Scientology Daily Digest: November 5, 2013

Tony Ortega’s Blog

I’m not a lawyer and the subject of today’s article is sufficiently esoteric that it seems to be tripping even a couple of the lawyers who read Tony’s blog.

Today’s article focused on the response of the Garcia’s legal team to the motion to dismiss on “diversity jurisdiction” grounds that the cult filed recently in the Garcias’ suit in Federal Court in Florida alleging fraud in the Super Power donation campaign.  Almost a year into the case, the cult’s legal team dropped a bombshell, asserting that the case did not belong in Federal court because several of the cult corporate entities are trusts whose trustees are California residents.  The concept of diversity jurisdiction explained by Scott last week is apparently complex and arcane, and the cult appears to have created and sprung a trap that may have some chance of success either in the trial court or on appeal, because the trial court may have to do something that breaks an apparently ironclad procedural rule to keep the cult from profiting by chicanery, risking a messy appeal, or they have to dismiss the case so it is re-filed either in Florida or California.  That could be a problem if re-filed in Florida since the cult has seemed to have done well with Tampa-area judges in the past, such as in attorney Ken Dandar’s being barred from suing Scientology again.

According to Scott Pilutik’s legal analysis, this was a sharp move by the cult because the Court apparent has no choice but to dismiss the case if subject matter jurisdiction is involved.  In other words, good lawyering apparently may not be able to fix the issue.

The response from Ted Babbitt, the Garcias’ lawyer, appears to be alleging fraud: the cult has claimed that the directors are California based, without actually identifying them. In other words, he’s pointing out that the cult is not offering any proof to back up its case, so fraud may be involved.  It sounds like he’s pointing out that the cult’s credibility after the motion to disqualify plaintiff’s counsel might be worth taking into account by the judge in looking at how to remedy this situation.

Key comments:

  • Jeff Hawkins talks about life hiding behind the curtains on lockdown inside buildings at Int Base when protesters were outside the fences.  So much for the most “theta” beings in the Scientology universe to “confront and shatter”” suppression.  And these protests were long before Anonymous cranked up the numbers by a couple orders of magnitude.
  • Semper Phi, who was doing training at Flag in the Anonymous 2008 protests gives her version of being on lockdown.   
  • DamOTclese2 also reminisces from his perspective as a protestor during the same era.
  • Sunny Sands asked Roz Cohn to record her one-woman show about Scientology described in yesterday’s Underground Bunker article and post it; Roz e-mailed her back and said she was planning on it.
  • Jmh details a phishing attack attempting to steal passwords for the people working to take down cult ads on Craigslist.
  • Gerald Plourde raises the interesting notion that the delaying tactic of the motion on diversity jurisdiction may just be a tactic to stall the Garcia suit until Miscavige gets through the big events.  I’m not sure there’s any way to determine whether this is true, but it is very interesting to think about; it will be worth noting if the cult withdraws the jurisdiction motion once the events are complete.  It’ll also be interesting to see what happens if the cult starts to do some sloppy lawyering after laying what appears to be a remarkably clever trap.
  • Nice comment by StillOnYourSide about another theory of a potential path for Babbitt to win the diversity jurisdiction argument for the Garcias.
  • Grundoon did a nice bit of research on the historic neighborhood in LA where Hubbard lived for a time and where early cult facilities were located.

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Brief post only encouraging people to vote for Leah on “Dancing with the Stars” and encouraging them to e-mail Clearwater city officials to encourage them not to grant the cult an exception for the late filing of the street closure permits for the events in two weeks.

Marty Rathbun’s Blog

  • Marty has been on radio silence since October 30.  This is an unusually long period of time for him.  I did not check the comments to see if he is away or something.

“Scientology” on Google News

  • Scientology has purchased a historic building in Buenos Aires for a new Idle Morgue.  The deal, announced Monday, was for US$1.5 million, and restoration is expected to take 12-18 months.
  • OrangySky

    Nice summary. As for the CO$ Buenos Aires building, I’m sure the fundraising for renovations emails are already winging their way through the interwebs…

  • Dog Saluter

    John P this is great. The Cliff Notes of this momentous time in history.
    I’m lovin’ it.

