Monique Rathbun v. Church of Scientology, et al.

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Re: Monique Rathbun v. David Miscavige, et al.

Post by I'mglib » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:31 pm

Monique's hearing is happening right now at the appeals court, where Scientology is trying to appeal the ruling by Judge Dib Waldrip, that the anit-Slapp motion they made was fail.

Waiting to hear how it went. The decision could be a month away though. ... -the-line/
"A man may build himself a throne of bayonets, but he cannot sit on it." -William Ralph Inge

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Re: Monique Rathbun v. David Miscavige, et al.

Post by i-Betty » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:19 pm

Tony Ortega's update:
UPDATE: We’ve talked to Ray Jeffrey following today’s hearing. An account is following shortly…

We spoke to Monique Rathbun’s attorneys Ray Jeffrey and Marc Wiegand after the hearing, and they both sounded pleased with the work done by Leslie Hyman to present their side.

Each side had 20 minutes to make their arguments. Scientology’s attorney, Thomas Leatherbury, spent his first 15 minutes on an initial presentation, saving five minutes to rebut Hyman at the end.

Leatherbury spent the bulk of his time explaining to the three-judge panel that the Church of Scientology is a legitimate religion, and enjoys tax-exempt status with the US government.

Leatherbury was asked a question from the bench about whether this was a “de novo” approach to the case, or if the appeals panel should accept the facts as established in the trial court by Comal County Judge Dib Waldrip. It appeared that the justices would give some deference to the facts as found by Waldrip.

It was then Leslie Hyman’s turn, and she used her 20 minutes to bore down on a couple of the arguments made by Scientology in its appellate briefs.

She said that Monique’s side does not accept Scientology’s assertion that Monique is a public person for the purposes of the lawsuit. In fact, Monique’s side also does not accept that Marty Rathbun is a public person.

Hyman also focused on Scientology’s argument that Monique had not established that she was the victim of the “infliction of intentional emotional distress” during several years that the church surveilled the couple and protested outside their home.

Hyman stated that in fact, the infliction of intentional emotional distress was so obvious on its face, it qualified as felony stalking — and she read the criminal statute that defines it.

She also questioned Scientology’s argument that it spent years on private investigators and other operatives because it was engaged in a “pre-trial investigation” as it prepared to sue the Rathbuns. The church, she pointed out, had spent several years surveilling the couple, and had never filed a lawsuit. She argued that Scientology should not be able to call that activity free speech simply by characterizing it as “pre-trial investigation.”

With his final five minutes, Leatherbury asserted that Monique Rathbun was a “limited purpose public figure,” and then addressed Hyman’s argument about the pre-trial investigation. He said that watching the Rathbuns wasn’t only to prepare for a possible lawsuit, but also to “investigate the orthodoxy” of what Marty Rathbun was doing.

“The judges seemed interested and receptive to both sides,” Ray Jeffrey told us.

The justices will return a decision in a month or more, and it’s impossible to know what they will do, Jeffrey and Wiegand tell us. But they both added that they were very pleased with the presentation done by Leslie Hyman.
We're still keeping everything crossed for you, Mosey!

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Re: Monique Rathbun v. David Miscavige, et al.

Post by I'mglib » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:22 pm

YAHOO!!!! Scientology appeal denied! Tony Ortega just broke the news!!!!! ... long-wait/

Here's what the appeals court said:
The Scientology Defendants failed to demonstrate, by a “preponderance of the evidence,” that Rathbun’s causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion
of privacy by intrusion on seclusion and by public disclosure of private facts, and tortious interference with contract were “based on, related to, or in response to” the Scientology Defendants’ “exercise of their right of free speech, right to petition, or right of association.” They have therefore failed to establish that the [Texas anti-SLAPP statute] applies to this case. Consequently, we affirm the trial court’s order denying the Scientology Defendants’ motions to dismiss.
Also, legal expert Scott Pilutik's analysis:
It’s sometimes difficult to get a read on where an appeals court really stands on a case, since most appeals involve wordy analysis of explicit, sometimes opaque legal questions, which questions are often a bit afield from the underlying facts. But the Texas Third District gives away the game in footnote 10, citing a recent Texas Tech Law Review article on the virtues of the TCPA entitled “Bullies Beware: Safeguarding Constitutional Rights Through Anti-SLAPP in Texas.” The appeals court remarks that “n light of the Scientology Defendants’ attempted use of the TCPA as a shield to protect the type of conduct alleged in this case, we find the title of that article ironic.”

