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We talk to Ray Jeffrey about today’s brutally long day in a Texas court battling Scientology

Scientology attorneys watch other Scientology attorneys in the courtroom

Scientology attorneys watch other Scientology attorneys in the courtroom

As we reported earlier today, local journalist Nick Rogers and photographer Mike Bennitt were in the Comal County courthouse in New Braunfels, Texas today to help us cover the latest hearing in Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.

Today, Scientology’s attorneys presented their argument supporting an anti-SLAPP motion, which they hoped would convince Judge Dib Waldrip to throw the case out of court. That didn’t happen. Instead, Waldrip has asked Monique’s attorneys to submit a detailed request for evidence tomorrow, giving Scientology until noon Friday to respond to it. That afternoon, he will decide whether to dismiss the case or grant Monique more time to gather the evidence she’s requesting.

We’ve now talked with Monique’s attorney, Ray Jeffrey, and he’s provided us more detail about today’s brutally long day of argument and testimony in court.

“This time there were maybe 20 lawyers for Scientology’s side, and five or six of them argued,” he told us. “By the end, it became pretty clear to the judge the predicament we’re in. That anything that seems to be a resolution, there’s yet another lawyer to derail that.”

In their anti-SLAPP motion, Scientology is arguing that the years of surveillance of the Rathbuns by Scientology were part of a purely religious dispute, and Monique’s lawsuit is a harassing action that should be dismissed. Meanwhile, David Miscavige’s attorney, Lamont Jefferson, has been arguing for weeks that the court has no jurisdiction over the religious leader and he should be let out of the suit. In both of those issues, Jeffrey points out, Scientology has resisted turning over any documents about the operation to spy on the Rathbuns. The church’s attorneys want Miscavige released and the case thrown out purely by the force of their arguments, and without turning over a shred of evidence, Ray says.

But despite a full day of arguing by skillful, high-priced attorneys, Scientology repeatedly found itself being tripped up by Jeffrey’s objections and Waldrip’s observations from the bench.

Jeffrey confirmed for us, for example, that he had asked for Scientology to turn over photographs that had been taken secretly of the Rathbuns during the surveillance operations, especially those that might have been taken showing the Rathbuns in their home.

Church of Scientology International (CSI) attorney Ricardo Cedillo objected, saying that no such photos existed.

But Jeffrey says he’s very doubtful that Cedillo has personally seen any photographs at all.

It was at that point that Lamont Jefferson, Miscavige’s attorney, also stood to object about the photographs, which prompted Waldrip to raise his own objection — why was the attorney for Miscavige, who says the court has no jurisdiction over him, objecting to Cedillo’s client, CSI, talking about the existence of photographs?

Once again, Scientology’s alphabet soup structure seemed to be working against it in the court.

Waldrip expressed some frustration, saying that if the jurisdictional and First Amendment issue were going to overlap like this, David Miscavige might have to be prepared to be deposed in the next week. (And we figure that must have sent some chills down Scientology attorney spines. It’s pretty obvious that keeping Miscavige out of a deposition is their biggest task.)

Jeffrey said Lamont Jefferson later had another uncomfortable moment. At the end of the session, as the judge was trying to work out how to schedule things, Jefferson brought up that he had recently filed a motion to reconsider Waldrip’s decision that Miscavige could be deposed.

“The judge then threw up his hands and said, ‘I’m not going to revisit this unless you have something new.’ Lamont said, well, we want you to hear this — in other words, they don’t have anything new,” Ray says.

But overall, Jeffrey says Scientology’s attorneys did a skillful job presenting their case for the anti-SLAPP motion.

“Ricardo Cedillo did a great job. He had a very good Powerpoint presentation. He had to show that this was a religious dispute. He showed some film clips of Marty [Rathbun] and things from Marty’s blog,” Jeffrey says.

But other parts seemed completely out of place. A set of images, for example, of David Miscavige opening churches in Oslo, Johannesburg, Dallas. It felt forced and didn’t really advance the case.

“Ricardo is a very good lawyer. I don’t think that he ever would have put any of that stuff in there. He’s being told to do that,” he says.

At one point in the morning, when Cedillo was arguing that Marty Rathbun is trying to destroy the Church of Scientology with his blog and his other efforts, Ray pointed out that the lawsuit was filed by Monique Rathbun, who had never been a member of the church. Cedillo promised that he’d be addressing her role in the afternoon.

In the afternoon session, as Cedillo presented his case about Monique, trying to portray her as a public person who was part of Marty’s plot to harm the church, he began to put on a slick documentary — a film made all about Monique that even came with narration.

“Ricardo claimed he had made that film for the hearing. But it didn’t sound like Ricardo’s voice. So I asked the judge, did they get to make documentary films? He said he didn’t want to see it,” Jeffrey says.