  • Spackle Motion

    Yes, the topic of jurisdiction took up about 6-7 months of my life in CivPro class. SMJ, PJ, Long Arm, Diversity, Supplemental, Federal….and on and on and on, and can be complicated but it is a basic foundation of the US legal system. Imagine writing full essays on a law school exam related to these topics….and CivPro is a year-long class. Did I mention that law school is FUN???

    I’ve stayed away from these discussions because 1) this was a trap and I agree with Ray Jeffery that there is fraud and misrepresentation involved here, 2) the court may just have to buy this and get the case dismissed, and 3) the subject involves many rules that I’ve conveniently blacked out of my brain.

    If anyone wants to read more analysis from Muldrake and Tikk on WWP, here a link where I believe their discussions first started:

    https://whyweprotest.net/community/threads/scientology-sued-for-fraud-its-going-down-like-bird-sh-the-garcia-suit.108358/page-16

    • John P.

      I always thought I would be a good lawyer, but from what you say about life in Civil Procedure, I am sure I would have stabbed my eyes out with an icepick before the first semester of the class was over.

      I bet Miscavige thought he was one clever summbitch when his lawyers came to him and explained that there’s a potential trap that they can set, and just leave out there until they need it, and then spring it. I’m not sure what’s going to happen here, but it’ll be really funny if Babbitt is able to fight his way out of the trap, the cult appeals the decision when they lose, and it gets upheld, so it becomes precedent and then the corporate structure gets another chink in the armor. A chink that they put in place by over-lawyering the case in the first place.

      • Spackle Motion

        You would have made an excellent lawyer, JP, as you would have seen through the bullshit theatrics and grooming that is done in law school.

    • sugarplumfairy

      I am reminded of Lady Catherine de Bourgh discussing the art of playing the piano in Pride and Prejudice.. “Had I had ever learned, I should have been a great proficient.”

      In your case tho, I’m sure you’re right.. Like DogSaluter says, I’m loving (and needing) the cliff notes..

  • Rita Gregory

    Thanks John P. I would have completly missed the comments for Tony O’s site that you posted. You are providing a valuable service, sir.

  • tetloj

    On ESMB:
    In selecting items of interest here I am judging by the types of discussions that receive interest on the Bunker.

    There is always a lot of discussion on people’s views on spirituality and individual members’ stories. I think those who are very interested in those sort of topics would be advised to read ESMB regularly.

    The Leah Remini DWTS thread and Monique Rathbun lawsuit thread are maintaining front page space with frequent comments being added.

    For those who don’t know this is an excellent list of the current legal events http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?33154-Scientology-Narconon-Court-Dates-2013-amp-2014

    http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?33786-Lawsuit-I-Never-Abandoned-Suri serves as a reminder that this issue is now about to be debated and may put disconnection back in the news. No comments here yet; just a link to a TMZ article http://www.tmz.com/2013/11/05/tom-cruise-suri-lawusit-abandoned-life-and-style/ reporting that Tom’s side have ‘just’ filed docs.

    Marty may not have posted for a while but here is a newish thread at ESMB looking at furthering discussion about Marty’s comments about abolishing mental slavery. Another discussion second guessing the ‘real’ intention behind the harrassment lawsuit http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?33770-New-Marty-Revelation.

    There are frequently threads aligned with Tony’s posts but recently no comments that offer really new perspectives than those at the Bunker lately.

    I’ve noticed recently a lot of older threads being revived in the ‘today’s posts’ lists which I imagine is due to the influx of new readers, post Leah’s departure (that seems to be the last event that brought in a tide of new readers to Tony’s as well).

    A new thread was started on Greta Van Susteren which maybe interesting to people who are not aware of some of the background and DC connections of Greta and partner, attorney John Coale http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?33763-What-is-the-story-with-Greta-Van-Susteren.

    And this, just posted by TAJ, http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?33787-Clearwater-voters-approve-new-aquarium-next-to-Flag.

