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TEXAS JUDGE ORDERS DEPOSITION OF SCIENTOLOGY LEADER DAVID MISCAVIGE

Ray Jeffrey

Ray Jeffrey

We talked to Ray Jeffrey, attorney for Monique Rathbun, who confirmed that Judge Dib Waldrip has granted Monique’s motion for a continuance in her harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology so she can have the time to depose its leader, David Miscavige.

And although Scientology attorneys asked that it be a written deposition, Jeffrey tells us the judge did not agree to that.

“He has ordered the deposition of Miscavige with no restrictions. It will be a regular deposition like any other,” Jeffrey said.

At the end of today’s session, Scientology attorneys suddenly asked Judge Waldrip for an open-ended stay of proceedings so they could have the time to petition the state appeals court regarding the deposition order. Waldrip instead gave them just one week — until 5 pm on December 20 — to obtain a stay from the Austin appeals court.

“For us, the stay means we’re not supposed to set up the deposition for one week,” Jeffrey said. But it should take considerably longer than that to schedule Miscavige’s testimony.

In fact, Scientology’s attorneys submitted Miscavige’s upcoming schedule through March 31, which apparently showed the “ecclesiastical leader” has a dizzying array of events and tasks to accomplish.

“Judge Waldrip seemed unimpressed with it,” Jeffrey said. “There’s no time that they’re not going to claim that he’s super busy.”

Today’s session was a continuation of a hearing that had begun on Wednesday. At the end of that day, Judge Waldrip was handed huge binders of material — Scientology’s objections to Monique’s supporting documents — but he apparently came into court this morning very prepared.

“It happened very fast. Within 15 minutes, he said he had read about half of the declarations, had read one of the depositions, and said that plaintiffs had a colorable basis in fact for the need to take the deposition of David Miscavige,” Jeffrey said.

Scientology then tried to talk Judge Waldrip out of his decision, Jeffrey said.

The Scientology attorneys began complaining that the decision was a violation of Miscavige’s religious freedom. Jeffrey then pointed out that during the recent scandals with the Catholic Church, bishops and archbishops had given depositions without it violating their religious freedom.

“But not the Pope!” exclaimed Ricardo Cedillo, attorney for Scientology.

“We all laughed at that, and so did the judge,” Jeffrey said.

“The big mistake they made was leveling so many objections, and they actually gave the judge a format, a box for checking every objection sustained or overruled on the documents,” Jeffrey said. That burden forced Waldrip to place very close attention to the many declarations that Monique had submitted. Those declarations, he adds, were intended to be very persuasive.

Also, Jeffrey surprised Scientology’s attorneys by bringing with him a proposed order for deposing not only Miscavige, but also the church leader’s wife, Shelly Miscavige, his personal “communicator” Laurisse, and also Linda Hamel, who runs Scientology’s spy wing, the Office of Special Affairs.

Shelly Miscavige has not been seen in public since late 2005 except for a brief appearance at the funeral of her father in the summer of 2007. It’s believed that she’s being kept out of sight at a small Scientology compound in the mountains above Los Angeles.

“They freaked out over that,” Jeffrey said.

He did not end up submitting that order for Waldrip’s approval, but Jeffrey says he still can do that in the future.

“The main thing is we get the time to do discovery. David Miscvaige is still in this lawsuit, and has to give his deposition.”

Miscavige had argued that he had nothing to do with the harassment campaign that Monique alleges made her life miserable over the past four years. And although one church entity, the Church of Scientology International, has admitted to running that campaign, Miscavige claims that he has nothing to do with CSI and instead only runs a different church entity, the Religious Technology Center (RTC), and should be let out of the lawsuit. Monique argues that he runs all aspects of Scientology, and she should have the ability to depose Miscavige before Judge Waldrip can make a decision about Miscavige’s request to be let out of the suit.

Today, Waldrip agreed.

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on December 13, 2013 at 14:50

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