If Cedillo was often very effective, one thing he repeated several times was “It doesn’t matter if my client has a black heart, what matters is that it’s a case of religion.”

“I thought it was a poor way of putting it,” Jeffrey says.

By the end of the day, Scientology had put on its full case to support its anti-SLAPP motion.

“They did make their full argument. They had like six lawyers, all very good lawyers, arguing. But at the end it was like being at a buffet with 35 desserts, and you’re forced to eat every single one off them — it’s too much,” Jeffrey says.

“They want the case dismissed, but they haven’t given us one document or one photograph of what happened over the last 5 years. I told the judge, if you agree, they’ll go outside the courtroom and high-five each other for dismissing a case without giving up any evidence.”

And at times, they seemed to push the judge in ways that weren’t smart.

“An example of their overreaching is one of the lawyers — for Monty Drake — who stood up at the end and said, well, this is all over, with this hearing,” Jeffrey says, and the attorney was referring to the timing usually set for this kind of motion. But Waldrip clearly wasn’t buying it, Jeffrey says, and Waldrip said he “wasn’t going to play gotcha on dates.”

Jeffrey says it’s part of a pattern.

“It’s such overreaching all the time. They’re doing great, each of them is doing really great, but the cumulative result? It was so obvious what an impossible position they were putting the plaintiffs and the court in,” he says. “What they’re saying is, rule in our favor, and nobody gets anything from us.”

We asked if the remarkable text messages from 2007 that Monique’s side put on the record last week came up during the hearing.

“I referred to the texts repeatedly. I said, we finally have a smoking gun,” he says. The text messages show that while BBC journalist John Sweeney was making a documentary about Scientology, he was constantly being tracked and harassed by Scientology operatives — and Miscavige was in constant contact with them. Just a few days of the operation left behind a substantial paper trail. “We know they have all of these text messages and other stuff. We know that if they had to turn over the information [in Monique’s operations] he would be shocked by what’s in there.”

Jeffrey once again praised the performances of Scientology’s attorneys. But he also said that Judge Waldrip “really gets what the issues are.”

Tomorrow, he’ll submit a detailed request for evidence, and then on Friday we’ll see how Waldrip rules.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 8, 2014 at 22:00

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  • FromPolandWithLove

    New post 🙂 When I’m going to catch up with everything?

    • And I’m Cute, Too

      I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I never quite will. I don’t follow all of Tony’s posts myself (though he is most awesome).

      But I do read as much as I can about the court cases involving the Co$. Those provide the most reward for my investment of time.

  • InterestedinCrazy

    Bizarre but interesting and confusing mention about the ‘church’ of Sci in an article about brainwashing and mind control, with the headline picture being Ian Watkins, lead singer of a band who was charged and convicted of child sex offenses, etc…also mentioned are a couple who were found guilty of murdering their own children in a tragic fire. Watkins victims were contacted through their own mothers who offered up their children for abuse by their musical icon. Disgusting.

    “Critics of the Church of Scientology will find this ironic, but its reclassification as a religion by the Supreme Court last week highlights the importance that we as a society attach to critical thinking. And with good reason: it is the closest we have to a vaccine against deception. We relinquish it at our peril. And yet, as cases like that of Mairead Philpott may demonstrate, we do not always have a choice.

    Mick and Mairead Philpott held a tearful press conference

    Sometimes, we are told, people’s vulnerability is such that their desire to believe a deceiver’s hopeful message overrides their capacity to question it. Unwittingly, therefore, they shift in status from admirer to uncritical servant. It is high time we got our heads round this phenomenon; the fate of several young women may depend on it.”

    I can’t get my head around the ‘jist’ of this article…are they de-vilifying the criminals under the false assumption they were coerced into their horrid crimes? I am unsure but the mention of Co$ in this article is a bad association.

    I suppose one could say parents who sent their children off to the Sea Org to be dominated, abused, manipulated and used could also be in the same though lesser category than a mother/father who puts their own child knowingly in harms way.

    • vistaril_LOL

      Interesting.The Indie has picked up lots of clam stories over the last year. Meanwhile The Guardian never says a peep – they have half a dozen feminist columnists yacking about the lack of women in the boardroom and porn but never once do they mention the likes of Jenna Miscavige Hill, Sam Domingo, Karen DC , Laura Decrescenzo, Astra Woodcraft etc etc……

      The other week their “Penny Red” columnist wrote a sucky artitcle about Neil Gaiman in a lefty political mag -not a single word about cult abuses. How many of the same LA land idiots defended Polanksi and similtaneously complained about Germany’s attitude toward $camology!!!GRRR

      Feel better now that rant is over…….)~~~~~~~~~~

    • Snippy_X

      Nice essay, but it is convoluted. Had to read it a couple of times. Two other quotes;

      A recent comment by the incumbent Lord Chief Justice betrays the answer.
      “We have an insufficient understanding of the nature of coercion.”