    • SciWatcher

      Thanks for these links. It’s been very interesting to watch Marty’s evolution over the past few years, and I’m curious to see how it continues to unfold. I think that NoName is right. If Marty really is done “trying to avoid besmirching the
      good name of LRH,” he poses a huge danger to DM. Marty knows exactly how Scientology’s legal schemes work. He’s cunning, I think, and he’s much, much more rational and patient than DM. He can see the bigger picture, whereas DM simply reacts and strikes out.

      If Marty has finally realized that he has spent most of his life directing his energy into something that was nothing more than a con by the founder himself…I can only imagine the feelings of rage. And if he channels that rage in a cunning and rational way…well, I wouldn’t want to be wee Davey right now (not that I’d ever want to be him).

      • tetloj

        It is a guilty pleasure isn’t it. On the one hand, interpreting his words at face value, on the other wondering how much is put out there to manouevre/manipulate Miscavige. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall with Mike and Marty talking strategy.

  • Unex Skcus

    Wishing you good luck with the blog. May I suggest breaking up some of your long(ish) paragraphs into shorter ones? IMHO, it makes it easier to read – or speed read, as I tend to do.

  • SciWatcher

    Thanks for starting this blog JohnP. One of my big questions–and maybe you’ve addressed this elsewhere–is what will happen after what seems now like the inevitable demise of Scientology as we know it. One always tends to think that nothing could be worse than the current state of things in an organization or church or country, etc, and thus supports the opposition–for instance the war between the Soviets in Afghanistan and the Mujahideen insurgents. The West was so against the Soviets at the time that multiple countries gave the Mujahideen billions of dollars and lots of weapons to defeat them.

    This is a simplification, of course, and not an exact parallel. But my point is that oftentimes, when one “regime” is ousted, the opposing one moves in to fill the vacuum. And it might be just as bad or worse. Especially where matters of faith are concerned. Do you see that possibility with Scientology? I’m sure there are a few “independents” who would be more than happy to step into DM’s shoes, and while they may have the best of intentions to begin with, the system itself is flawed and can only lead to abuse.

    • John P.

      The key difference between Scientology and the Afghan Mujahideen is that the Afghans had a management bench in case the top guy got killed (they didn’t really have a single top guy, either, but a dozen or two top warlords), and they were relatively effective at recruiting new members into the organization — if Russians killed your mother and little sister in a rocket attack, that might just get you to sign up. Scientology has neither.

      If Miscavige implodes or flees with a ton of the money, there is very little legal authority to replace him. And he has systematically destroyed the bench of management “talent” to replace him, to the point that there is no one with enough mental firepower to pick up the reins. In other words, the internal opposition is so demoralized and ineffective they probably won’t be able to keep the electricity bills paid at Int Base, much less at the orgs.

      The Independents have no legal authority to “take over.” You can’t just climb over the fence at Int Base, storm the headquarters building and crown yourself “king.” If you’re a declared SP, nobody on staff would talk to you, and a declaration order would probably survive Miscavige. No court in the land would support a takeover from someone without legal authority to take over the reins. And given the byzantine corporate structure, it might be very tough for the courts to figure out who that should be.

      • chukicita

        Since Meade Emory died in 2010 it might be even more difficult.

      • SciWatcher

        Ah, yeah, I see what you mean. So do you believe that for all intents and purposes, scientology will “die” with Miscavige?

        • John P.

          I don’t want to give away too much of what I might already be writing in too many articles.

          This is a really big question. What I plan to do is give my best stab at the question, publish a document, and solicit feedback on that. Useful feedback, particularly useful dissenting feedback, would be incorporated into the next version of that scenario document.

          One scenario (I’m not sure this is the right one yet, but it’s an easily understood example) is that when Miscavige leaves, whether that’s in handcuffs or in a coffin, somebody takes over but the cult basically folds in on itself and becomes even more insular but perhaps a bit less evil. One example is the collapse of Aum Shinrikyo, the Tokyo subway nerve gas terrorists. After the sarin attack, those responsible were jailed, but the cult continues to exist, though the government keeps them on a very short leash and their belief structure, name and membership have changed. They’re no longer a notable factor in the Japanese new religious movement scene.

