Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Did Tom Mesereau just reveal his strategy for Danny Masterson’s crucial prelim?

On January 20 Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson entered a not guilty plea to three counts of forcible rape, charges that have him facing 45 years to life in prison. He wasn’t actually in the courtroom that day, his plea was entered by his high-profile defense attorney, Tom Mesereau.

The next big step in Masterson’s prosecution will be the preliminary hearing, which will take place later this year. That’s when his victims will have their first opportunity to provide live testimony in the courtroom of Judge Charlaine Olmedo at Los Angeles Superior Court.

The point of a preliminary hearing is for the prosecutor, Deputy DA Reinhold Mueller, to convince Judge Olmedo that there’s enough evidence to justify having a trial and asking a jury to decide Masterson’s fate. It would also be the first opportunity for Mesereau and his co-counsel, Sharon Appelbaum, to cross-examine the women.

Normally, a preliminary hearing takes a few days and is less of a production than the actual trial. But there’s reason to believe that may not be the case this time.


Last Monday, Mesereau appeared in a video interview with attorney Arash Hashemi for his podcast, Better Call Hash. In the interview Hashemi asked Mesereau about cameras in the courtroom.

So far, Mesereau has objected each time to the media being present and recording the hearings in the Masterson case. But to Hashemi, the famous defense attorney gave a lengthy explanation for one time in his career when cameras in the courtrooom were vital to his success: The preliminary hearing for actor Robert Blake.

Blake was facing a possible death penalty over the 2001 shooting death of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley. He was accused of hiring someone to shoot her, based on the testimony of two stuntmen who claimed that Blake had asked them to kill his wife. Mesereau was brought in just for the preliminary hearing, and he explained how his strategy for it proved to be a surprise and led eventually to Blake being acquitted.

Now in the Robert Blake case, I was there for the preliminary hearing, which lasted three weeks. And I was asked by the court staff on behalf of the judge, did I want cameras, and I said yes. And I had a strategy in the Blake case which was that I was going to turn a preliminary hearing which everyone expected to be about three days into three weeks of a trial. And what I was going to do was I really sensed hubris on the part of these prosecutors. They seemed to be feeling no pain, they seemed to think that they had this thing in the bag. And I was new to the case and I think they thought I couldn’t be prepared to do a serious cross-examination even if I wanted to. And I did prepare and I turned it into a mini trial and their witnesses were not prepared for cross.

As we both know as criminal lawyers that a criminal lawyer rarely does much cross in a prelim — one, because we’re not always ready for it. It’s early in the case. And two, because we don’t want to give away our cross-examination which will happen at trial. And you know we’re just not, we’re just not usually very prepared. Well, I prepared morning noon and night and went into the courtroom — and all of this was on Court TV at the time — and I started really whacking these witnesses hard, and made a record that I think was very instrumental to his acquittal at trial because the prosecution put on their most important witnesses at the prelim, eyewitnesses to his allegedly trying to solicit a hit man.

All their forensic people testified. They had other people testify and they just weren’t prepared for cross, in my opinion, and they weren’t good witnesses. So the cameras in the courtroom really helped us because going into that preliminary hearing Court TV had some surveys done and going into it the vast 80 plus percent of Americans thought he was guilty. Coming out of the prelim three weeks later 80 plus percent of viewers American viewers thought he was not guilty. So I think it had a lot to do with changing public opinion about Blake.

I think it had a lot to do with exposing weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and locking witnesses into statements and testimony that they ended up living to regret. Two very good prosecutors were replaced by one I don’t think was as strong as they were because there was some embarrassment that the prosecution’s case looked as bad as it did. And I got Blake bail in a capital case. You know, as you know in California if you’re charged with murder with special circumstances which is a capital case meaning you can face either death or life without parole there’s supposed to be no bail. Well, Blake was charged with murder with special circumstances — they said he was lying in wait and that was one one factor for the shooting — and he was repeatedly denied bail. I got him bail at the end of the preliminary hearing. It was $1.5 million with an ankle bracelet. So that’s a situation where I said, put cameras in, they’re going to help us.

What a remarkable story. We emailed Mesereau Friday to ask if he was planning something similar in the Masterson case. We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.