      Any choice, moral or other, presupposes the capacity to choose. And, while we may assume that people choose to enter the morally disorientated worlds in which they find hemselves, we do so at the expense of possible alternative narratives. That is, we do so at the
      expense of justice.

      I think what the author is saying is that by classifying $cientology as a religion, we are saying this group is not guided by science or critical thinking. It is akin to a warning label – enter at your own risk. But there is a component of this that we “know” in our gut, which is, those who end up coerced are victims and because it happens so often, it may be time to seriously re-examine the power of coercion to remove the target’s ability to make moral choices. Could it happen to virtually anyone under the right circumstance and if so, how do you dispense justice?

      Thx for posting that, IC. The courts seem to not want to “go there” and “presupposes the capacity to choose.” At some point, we will need to address this phenomenon.

  • i-Betty

    How generous is was of Nick Rogers to report for Tony. And Mike Bennitt is, as always, a star 🙂

  • Coupon Coupons

    Tony thank u for reporting this. I’ve been fascinated with the subject of this cult for years. I pray those people get out. It’s so funny looking from the outside but inside we can’t know what each person is enduring and why they make such foolish Decisions. Your reports are so up to date!! They are my must read each evening. I applaud you for your in depth reporting as well as Monique’s attorneys Jeffrey and others for their intelligent and fearless representation. May truth prevail!!!

  • i-Betty

    This was my favourite song of 2012, and I apologise if it has already been posted here, but it’s perfect!

    • Anandamide

      I love Stooshe! They and the Heavy are some of my favorites!

      • i-Betty

        Yay! 😀

    • shasha40

      Highly appropriate , Good call ! A monster tiny dick is indeed !

  • Xenu Was A Nihilist

    COB is clearly coming undone, in the mental capacity department…How much $$$ is the “church” shelling out for all those attorneys???? Sheesh, can you imagine what could be done with the money spent on just those attorney fees?
    Too bad the brainwashed victims of this cult have removed themselves from the internets, and media outlets, surely knowing the circumstances of this lawsuit would open some of their eyes?

    • Anandamide

      CoS=money pit. OT: Love your avatar! Molotov Cocktease and her Blackhearts.

    • Sue

      I don’t think they want to know – they pay good money to remain suspended in that upside down world of make believe.

    • Bob

      That day cost the church. Maybe 20 x $400-500 an hour. 8-10 hours. Let’s say 10. Cost to the church for the day a minimum of $100,000.00. Guess who foots the bill? Us clams.

      • Missionary Kid

        You’ve already paid for it. He’s using his ill-gotten gains he’s sucked out of the members in the past. I predict that his income will be negative from Co$. I predict that this year that the orgs will start to shut down because they don’t have enough income.

        • Bob

          Gat II may get him through the first part of the year and then crash!

  • Chee Chalker

    Ray Jeffrey and his small crew continues to impress! I can’t begin to imagine how mentally exhausting it must be to battle 20+ attorneys, but at least he has the truth and common decency on his side. And an intelligent judge……Waldrip is proving to be smart about his approach. I’ve seen a few posts asking why he allows the Co$ to go on like they have been. He is obviously aware this will be appealed if the Co$ does not get everything it wants. Waldrip is smart….let them get everything on the record, let them continue to contradict themselves. I am sure he realizes that is is not the attorneys idea to present such cheesy self serving videos into evidence. Only an idiot would do that. It becomes obvious very early on who is driving the bus during litigation. Is is the attorney who knows the tricks and understands the subtle moves one makes in court? Or is the moronic client who thinks they know everything and is demanding that a case be presented a certain way. DM’s stupidity continues to amaze me.

    • Zana

      From the way you said this, I think that perhaps the Judge is not only seeing the truth… but he is seeing the heroic nature of who Ray Jeffrey is and wanting to stop this craziness from the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. I agree with you… he’s letting them talk and talk and get their moronic statements into the record so that he can use the long, entangled ropes to hang them with.

      We will see as this plays out… but it feels like this could be the turning point. The case that cracks open the whole rotten organization. He has to gauge the whole thing then put his chisel at the exact right spot and then tap… and the whole thing will come apart. Like the Toreador with the bull… he dances gracefully with the bull until he is ready, then finally entices the bull to charge. At the exact moment he drops the sword between the shoulder blades and the bull crumbles at his feet.

      I am not big on bull fighting. I left the arena when I was taken to one in Spain… however, I appreciate the analogy in this instance. The bull in a bullfight is innocent. The Co$ is like a destructive, charging bull — with tentacles and shark-like teeth and a voracious appetite to eat everything that comes near.