          Another example would be the Rajneesh cult, which blew up badly in the 1980s shortly before its founder was deported. The cult continued for a little while but both guru and organization surfaced under a different identity and with an altered belief structure. They, too, are irrelevant and are apparently neutered as far as harming members or the community at large.

          I don’t track either one closely, so I could be somewhat wrong about the current level of evil manifested by either organization.

          • aurora50

            Who would control the bank accounts? someone at the Bunker stated that the CoS has been running on income for years now and the cash reserves, not counting the real estate, is at the $2B mark.

            Thank you for taking on the task you have here; we will all benefit from the level of discourse you provide!

          • John P.

            The legal authority to control the bank accounts would fall to whoever remains that has authority (I think this is very few people, and some of them may be “wogs”), and the decision authority on what to spend money on would probably rest with Miscavige’s successor.

            It was Mark Headley who said yesterday that they have $2 billion in the bank and they’re living off the interest. My best guess for reserves is around $1.0 to $1.5 billion. The interest rate environment in place the last 10-15 years means they’re probably getting less than 1% on the cash because it’s held offshore; you pay for the privilege of keeping it away from US courts to seize for civil suits. They may actually be getting 0% on it. But they’re almost certainly not getting enough to make it the majority of profits. Most profits still come from operations, though that is probably declining.

            They’re not in the red … yet. That could change in a year or two if the events business implodes. That’s why it’s so critical to try to get useful data from these two events in Florida this year.

  • Dana Knight

    John,

    I hope the Garcia’s attorneys take full advantage of questioning the cult trustees in this case. There are several areas where they (trustees) individually can run afoul of their responsibilities, and be held personally liable. Plenty of low lying fruit to be had.

    For example, I’m sure Babbitt will include in the trustees’ deposition, what if anything, has been discussed in trustees meetings, about the highly publicized abusive behavior of the COB. Was the COB sent to a qualified Anger Management Counselor? If not, why not?

    Or how about Breach of Fiduciary Duty of Care? That is a minefield all of its own. The PRUDENT Trustee would want to reduce the risk by (1) attending all of the meetings of the board and of any committees on which they serve; (2) thoroughly reviewing all interim and annual financial statements and reports and seeking clarification of any irregularities or inconsistencies; (3) investigating and correcting any other irregularities or improprieties; (4) thoroughly reviewing the corporate charter, constitution, and bylaws; (5) dissenting from any board action with which they have any misgivings and insisting that their objection be recorded in the minutes of the meeting; and (6) resigning from the board if and when they are unable to fulfill these duties.

    Well, it doesn’t take a genius to know that the trustees haven’t been doing any of the above. If they had, they would have jumped ship a looooooooong time ago.
    And let’s not forget – the ever favorite quagmire, Violation of Trust Terms, which is essentially what the Garcia case is all about.

    Those trustees are in WAY OVER THEIR HEADs. If they are relying on the church attorneys to protect them, it’s not going to happen. The church attorneys will protect David Miscavige, and throw them under the bus.

    If they are reading this, the church attorneys are not your friends.

    GO OUT AND FIND A GOOD LAWYER FOR YOURSELF- YOU ARE GOING TO NEED IT.

    PS IANAL and this posting is not meant to be legal advice.

    • John P.

      These are potential examples of what we call “unintended consequences.” Some in international relations, particularly in the Middle East, call this “blowback.” As in “blowback is a bitch,” wherein we discovered that all those mujahideen we sponsored to fight the Russians in Afghanistan from 1979-1990 happily took our money but they weren’t really our friends; they learned a lot from us and they didn’t like us enough to become the core of Al Qaeda, which would attack us only a decade later.

      I don’t know to what extent the litigation could veer into waters like you describe, but the potential is always there. When I’ve been involved in legal matters, one of the main things the attorneys do is to try to keep clients from demanding crazy “swing for the fences” legal maneuvers to fight everything tooth and nail. There is always the potential for unintended consequences for pulling crazy stunts like this diversity jurisdiction one. That’s why motions to disqualify counsel are rare: you can’t anticipate and thus you can’t control the blowback.