If he is planning to turn the Masterson prelim into a three-week mini-trial, he probably would not find that the prosecutor, Mueller, is under-prepared. The LAPD first brought the case to the DA’s office in April 2017 — this has not been a hasty prosecution. And dragging the women victims through that kind of cross-examining might not play as well with the public as Mesereau’s questioning did in the Robert Blake case.

What do you think? Would putting Masterson’s victims through days of cross-examination, with cameras in the courtroom, sway public opinion to Danny’s side and make acquittal in a later trial more likely?


Source Code


“I had the officers of six other ships in my squadron come aboard, and only one of them stood alongside of me, and the other five were trying to convince me that if I kept this up I was going to get everybody killed. I said, ‘Kept what up?’ ‘You keep attacking these submarines.’ I said, ‘What are we supposed to be doing, gentlemen?’ And they said, ‘Well, every time a submarine shows up, you needn’t signal attack! It’s stupid! You’re going to get somebody hurt!’ I proved to them tactically that if you did not suddenly attack a submarine and if you did retire behind the convoy every time one showed up, you’re going to get yourself killed for sure — for sure! This was not in their level of agreement. They never did get it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 1, 1957


Avast, Ye Mateys

“You realize, Officers and Crew, if you bring this cruise off splendidly, no port of the entire Med or Continental Europe is closed to us. The enemy anti-ship action will have been totally defeated. Keep that in mind when a little extra zing has to go into the action. It will be a big coup if you bring it off.” — The Commodore, February 1, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“What surprises me is why so many people at least in public groups outside Rons Org drop off the CBR Bridge at around OT 16. What CBR states about the Other Determined Case and the Pan-Determined Case is absolutely true. It doesn’t matter what the route is. These vast areas of case are in truth what we actually need to handle yet only a very small number of people seem to recognise this, assume responsibility and step beyond the limitations of their own self-determined viewpoints. Unless a person assumes at least a willingness to assume total responsibility for all interactions across all dynamics and across the entirety of existence itself plus the totality of our theta relationships, the brilliant, the good, the bad and the ugly, as those relationships, interactions and dynamics, then the person basically doesn’t stand a chance of summoning up the necessary stability and confront to handle the other determined and pan determined case and so remains doomed to eternity, due to a condition of diminished responsibility. Thus the New Civilisation Game. Without PURPOSE, a person simply doesn’t make it through. That’s my take on why people drop off the CBR Bridge without completing the cycle of action to its final EP and Valuable Final Exchangeable Product.”


Past is Prologue

2002: The St. Petersburg Times reported that Scientology invited notable Clearwater area residents to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Fort Harrison Hotel at a banquet in the Hotel. “The Church of Scientology, long on the fringe of the Clearwater community, will roll out the red carpet at its Fort Harrison Hotel tonight, staging a black tie gala for the area’s power elite. And while several notables sent regrets, many others are going. “Tonight’s party ranks as another indicator Scientology is gaining acceptance in a community historically suspicious of the church, if not hostile. Clearly pleased by the number of acceptances, Scientologists say their volunteerism and other civic efforts are making a difference.”



Random Howdy

“I still keep coming back to the fact that the mind control/brainwashing/undue influence only worked on a very small percentage of those exposed to it. I think that the focus should be on what the 5 percent (or thereabouts) of the exposed population who joined groups like Scientology, the NSDAP or the Khmer Rouge have in common.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Next conf to set prelim, March 24.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to March 2.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. March 8: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] What are Valerie Haney’s options after Scientology won its arbitration motion?
[TWO years ago] NFL great Marshall Faulk plugs Scientology front group on Fox News
[THREE years ago] Viewers react to Tampa NBC affiliate saying Scientology is sponsoring Winter Olympics
[FOUR years ago] The odd and slightly troubling thing Elon Musk and L. Ron Hubbard have in common
[SIX years ago] About that Scientology ad you saw on TV before and during the Super Bowl
[SEVEN years ago] Jon Atack takes apart the Scientology E-meter
[EIGHT years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 5: Your Mind is a 1950s Computer
[NINE years ago] The 5 Worst Things Judges Have Said About Scientology


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,199 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,703 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,223 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,243 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,134 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,441 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,309 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,083 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,887 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,203 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,769 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,688 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,856 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,437 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,698 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,736 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,449 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,974 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 329 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,504 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,055 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,204 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,524 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,379 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,498 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,854 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,157 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,263 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,665 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,537 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,120 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,615 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,869 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,978 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 31, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

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 | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email