The irony of Scientology hiding behind a shield meant to bring bullies to heel is a point I and many others made the minute Scientology brought its motion. Because, yeah, ironic bullies indeed.

The opinion otherwise dryly dismantles Scientology’s two arguments: (1) the TCPA was properly invoked because Scientology’s conduct targeting Monique (less generously, their harassment of her) relate to protected speech; and (2) Monique failed to demonstrate a factual basis (by the “preponderance of evidence” standard) for her claims (intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and tortious interference).

Important to the analysis of the latter, the court initially blurs a distinction between the TCPA’s requirement that the claimant (here Monique) demonstrate that factual basis “by a preponderance of evidence” and the summary-judgment standard, by which a plaintiff’s complaint is presumed as true unless negated by additional evidence. Should Scientology appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, this will likely be square one.

The appeals court then accepts as fact—again, for the purpose of construing Monique’s complaint in a light most favorable to her—both Bert Leahy’s and Marty’s affidavits. The court notes that Scientology spent an incongruent degree of energy in recasting Monique’s complaint in terms of how it impacts the their documentary filmmaking ventures than demonstrating how Monique’s claims were necessarily false.

The court: “Other than argue that the “protest and film production” endeavors of the “Squirrel Busters” are protected rights of free speech and thus within the scope of the TCPA, the Scientology Defendants do not directly address the specific conduct Rathbun complains of, which includes following her while she went to and from work, shopping, out to dinner with friends, and walking her dog. Nor do they explain how alleged visits to Rathbun’s family members, friends, and coworkers during which they allegedly gave warnings about Rathbun’s personal safety while married to Marty Rathbun, constitute conduct covered by the TCPA.”

Scientology’s reading of the TCPA would perversely stand its burden-shifting provision on its head by requiring any target of its harassment (well, harassment by “documentary filmmakers” at least) to prove its case against the harasser in advance of trial. The appeals stops short of proclaiming this view to be as perverse as its natural result would suggest, but it does seem to be aware of it.

The appeals court makes two other useful observations. After listing the litany of Scientology’s harassing conduct, it flatly refutes the notion that that conduct was a “communication” “made in connection with a matter of public concern.” To get there, it also finds that Monique is not a “limited-purpose public figure.” Public figures, by defamation and privacy law, have to show invasions of their person by higher standards of evidence. It seems likely that Scientology will appeal on this basis as well. (“But but but… Monique said mean things about Scientology! After we provoked her, sure, but but she said things!”]

Also, this great comment from Chris Shelton:

Chris Shelton (Galactic Patrol • 2 hours ago
What a glorious day to be alive! Having premiered a video here on Tony's site just yesterday on the Truth Rundown, Scientology's ultimate evil when it comes to deep-thought mind control, the subject of Scientology and totalitarian control has been on my mind a lot lately. But not only my mind. With bated breath, we've all been waiting this whole year for forward progress on the Rathbun case, hoping for the best but afraid that we would be crushed by disappointment yet again. The negative decision in Luis Garcia's fraud case in Florida, a massive fail on the part of the legal system, gave us little hope for a positive outcome on this appeal but still we kept our fingers crossed.

Now, with Scientology on the ropes in Europe and having lost tax exemption in the Netherlands, it appears there is finally reason for hope here too. I am practically doing cartwheels here in my living room. The legal arena is a world all its own, with jargon and procedure and rules that are frankly beyond my ability to comprehend. It is not a world where logic, common sense or decency always prevail or are even listened to. Yet when it comes to Scientology, all of their lies and outrageous behavior and flaunting of the law may finally be getting through to even the most stolid judges.

As evil and horrible as the Truth Rundown is, it's effects are not permanent and people can wake up from it and get their lives and thoughts back. The same appears to now be true in the legal system with Scientology. Truth prevails. It may be too much to hope for, but I am hopeful all the same that what we have seen today with this appeal is just a precursor to the coming victory for Monique in Texas, for Laura in California and for all of us in Brussels. What a great day!
"A man may build himself a throne of bayonets, but he cannot sit on it." -William Ralph Inge

Watch the Los Angeles press conference here:

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