      Miscavige’s attention span and strategic skills are poor enough that he can’t help “pulling in” blowback from the latest maneuver. He may indeed get a full tent at the IAS event, but the “blowback” in terms of Europeans who won’t make the trip (and give money) any longer will probably cost him far more than he’ll earn with that move.

      • Narapoid

        I am hoping that the Babbitt discovery on this 11th hour (and month) jurisdictional move will reveal a lot more about $cio internal ops and relationships that blows IRS tax-free status.

        In his singular purpose of keeping himself off the stand, he could expose the “church” to terminal litigation. Perhaps a whale or two may notice. The billions in accounts could be frozen, and held away from Little Big Man.

        Then, he may still find himself on the stand, without however, a billion dollar war chest. And, as Observer put it on the Bunker, “smelling of scotch and flop sweat”.

      • Dana Knight

        Excellent analysis John.
        I’m looking forward to reading more in your blog!

  • I.C.N.SP

    Thanks for setting up this great blog John P. Have always enjoyed your analysis (long-time lurker at VV and Bunker).

    Another blog that looks promising for regular updates is http://backincomm.wordpress.com. As pointed out by Mike Rinder a couple of days back.

    Looking forward to lots of regular reading.

  • Noni Mause

    Hi JP, over in South Africa (from the backincomm blog) they’re reporting a couple if key issues:
    1) that two key executives have been removed from post/called to Flag. There seems to be general rejoicing about this and a hope that their replacements might do better.
    2) people are beginning to speculate about the actual numbers of scientologists in the country as opposed to the figures they’ve been told and will be keeping a keen eye on the nos of people turning up to their GAT II event. One commenter noted that event turn outs never seem to get bigger despite the expansion of scientology theyre told about. Another observation was the fact that it was common practice to arrange a ‘rent a crowd’ by luring people in with promises of free food and entertainment. The commenter estimated that 90% of these people had no idea what sort of function they were at.

    Unfortunately the 2011 South African census doesn’t measure religion so I provided them with the closest figures I could get, which was 2011 Australian census data. This showed that only 2263 people identified as scientologists that year, a 13.7% drop from the 2006 census. I’m not sure if they might consider official government stats to be entheta.

    • John P.

      I’m monitoring backincomm now on my RSS feed for the Daily Digest as a result of suggestions from you and several others.

      Does anyone know if those recalled were native SA or whether they were imported from somewhere else?

      A quick look at SA data shows 51.7 million people, with about 5.9 million (11.2%) either white or Asian (usually Indian and others). Let’s assume (sadly) that most blacks/colored are not educated enough to make it into the demographic pool that the cult draws on. You’ll probably get to a total pool of about 8 million people in the demographic to join the cult (urban and reasonably educated and with some degree of disposable income). Cutting up the Australian data, you would expect to see perhaps 600 to 800 total Scientologists in SA, but this could be a little on the high side. Backincomm reported less than 400 at their major event, even allowing for the possibility that some of those were seat-fillers.

      • coonellie

        Friends in Maputo tell me that Scientology is very active in that city. I was surprised. (BTW, all I see when I type is garbage characters, although all the posts are rendering fine. Anyone know why?)

        • John P.

          Maputo… who would have suspected?

          Any ideas why this is the case? And are you able to ask your friends to give a little clearer sense of what they mean when they say “very active”? Do they have lots of people out in the street giving personality tests? Are they advertising in the media? Are lots of people in the org and “on course”?

          Fleshing out these details to the greatest extent possible is really useful. I have been toying with the idea of setting up a Wiki as part of this site as a way to collect anecdotal data points like this about various parts of the cult’s operations.

          The posts showing up in garbage characters is probably a problem with your browser or potentially an operating system bug. Disqus is not polling your keyboard for every keystroke; it only sees what you type when you click “post.” Rebooting your system is perhaps the best shot at fixing the problem.

          • coonellie

            So sorry for the long interval in replying…life interfered in a big way! Also, the characters are showing now (went back to Safari).

            What my friends told me were that they were active in the sense of trying to recruit off the streets.

