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US Supreme Court denies Valerie Haney; CA court gets letters on Scientology’s ‘neutrality’

 
We knew it was a longshot, but it was still disappointing to learn yesterday that the US Supreme Court was not interested in taking up Valerie Haney’s petition alleging that Scientology’s binding contract about “religious arbitration” is a violation of her religious rights.

That might have been a fascinating case for the court to hear, but we knew that the chances of her petition being chosen were very small. The court took on only a handful of new cases from the hundreds of petitions that were filed over the summer.

Valerie herself was unbowed.

“This is disappointing, but I’m encouraged by what is happening in the other lawsuit. I still have hope that there will be justice for the continued criminal and malicious conduct of Scientology,” she told us.

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To help you remember how we got here, Valerie filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging that she was being stalked and libeled by Scientology after she left her job in the Sea Org and then began working with Leah Remini and appearing on her A&E television series, Scientology & the Aftermath. Scientology countered by saying that Valerie had signed contracts obliging her to take any grievance to Scientology’s own internal “religious arbitration” and not to a court of law. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge agreed with Scientology and denied Valerie the right to sue. She asked the California Supreme Court to grant review of the decision, but it didn’t take up her petition. She then petitioned the US Supreme Court, but it now has also denied giving her an appeal.

However, while all that was going on, Scientology was also sued by another set of people, Danny Masterson’s rape accusers, and their lawsuit also ran into the Scientology “arbitration” strategy. LA Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield, like Burdge, found that Chrissie Carnell-Bixler, her husband Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and two women going by the names Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 had no right to sue since they had signed contracts as Scientologists. But in their case the California Supreme Court did step in to grant review, and that case is now on appeal.

This is the “other lawsuit” that Valerie is referring to.

And in that lawsuit, last week we reported that the appeals court had asked both sides to weigh in on whether Scientology’s religious arbitration could be considered “neutral” under the law, when the rules of the proceeding require that the three-person arbitrating panel has to be made up of three Scientologists in good standing. (To be clear, we’re talking here about a civil lawsuit alleging harassment of the women for coming forward with their rape allegations. The criminal rape case against Masterson is a separate matter: He’s facing trial in February, and if he’s convicted he’s facing 45 years to life in prison.)

Both sides in the Bixler lawsuit were asked to submit letters no longer than seven pages on the neutrality question, and we have both responses for you this morning.

The letter from the Masterson accusers, written by constitutional scholar Marci Hamilton, lays out how unfair the Scientology proceeding is.

The Church of Scientology is proclaiming that their so-called arbitration is conducted under the rules of a Committee of Evidence, which on their face and delineated in the official Scientology publication Introduction to Scientology Ethics, are nothing like an impartial arbitration that any civil court would be familiar with. The Committee functions as a fact-finding jury consisting of three members of Scientology in good standing, whose finding must be authorized by the International Justice Chief, an employee of the Church of Scientology, as well as a party to the instant matter. Committee members are forbidden from taking the side of Plaintiffs against the Church or they too will be ostracized from and subject to punishment by the Church. Jurisdiction over the Committee, the relevancy of evidence, and the presentation of witnesses are all matters within Scientology’s control.

But Judge Kleifield, she says, decided he couldn’t examine a church’s rules even if they were unfair, and that’s an error the appeals court can correct.

Defendants have repeatedly sought to evade judicial oversight by claiming the First Amendment as a shield to accountability. However, the issue of whether a provision is unconscionable, i.e., that it is inherently one-sided, requires application of federal and state contract laws and does not require the court to resolve a dispute issue of inquiry into religious doctrine.

Meanwhile, in Scientology’s letter, written by attorney William Forman, the church once again scolds the court for thinking it has the right to examine Scientology’s “ecclesiastical” procedures.

The First Amendment prohibits this Court from disturbing the criteria for the selection of arbitrators, as secular notions of due process do not control religious arbitration, and from interfering with or altering a religion’s terms for persons to join the religion.

The Scientology response also relies heavily on the outcome of the Garcia case. The Garcias sued in 2013, were denied trial and forced to arbitration, and federal Judge James Whittemore actually got involved and helped the church choose arbitrators. The Garcias went through the procedure, which they said was a one-sided joke. But Whittemore accepted the results of the arbitration. The Garcias appealed and three years later are still waiting for a result from the Eleventh Circuit, more than a year after oral arguments were held.

Forman argues that Whittemore found the process fair. But Hamilton argues that Whittemore himself said he couldn’t question Scientology’s procedures because of their “religious” nature.

Forman also pretends that it is insulting to assume that Scientologist arbitrators couldn’t be fair, and that it’s premature to assume that they wouldn’t be fair in this case if the arbitration hasn’t been held yet.

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This is certainly getting interesting, and we’re looking forward to oral arguments in this appeal, which have now been moved back to November 2.

But getting back to Valerie and her point about being encouraged about what’s going on in the Bixler case and its appeal, could she benefit from it even after the US Supreme Court denied her petition?

We asked TX Lawyer, who practices in Texas but is an appeals attorney, and he gave us this assessment of Valerie’s situation:

So my understanding is that Valerie’s case now goes all the way back to the trial court, where Valerie should be able to file a motion to stay the arbitration pending the outcome of the Bixler show-cause proceeding. The California Supreme Court order requiring that trial judge to show cause on his order compelling arbitration pretty clearly shows that we’re going to have some case law on the same issue soon. And it would be a waste of everybody’s time and expense to force Valerie to go to an arbitration that the appellate courts may be about to declare to be illegal.