    • Silence of the Clams

      Agreed. Everyone knows they are going to appeal. And I don’t think it’s lost on Waldrip that this is a high profile case with the possibility of creating some new law, as it relates to first Amendment and jurisdictional issues. I don’t blame him for moving very carefully.

      That being said, I’m pretty confident the judge has done some research on COS. The large number of lawyers, the endless petitions and the video, customized for the courtroom? Waldrip isn’t stupid. He knows someone is behind that.

      I think Mosey gets more discovery. In fact, I think she gets much more. Captain Blackheart will be deposed but I don’t expect him to play ball so that could be another interesting turn.

      It’s pretty clear this is going to a settlement once they find out all of their motions have been squashed. Though I can’t help but wish for a jury trial. Can you imagine getting Tiny Tot on the stand and they have to give him a phone book to sit on? And I guess they have to swear him in over a copy of dianetics huh?

      Ok…I can dream.

  • Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

    It is really an open and shut case, but between the open and the shut there are twenty high priced lawyers.

    • Missionary Kid

      Can you spell L E G A L D E L A Y S?

  • Marc Wilson

    Fascinating case, thanks for the coverage.

  • InterestedinCrazy

    Dancing accountant J&Ding outside Sci Org (it might be Sydney?)
    to a song called “Spaceman” …how apt

  • ZippyThePinHead

    Hmmmm. I smell fear.

  • 3feetback-of-COS

    “It doesn’t matter if my client has a black heart, what matters is that it’s a case of religion.”

    And if it is NOT a case of religion, that just leaves it that your client has a black heart.

  • ChristinaRi

    I get somewhat confused with what is happening in the courtroom. It makes me want to drive to New Braunfels and attend the hearing myself. I will be in Texas at the end of January, so maybe I’ll get lucky. As I see it, one of the major problems is that our civil legal system and discovery rules depend on the basic honesty of litigants and lawyers representing them. In this case there is a breakdown because CoS has no respect for the system and follows the teachings of a leader that says to lie. If I were the attorney, I would be trotting that out in every deposition and hearing. What takes precedence? The oath you swore to tell the truth or the direction of your religious source?

  • vistaril_LOL

    I liked seeing “perjury” referring to the Archer boy…..most exciting. From SeaOrg sabatical to texas jail sabatical.

    • David

      When did that happen?? That would be great. There needs to be accountability for the lies.

      • vistaril_LOL

        in the scribd motion for discovery – outlining how the CSMF texts contradict Tommys fairy story.

      • vistaril_LOL
  • Still_On_Your_Side

    I’m surprised that Waldrip didn’t ask whether the narrator for the documentary film was a lawyer, licensed in Texas, who had submitted a notice of appearance in the case. It clearly was an attempt to have Miscavige argue directly before the court and Waldrip was correct not to listen to it. Cedillo expressly stated the film had been made for the case. What kind of nonsense is this? It’s not evidence, it could only contain hearsay, and it’s narrated by someone not before the court. If you ask me, this action clearly shows how desperate Miscavige is and how much he fears Monique and this case.

    • Missionary Kid

      Desperate and bullheaded and stupid. He obviously had it put together according to his orders and he ordered his attorneys to show it. They had to know that it wasn’t legal, but since he ordered them to show it, they at least tried.

      I’ll bet he’ll be angry at the judge because of his self-centered hubris. I believe he will be thinking that the judge was somehow prejudiced against him simply because the judge wouldn’t look at his “evidence.”

      His idea of evidence probably either comes from a grade school or television conception or the idea that since he’s the head of a religion, so he feels his words should have more weight. That’s all bullshit, and his attorneys know it, but they went along with his orders because of the pay and probably bullying on his part.

  • Jgg2012

    Here is an explanation of the corporate structures of Scientology.

  • gmo2ashes

    I’m waiting for them to enlist the help of Supreme Ruler Xenu to the rescue. Nanu nanu.

  • JonHenke

    Scientology Lawyers, summarized: “Ok, we stipulate that David Miscavige is an asshole. But, if you review the sacred texts of Scientology, you will find that he is required to be an asshole. We prefer to call it “at cause” or high on the tone scale. Mr. Miscavige is very busy postulating, and if that comes across to you as “asshole”, maybe you need to spend more time with a trained auditor to find out what is wrong with you. But, no, really, we get it. He’s a total asshole. It’s doctrine.”

  • Scream Nevermore

    ‘A set of images, for example, of David Miscavige opening churches in Oslo, Johannesburg, Dallas.’ OK, that’s a set of images showing an ecclesiastical leader opening an org in Dallas, ie, carrying out his ecclesiastical business in Texas. Where he claims he has never carried out any business. Even I can see that through the (legal) drug haze!