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Hillary Clinton has considered David Miscavige’s appeals lawyer for the US Supreme Court

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Over the last couple of weeks, several news organizations have written about a John Podesta email published by Wikileaks which suggests that even before US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead on February 13, the Hillary Clinton campaign had considered a replacement for him, an African-American attorney named Wallace Jefferson who is a Texas Republican and had been chief justice of the state’s supreme court.

Just hours after Scalia was found dead at a hunting ranch in Texas, Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s campaign, exchanged emails with Chris Stone, president of the George Soros-funded grantmaking network known as Open Society Foundations.

Under the heading “Scalia replacement,” Stone wrote, “Remember our discussion of Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice in Texas?”

Podesta replied, “Yup.”

Conservative outlets have howled over the idea that Clinton’s campaign was apparently already considering a replacement for Scalia while he was still alive. Liberal commenters, meanwhile, have expressed outrage that Clinton would consider a Republican for a seat on the Supreme Court when that’s the issue — altering the makeup of the court — that has helped convince some reluctant progressive voters to support Clinton over Donald Trump.

What none of those news stories has pointed out is that after Wallace Jefferson stepped down from his position as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 2013 in part because of the position’s relatively low pay, he almost immediately climbed aboard the legal gravy train made up of the team of lawyers representing the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, in a Texas harassment lawsuit.

It was Wallace Jefferson’s 89-page petition for a writ of mandamus — which legal experts told us at the time faced long odds — that convinced the Texas Third Court of Appeals to spare Miscavige from having to be deposed in the case. (The lawsuit was ultimately dropped earlier this year.)

That ruling, an impressive court victory by Jefferson, was handed down in July 2014, well before the exchange between Podesta and Chris Stone, and enough time for them to know that Jefferson had gone from state supreme court justice to David Miscavige’s personal appeals attorney.

We’ve pointed out numerous times that while Donald Trump is often compared to L. Ron Hubbard for his blustering style, it’s actually Hillary Clinton who would come to the White House with considerable Scientology baggage.

Wallace Jefferson was president of the San Antonio Bar Association before he joined the state supreme court as an associate justice in 2001. He was appointed chief justice by Governor Rick Perry in 2004, and he then set out to make courtroom justice more accessible to the poor and to use technology in ways to make the courts more effective. In other words, he was a moderate Republican with centrist views, but he decided to step down nine years later, in December 2013. In an interview, he admitted that it was challenging to have two kids in college on a salary of about $150,000 a year.

Four months before Jefferson stepped down, in August 2013 Monique Rathbun filed an electrifying lawsuit in Comal County, Texas, alleging that she’d been subjected to several years of constant surveillance and harassment by operatives from the Church of Scientology because her husband, Mark “Marty” Rathbun, was a former top executive in the organization. In 2009, Marty Rathbun began writing a blog harshly critical of Scientology leader David Miscavige, and the church struck back with teams of church members, private investigators, and lawyers who, it was alleged in sworn testimony, were on a mission to make the Rathbuns’ life “a living hell.”

Monique sued several individual Scientology corporate entities, officials, and operatives, and they were represented by a large team of attorneys. David Miscavige was named as a defendant, and Monique alleged that the church leader was the ringleader of the stalking and harassment. Miscavige tried to keep himself out of the lawsuit by filing a “special appearance.” His personal attorney in the matter was Lamont Jefferson, brother to Wallace.

But after the hearings in the lawsuit started to take place, we noticed that Wallace himself began to attend them, and we managed to get a photograph of him taking part…

 
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Wallace sat and took notes of what was being said, and it became pretty obvious to our legal experts that Wallace was being used to prepare appeals. Sure enough, after Comal County District Judge Dib Waldrip ruled that Monique could depose Miscavige in order to make a decision about his “special appearance,” Wallace swung into action.

He appealed Waldrip’s ruling to the Texas Third Court of Appeals with a petition for a writ of mandamus — something that our experts said was a longshot.