She could also file a motion for reconsideration with the trial court based on the state supreme court’s actions in the Bixler case, but that would probably be premature until Bixler produces some actual case law. If she does move for reconsideration, either before or after the Bixler ruling, and the trial judge denies it, I think she would be well justified in filing for a second writ of mandate after Bixler is (hopefully) decided favorably.

But I suspect she’ll have an uphill battle with the trial court unless and until then, having petitioned for relief all the way to the Supreme Court on the issue and lost at all three levels. Trial judges tend not to want to rethink their decisions after they’ve been upheld on appeal. There’s even a doctrine called “law of the case” that says a litigant is stuck with their own case law from a previous appeal, even if the law itself subsequently changes. That won’t apply to Valerie’s case because she didn’t actually obtain any rulings on the merits from the appellate courts, but it’s a good example of how judges tend to think about things after they have been appealed. So unless she can get a stay pending the Bixler decision, I expect Valerie is headed to “arbitration,” and she can challenge the resulting ruling based on Bixler and everything else after it’s over.

Thank you for that assessment, Tex.

OK, your turn. Here are the documents…

 
The Hamilton letter for the Masterson accusers:

Bixler v Scientology: &#39… by Tony Ortega

 
The Forman letter for Scientology:

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Bixler v. Scientology: Scie… by Tony Ortega

 
We’re looking forward to your thoughts on what’s in the two letters. Let us know!

 
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Leah Remini podcast: Aaron Smith-Levin

Says Mike: “In this episode we talk to our old friend Aaron Smith-Levin about a wide variety of topics, including the status of Goliath the SP dog, but focus on his announcement that he is running to be elected to the Clearwater City Council and the activities of the Aftermath Foundation. Aaron appeared in the original season of The Aftermath, in one of the more memorable episodes.” Listen to the episode right here!

 
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Sign up for a daily email when we post a new story on Scientology.

Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.

 

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Source Code

“The most serious barrier that an auditor has to overcome in Security Checking is not necessarily his own case, but a courage in asking . . to ask the questions. You know, that’s kind of a raw, mean, brassy sort of a thing to do. You sit down. Here’s this nice young girl. Everybody knows she’s a virgin. Everybody knows this. And you’re in very good ARC with her and everything is going to go along fine. And then you say to her, crassly and meanly, ‘Have you ever committed any carnal sins of any character or another? Have you ever been to bed in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man?’ And put it mildly, this is a startling question. But since I’ve started security checking, I haven’t found any virgins.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 5, 1961

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“The LRH Comm Correction Form will be used on any flagrant departures from the standard scene. Not only is it a sign of hat-dump if data is withheld on the grounds that a question is Dev T, it is also a sign of gross hat-dump if the LRH Comm is involved in an excessive amount of running around to get straightforward data. Any action that is Dev T is of course handled as such, and rightly. Getting data is NOT Dev T. Co-ordination requires co-operation.” — LRH Pers Comm, October 5, 1971

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“In another universe gays could be fine individuals but not in this one, the way things are designed and rigged. Two sexless thetans can share sexual sensations, out of body, no doubt, but why do that — read HCOB Pain and Sex. Play any games you like but not in this universe — go find another and leave us alone!”

 
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Past is Prologue

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1995: Larry Wollersheim, defendant against a Scientology lawsuit in Colorado, reported the following incident this week. “Tonight shortly after 6 P.M. one of the private investigators that Scientology had present at the raid of my home came to my door. After recognizing him through the peephole I told him I had nothing to say to him and ordered him to stop pounding on my door and leave. Over the next ten minutes I ordered him to stop pounding on my door and leave repeatedly. I finally told him I was calling the police. He then left. His name was Paul Figlia. I believe his outrageous threatening and relentless door pounding was meant to harass and intimidate me before the upcoming court hearing on Monday. I and FACTNet have repeatedly told Scientology, its lawyers and PI’s over the years that we never want to see them or talk to them about anything, PERIOD. Every time they make these harassment calls we have and will continue to call the police and make out a report for our future legal action against them.”

 
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Random Howdy

“It will take a Snowball of Theta to save the planet from the Hairball of Entheta that is growing bigger in Basement Cat’s belly by the day.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference October 7 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
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: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

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.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

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.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

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

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS, Ep 9: Director Paul Haggis responds to a lawsuit’s rape allegations
[TWO years ago] Fight Scientology, and you can end up paying the price for years and years
[THREE years ago] Buried in US archives, a stunning indictment of Scientology and prediction of the future
[FOUR years ago] Never before seen: Video of a woman moments after achieving superhuman Scientology powers
[FIVE years ago] DRONE FLYOVER: Scientology’s secret saucer-looking underground vault in Northern California
[SIX years ago] VIDEO LEAK: Scientology’s New Year’s Eve 2006, when Leah Remini was still a front-row celeb!
[SEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology wants your child, even if it’s not yet born!
[EIGHT years ago] Claire Headley Gets Us Prepped for Scientology’s OT Levels!
[NINE years ago] Oregon Dentist Ordered to Pay $348,000 After Pressuring an Employee to Attend Scientology Symposium
[TEN years ago] Johnny Depp and Vanity Fair: Confused About Scientology, Or Just Trolling?
[TWELVE years ago] Google and Twitter Slow To Take Down Slanderous Impersonation of a Scientology Critic

 
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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 2,444 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,949 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,469 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,489 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,380 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,687 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,555 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,329 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,659 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,133 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,449 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,015 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,934 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,102 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,683 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,944 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,981 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,695 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,220 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 575 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,750 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,301 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,450 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,770 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,625 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,744 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,100 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,403 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,509 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,907 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,783 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,366 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,861 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,115 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,224 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 5, 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

 

Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast

 

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