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Texas Supreme Court asks for Monique Rathbun’s response to Scientology’s petition

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The Texas Supreme Court has asked Monique Rathbun for a response to the Church of Scientology’s petition for review of a lower court’s ruling, and now she has until May 23 to file a highly technical legal document.

Monique had waived her right to respond after Scientology filed its petition, in hopes that the court might ignore the church’s request to take the case up on appeal. But as our expert predicted, the Texas high court couldn’t keep its hands off such an intriguing case.

Scientology wants the court to review a decision by Comal County district Judge Dib Waldrip, which was upheld by the Texas Third Court of Appeals. Scientology had filed an “anti-SLAPP” motion, objecting to Monique’s harassment lawsuit as an unjust infringement of its First Amendment rights. Monique is suing because she says the church subjected her to years of surveillance, being photographed, followed, and stalked, and for dirty tricks operations that left her humiliated and afraid.

But Scientology argued that its operations, aimed at Monique’s husband, former Scientology executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun, were simply its way of defending itself against Marty’s blog posts that were critical of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Judge Waldrip disagreed, saying that Scientology was really a business defending its turf, and it couldn’t use the First Amendment to keep its behavior from being litigated in a civil court. The Texas Third Court of Appeals agreed, saying that Scientology’s stalking and surveillance really shouldn’t be considered protected free speech.

Scientology wants the state supreme court to consider whether the appeals court used the proper standard of evidence in its decision, and it filed a very technical legal argument to support its petition.

But just before that happened, Monique Rathbun fired her entire legal team, even though she had been on a winning streak. She now has until May 23 to file a response, and at this point she’s proceeding without an attorney.

Once again, we turned to our expert, an attorney in Texas who has appellate experience and goes by the handle TexasLawyer, for some help understanding the situation.

My initial reaction is that somebody in the clerk’s office screwed up the description there — “Requested responses to petitions for writ of mandamus due no later than May 23, 2016.” This is a petition for review, not the more difficult to obtain writ of mandamus. That said, there isn’t much to it at this point. All we know for sure is that at least one of the nine justices on the court was interested enough to want to hear more beyond just Scientology’s opening brief. It will be more telling when this round of briefing is complete and it is time for the court to vote on the case again. It takes the votes of at least three justices to move on to full briefs on the merits. If there are three votes at that stage, despite the respondent deciding to proceed without counsel, I would say there is a pretty good chance Scientology will obtain full review of the case (which takes votes from at least four judges).

It’s worth keeping in mind here that the Church’s petition is challenging the legal standards applied by the lower court, not really the merits of the case. That’s the sort of thing supreme courts love to straighten out, but you have to wonder if this is the right case for them to do so, since the respondent’s briefing and (heaven forbid) oral argument probably are not going to be especially helpful to the court on those legal issues.

And I hope someone points Marty towards O’Connor’s Texas Civil Appeals. It’s a great reference source for the process he and Monique are about to go through.

So now Monique is on the clock. We wish her the best, and hope she can get some good help preparing her document.

 
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Rod Keller’s Scientology social media review!

And now we proceed with our usual Sunday feature, Rod Keller’s look at Scientologists and their social media shares of the week…

 
A lone staff member at the newly opened Atlanta Ideal Org patrols the sidewalk with a sign that says “Open House.”

 
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A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit seaside towns in Ecuador on April 16, killing more than 500 and leaving many more injured or homeless. In response, members of Los Topos, or “The Moles” traveled from their homes in Mexico to the area to provide recovery and rescue assistance. Los Topos are self-funded and self-trained experts in rescue from collapsed buildings and underground passages. They are also Scientology Volunteer Ministers, as seen in the patch on the uniform of their leader, Hector “El Chino” Mendez (above). After rescuing the injured, Los Topos deal with the grim work of recovering the bodies of the dead, and their work can extend long after the immediate crisis is over.

 
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Joining them is Shannon Barnes (above, right), an American Scientologist and certified Emergency Medical Technician. He previously volunteered and assisted Los Topos following the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Scientologists have raised over $500 to help fund his efforts on Gofundme.

 
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The capital city of Quito did not suffer much damage, so medically untrained Scientologists from the mission there traveled to the earthquake zone to deliver water and provide “touch assists” to injured or frightened residents.

 
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Also in Ecuador, members of the Quito OT Committee presented a leather-bound edition of “The Basics” set of books by L. Ron Hubbard to Gustavo Baroja, Prefect of Pichincha Province. Prefect is an elected position that controls government purchasing and hiring of civil servants, making the office known as a center of nepotism and corruption.

 
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A contest among missions to sign up new members for the International Association of Scientologists shows the Capitol Mission of Taiwan and South Coast Mission in Lake Forest, California in the lead.

 
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The Durban, South Africa org purchased an Ideal Org building in 2007, but it was torn down for structural deficiencies. This week they had a boat trip to raise money to buy another building to be their Ideal Org.

 
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The Quebec Scientology org is planning a march against overuse of Psychiatric medications on April 30. They plan to march from the org on Rue St. Joseph Estate to L’Hôpital Saint-François d’Assise in La Cité-Limoilou, which is the central borough of the city, a walk of about 2 Km.

 
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Galaxy Marketing Solutions opened a new office in Clearwater, Florida this week, complete with “Admin Tech” reference books, a photo of L. Ron Hubbard and a Scientology seven-division Org Board. Galaxy produces web sites, newsletters, flyers and advertising postcards for their clients.

 
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Visotsky Consulting opened a new office in Rostov-on-Don, a city in Russia near the Sea of Azov. Visotsky is one of the largest WISE consulting companies, primarily in Russian-speaking countries. They assist clients who wish to implement the Hubbard Management System, which emphasizes tracking of weekly statistics, Scientology ethics policies, and the use of the Scientology personality test in making hiring decisions. Attendees at the grand opening posed in front of their Org Board.

 
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— Rod Keller

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on April 24, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

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

 

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