As we observed at the time, Wallace really laid it on thick as he tried to convince the appeals court that David Miscavige was not the ringleader of a harassment campaign, but was instead the exalted leader of a worldwide religion and so it would be distasteful to haul him into court to face questions under oath…

In his spiritual role, Mr. Miscavige has devoted himself to the religion’s orthodoxy and growth. He has led a global campaign to ensure that each Church of Scientology is “ideal in location, design, quality of religious services and social betterment programs”; a multi-year project to restore and preserve the integrity of fundamental Scientology scripture as written or recorded by L. Ron Hubbard, the religion’s founder, and the development of a comprehensive Scientology counseling and ministerial-training program. Mr. Miscavige has devoted his ministry to ensuring that Scientology churches practice only the Scientology scripture as Mr. Hubbard delivered. These activities have required extensive travel and over 100 hours of Mr. Miscavige’s time each week. Under his leadership, the religion has experienced unprecedented growth, and these endeavors have required that Mr. Miscavige cede administrative control of Church management to others.

In other words, David Miscavige was too busy playing Pope of Scientology to be involved in anything as sordid as stalking the Rathbuns. Especially when they were just a couple of media hounds looking for notoriety, Wallace said…

This is a high-profile, media-driven dispute between a former member of the Church of Scientology, Marty Rathbun, his wife Monique Rathbun, and the Church. After serving 20 years in various Church positions, Marty Rathbun was demoted in 2003, left the Church in 2004, and was excommunicated. Since that time, he has engaged in a conspicuous, public battle with the Church and a personal vendetta against Mr. Miscavige. Mr. Rathbun’s wife, Plaintiff Monique Rathbun, has interjected herself into that dispute, feeding the public controversy through her Facebook postings and links to Mr. Rathbun’s anti-Scientology blog….Mr. Rathbun’s religious war has been waged in his wife’s name.

Criticizing the Rathbuns as publicity-seekers and defending Miscavige as a pious leader was pretty standard stuff for a court brief. But Jefferson’s advantage turned out to be a concept that the appeals court really took to heart — the notion of an “apex deposition.” The reasoning goes something like this: Plaintiffs who sue big companies tend to name the CEO as a defendant as a matter of course, even if that CEO had no direct involvement in whatever it is the plaintiff is suing over. Texas law is favorable to CEOs who argue that this is an abusive practice, and that they shouldn’t automatically get hauled in for a deposition. Deposing the top official is a special case called an apex deposition that should have some really compelling reason to take place.

Monique argued that there was plenty of historical evidence to suggest that David Miscavige in fact does micromanage retaliation campaigns against Scientology’s perceived enemies. But the appeals court agreed with Jefferson that Miscavige should be protected under the “apex deposition” concept, and it reversed Judge Waldrip’s ruling.

Whatever Miscavige was paying Wallace Jefferson — and we have reason to believe it was quite generous — the church leader got his money’s worth.

A year and a half later, in November 2015, that same appeals court sided with Monique Rathbun on a separate question, and one that Wallace Jefferson was not involved in. It was a stunning ruling by the court that put the Rathbuns in a very strong position. However, two months later Monique mysteriously fired her entire legal team, and then dropped the lawsuit altogether in May.

But we still remember Wallace Jefferson and his involvement in the case. Wouldn’t it be something if the man who saved David Miscavige from having to testify by lauding him as a pious worldwide religious leader ended up on this country’s highest court?

We’ll be interested to find out whether Hillary Clinton still has him in mind if she wins next week’s election.

 
UPDATE: We asked our expert TX Lawyer for his thoughts, and here’s what he sent us…

Wallace Jefferson is a thoroughly decent human being, not an overtly political person or a culture warrior. He is certainly a Republican, but of the old school, Anthony Kennedy/George HW Bush variety. I’d be shocked if he has ever said anything positive about Donald Trump, much less endorsed anything of his ilk. He is no Tea Partier. He has a thoughtful and receptive legal mind, and I have never thought he was biased against any litigant in his judicial career.

That said . . . I cannot fathom that Clinton was ever possibly considering him for a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, and I would freak right the hell out if she were to ever burn a chance to flip the Supreme Court like she is most likely about to have the chance to do. Wallace Jefferson is a good guy, but the (R) after his name on the ballot is real. I would expect him to vote with the conservative bloc at least 90 percent of the time. Maybe he would depart from time to time on culture stuff like Kennedy has done so memorably on gay rights, maybe here and there on right wing heresies like the Affordable Care Act. But bottom line is that he would be a conservative vote for a conservative legal agenda way more often than not.

From the tiny comment in that Podesta email, I would be more inclined to think that he and the Soros guy had been discussing something like the difference between a partisan ideologue like Scalia — who, remember, explicitly invoked crazy bullshit he had heard on Limbaugh in multiple oral arguments in the last decade of his life — and a reasonable conservative you could actually have a fact-based, rational discussion with.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 1, 2016 at 07:00

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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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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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