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The questioner: Scientology brings in its legal ringer for a Florida showdown

Bert Deixler

Bert Deixler

We heard from a couple of readers who have been keeping an eye on the federal docket in the Luis and Rocio Garcia lawsuit against the Church of Scientology that a new document had been filed by the church on December 5.

We thanked them, letting them know that we had noticed it, and that it was not a major new development in the case. But it is noteworthy, and we wanted to explain why.

The December 5 filing was a submission by a California attorney, Bert Deixler, to be admitted pro hac vice so that he can appear in the Tampa courtroom and act on behalf of the church.

So why is Deixler being brought in to the Garcia case in Florida? The simple answer is that Scientology leader David Miscavige likes to use Deixler for the taking of depositions. We’ve seen the church use him in the Laura DeCrescenzo forced abortion case in Los Angeles, as well as in Monique Rathbun’s harassment lawsuit against Scientology in Comal County, Texas. We personally witnessed him in action in both places, and we even approached him at the courtroom in New Braunfels, Texas to ask him a question he declined to answer. More on that in a minute.

Deixler is needed in Tampa because, if you remember, Judge James D. Whittemore recently announced that he’s scheduled an evidentiary hearing for February 18. It will be something of a mini-trial so that he can make a decision on Scientology’s motion asking the court to compel the Garcias to use Scientology’s internal justice apparatus and dismiss the lawsuit from civil court. Scientology argues that allowing the lawsuit to continue is an infringement of its religious rights. The Garcias counter that their lawsuit is about fraud, not religion, and they say that Scientology’s internal arbitration system is a sham anyway. Scientology customarily makes this argument about religious arbitration in lawsuits, and so Judge Whittemore’s decision is a major one and could have a far-reaching effect. We sense that in calling for an evidentiary hearing, he’s being very careful in order to bolster whatever decision he makes in February.

In order to prepare for that hearing, Whittemore has given both sides leave to take depositions, and Scientology will be taking a number of them — not only the Garcias, but former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, his wife and former Sea Org member Christie Collbran, and others. For those depositions, Miscavige wants Deixler asking the questions.


Rinder tells us he’s not intimidated by Deixler, and doesn’t mind being put through another questioning. Deixler will no doubt do a thorough job, and his high reputation may help shore up the Scientology team, which so far has featured some less than stellar moments for church attorney Wally Pope in Whittemore’s courtroom.

But we want to make a point about Deixler’s stature. Should it take a hit for some of the things he’s already done for Scientology?

That’s the question we asked him in the hallway at the Comal County courtroom in New Braunfels, Texas. You see, back in 2013, it was Deixler who made impassioned arguments to the California Supreme Court and then the US Supreme Court that Scientology’s religious rights would be trashed if Laura DeCrescenzo were allowed to have access to her personal auditing folders in her forced-abortion lawsuit against the church. Deixler argued that the things written down in her folders should be covered with the same confidentiality as what is told a Catholic priest in a confession. But Laura’s legal team pointed out that more than 200 Scientology officials had seen the contents of her files, and that Scientology only wanted to keep them secret because of the damaging behavior they described, not for religious reasons.

Deixler, in his pleadings, really laid it on thick: “Scientology places great religious emphasis on the confidentiality of a parishioner’s auditing folders. Such folders cannot be disclosed without violating the fundamental religious tenets of the Church of Scientology.”

To the highest courts in the land, Deixler swore that these folders contained “very religious” material, and making them public would be a terrible infringement of Scientology’s very essence.

Both courts ignored him, and Laura finally got her files. And what was in them? Read our full story about that if you haven’t already, but among the things in her files were, for example, a confession she was forced to write at 12 years old, admitting that she had committed the “crime” of wanting to see her family. As a Sea Org worker who had signed a billion-year contract and was working 90-hour weeks for pennies an hour, she was required to suppress her homesickness and give up thoughts of seeing her mother again. In any other context, this might be considered a sick form of abuse and child slavery.

That’s the content Bert Deixler told the California and US Supreme Courts was “very religious” and deserved to be protected from Laura DeCrescenzo’s possession. (A trial in her lawsuit is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2015.)

We tried to bring that up with him in that courtroom hallway — was he concerned that his reputation might take a hit when it became known what he’d told the California Supreme Court and what turned out to be in those documents? He politely excused himself and said he wasn’t going to speak with us.

And since then, more than a year ago, we don’t think anyone else has asked him a similar question. Deixler continues to bill Scientology for his skills as a questioner. And back home, he’s considered a pillar of the community. In fact, just last month, he was being celebrated in a local publication, the Larchmont Buzz, for coming to the rescue of a beloved local independent bookstore. He and musician Darryl Holter had saved Chevalier’s bookstore from oblivion.


Well, that’s heartwarming. If you’re in the Larchmont Village area of Los Angeles, drop by sometime and ask if there’s a section of books on Scientology. We’d be interested to know.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 11, 2014 at 07:10

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

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