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Scientology asks court to freeze Laura D’s forced-abortion case for a long-shot appeal

[Laura DeCrescenzo and Bert Deixler]

We told you that Bert Deixler, Scientology’s top-flight attorney, had filed a notice that the church planned to appeal a federal court ruling even after getting shot down in its latest attempt to throw up a roadblock before Laura DeCrescenzo finally gets her day in court this August on her 9-year forced-abortion lawsuit.

Now, we have the actual argument that Deixler is making to the Los Angeles Superior Court that it should put a stay on Laura’s case while the church pursues a long-shot appeal even after its Hail Mary federal lawsuit was stomped by a judge who killed it “with prejudice” to keep it from coming back.

As a sign of the church’s desperation, Deixler uses some pretty intimidating-sounding language in this motion for a stay to convince the state court in Los Angeles that it should hold things up since the church’s federal appeal could win the day and make everything go away…

“This Court should not proceed to trial in the matter when there is a real possibility that trial will be unnecessary or, worse, that trial would go forward in a case later enjoined by the federal courts, thus wasting both the parties’ and the Court’s resources,” Deixler writes.

Wow. Let’s remember how we got here so you can get some sense of how obnoxious that statement is.

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Laura was just 12 years old when she signed the billion-year contract of the Sea Org and began working 90-hour weeks until she turned 13, when she was put on the 112-hour adult schedule. When she was 17, she’s testified, she was coerced into having an abortion because that’s been Scientology policy since at least the 1970s, that its Sea Org women end their pregnancies so they can keep up the grueling schedule. The policy was supposedly ended in 2010, but we’ve seen some evidence that it’s still continuing today. Laura escaped the Sea Org in 2004 after getting so desperate to leave she drank bleach and was kicked out. She stayed in the church itself for four more years, but then filed her lawsuit in 2009 once she realized that it was an option. That delay — she was supposed to have filed it by 2008 — has been in part why the case has dragged on so long, but it’s also because she had to defeat two separate motions for summary judgment filed by the church, and numerous times the case changed judges.

She finally has a trial set for August, but in December Scientology filed its long-shot lawsuit in federal court, trying to argue that a federal judge should step in and wipe out Laura’s state court lawsuit, even though Scientology has been litigating it there for years.

That federal judge, George Wu, saw through Scientology’s gambit, and he granted Laura’s motion to dismiss on May 3, with prejudice, preventing the church from refiling the case with some changed language. It was about as much a slam-dunk as Laura could hope for, and the way seemed clear for her state trial.

But now Deixler is arguing that Laura’s case should be put on hold so Scientology can pursue a long-shot appeal of its long-shot federal gambit.

We hope the state court can see through this dishonesty. A hearing in the matter has been set for June 8.

We asked attorney Scott Pilutik, who has followed this case for years, for his thoughts on this motion…

Scientology is asking the California court to hit the pause button on the looming trial date while its federal appeal is heard by the Ninth Circuit. They’re right that a successful appeal would moot the need for a trial, but they’re misrepresenting their appeal’s chances for success, which is a key factor in determining whether to allow the stay. An appeal based on a hail-Mary motion brought years after it could have conceivably been brought, and that was rejected “with prejudice,” isn’t likely to find a friendly ear.

I’m unsure of the particular interplay between federal and state court concerns here but I don’t believe Scientology even can appeal the federal court decision by right, given how they’re attempting to use it to stay a trial. To the extent this can be viewed as an interlocutory appeal, such appeals have to clear a higher bar because they’re naturally regarded as potential delay tactics. Except it’s not a true interlocutory appeal–Scientology is playing federal and state courts off each other.

Recall that this case started out, many years ago, in federal court until Scientology successfully got one of the federal causes of action dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, thus robbing federal court of jurisdiction, which is why we’re now in state court.

Scientology’s argument here appears to be that the California courts, in deciding that Laura’s claims weren’t time-barred (despite that the statute of limitations had run) due to Laura’s credible claim that Scientology’s misconduct caused her to delay filing, got it wrong in that they should have applied federal law instead of California law to that question. And, the argument goes, that federal analysis would have resulted in granting preclusive effect to that original federal dismissal, resulting in the dismissal of all of Laura’s claims.

Scientology’s argument raises too many questions it can’t answer straight-faced, such as why California would be required to analyze a state-claim statute of limitations question under federal law principles, and why Scientology waited years to bring the federal action it now claims implicates dire federal state comity issues.

 
Here’s the document filed by Deixler…

DeCrescenzo v. Scientology: Motion for stay during appeal by Tony Ortega on Scribd

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Narconon Ojai is back in business!

 

 
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Make your plans now!

HOWDYCON UPDATE

Hey, we’re only a month away from this year’s HowdyCon in Chicago, June 21-23. As in past years, we’re looking forward to meeting readers of the Bunker, culminating in Saturday night’s main event.

The biggest difference this year is that our Saturday night event is separate from that evening’s dinner. Chee Chalker is setting up an inexpensive pizza dinner that you don’t need to pay for ahead of time, after which we’ll walk over to the theater where our event, hosted by Chicago Fire star Christian Stolte, will take place. Because it’s a separate event, we’re asking that you pay $10 each to get into the Saturday night event, which will help us recoup what the Bunker paid for the venue. (We have never made a penny on our HowdyCon meetups, we only try to break even.)

Please email your proprietor (tonyo94 AT gmail) in order to reserve your spot for Saturday night’s main event. Seating is limited, and we’re going to have some really interesting people on stage and they may make a few announcements that you don’t want to miss.

 

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,123 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,726 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 269 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 157 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,332 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,106 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,880 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,226 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,792 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,460 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,720 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,760 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,472 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 998 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,087 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,227 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,547 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,522 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 878 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,180 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,286 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,689 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,561 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,143 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,648 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,892 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,001 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 23, 2018 at 06:25

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, 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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