit to depositions.

The hearing on jurisdictional issues, which could clear the way for Miscavige to be deposed, will be continued on Friday, October 18. Presumably, when that issue is decided, then the temporary injunction hearing can continue.


LeahBFGLeah Remini is Dancing With Marc Headley!

No doubt you saw photos yesterday of Leah Remini arriving at rehearsal for Dancing With The Stars while carrying a copy of Marc Headley’s thrilling 2009 book, Blown For Good. We reviewed Headley’s book when it came out, and one of our favorite parts of it was learning that Marc had been used as a guinea pig in 1990 when actor Tom Cruise needed to learn how to audit at Scientology’s secretive International Base in California. Headley’s book has many other great details about what life was like for “Sea Org” workers at the base, and how difficult it was to escape and then start a new life with his wife, Claire.

And now Leah Remini was spotted carrying a copy in the one place where she must have known she’d be photographed. Subtle!

We called Headley to see what he thought about Leah’s very public endorsement.

“It’s great that she’s reading it,” he told us. “But to show it like that is really cool. I hope it has information that is enlightening to her.”

He told us that he’s sent copies to many people who he thought could use some enlightening. Oh, like who?

“I gave a copy to Jenna Elfman in 2010. I personally handed it to her. But I don’t think she’s going to be bringing it to Dancing With The Stars,” he quipped.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 14, 2013 at 07:00

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