            I haven’t asked about the personality tests, although my friends stressed that most everything is accomplished (when it can get accomplished) by who you know and familial connections. Foreigners and foreign religions are looked at as an easy source of money. So, I’ll need to ask more as it just makes no logical sense for COS to be there (okay, I know, what is logical about COS?!).

            I’m not sure how long it will take to get more information, but once I learn more I’ll let you know.

        • N. Graham

          You might try changing web browsers, especially if you are using IE. Try Google Chrome or SeaMonkey.

          • coonellie

            Thanks N. Graham. I’m on a Mac and I was using Chrome. That caused the problems. I can no longer login using Firefox and have stopped trying. I’m on Safari now and it works.

      • chukicita

        South Africa has the third highest literacy rate (86.40% for age 15+) among all African countries, as reported in The African Economist in July of this year. This includes people of all shades.

        Pinellas County, FL (which contains Clearwater), according to blackboysreport.org, is among the top ten in the nation in lowest level of black males graduating high school (21%).

        This also reminded me of back when Scn claimed, in a publication frothed out to counter the Time magazine expose in 1991, that they had taught 1.5 million South African children to read. This was exposed as a big honking lie through the efforts of Tony McClelland, who wrote the SA Embassy and other authorities asking for further information. http://www.solitarytrees.net/racism/biglie.htm

        • John P.

          To be clear, my comment estimating the percentage of the black/colored population as candidates for Scientology to be so low was based purely on disposable income. I was aware of the relatively high literacy rate in SA — depending on how you measure reading levels, the actual level of reading competence for the population as a whole could be ahead of the US, despite much lower per capita GDP. (US claims nearly 100% literacy but I think the rate of functional literacy is a bit lower.)

          This relatively high literacy rate suggests that SA could drive very rapid economic growth with appropriate foreign investment, improvement in the electrical infrastructure, etc., far faster than other similar countries. For at least a time, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were termed BRICS (including SA).

          As another, more obvious example, Cuba has a literacy rate equal to or perhaps slightly ahead of the US, despite an absymal economy. If we pretend that the cult were somehow to gain entrance to the country, the Idle Morgue Havana will always be empty because the books cost too much, not because the people can’t read them.

      • i-Betty

        Some suggestions from the Bunker:

      • Noni Mause

        Hi JP, sorry, can’t help with your query. They were long time execs, so very possibly native SA’s.

        Glad you’re including the brand new ‘backincomm’ website on your watchlist. Their rebellion is very significant and it would be good if the site was inclusive of worldwide scn news, not just that from North America.

        Re: the numbers…. they did receive around 1400 at one relatively recent event (over the last few years) is my understanding from the comment section but hard to tell whether this included the ‘rent a crowd’ numbers the commenter mentioned. The commenter was pretty ticked off that these people had been taxi’ed in to eat the food their hard-earned had payed for, especially when they “would never in a thousand years be able to afford Div 6 services, let alone go up the bridge.”

  • FromPolandWithLove

    Here is link to article (with photos) about history of building which was purchased by COS in Buenos Aires. I didn’t know, that Argentina has community of Scientologists. I wonder how big it is.
    http://arquibella.blogspot.com/2010/06/societa-unione-operai-italiani.html

    • Eclipse-girl

      Argentina doesn’t have to have any scientologists to have in Idle Morgue. Sea Org (and I assume they are probably low on staff) can just order a newly married couple to go down to Argentina and start fundraising.

      They did this in the late 1990s or early 2000s with Jenna and Dallas Hill. There were a few scientologists in Australia at the time and that made the transition easier for Jenna and Dallas.

      But SO doesn’t really care about the people. It cares about the money.

  • i-Betty

    An interesting article originally linked by Karen DLC at The Bake.

    Scientology Contracts

    This webpage is a collection of contracts and documents related to the research subject of the Church of Scientology and its contracts, and any contracts related to its subsidiaries, affiliates and front groups.

    http://exposescientology.com/scientologycontracts.html

  • aboutandout

    John I am so glad you have set up your own blog. I am looking forward to the discussion. 🙂