Biased Journalism Vol. 2, issue 11

Biased Journalism: a net magazine designed to compensate for the shortcomings of the professional news media.

Copyright 1996 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.

Mail, articles and comment may be directed to Netiquette will be observed with all communication, except for the following: harassing or threatening mail will be posted to the net immediately.

Table of Contents for Biased Journalism.

Biased Journalism Volume 2, issue 11 July 10, 1996.


  1. A Hit and Run Medium (Trade secrets hearing in San Jose)
  2. Henson, Ward & Mayo updates
  3. Chumming the Sharks
  4. Rodent Report (a gossip column)
  5. Last Call for CAN
Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!

1. Hit and Run in San Jose: Trade Secrets hearing June 10

It was a bright, windy day as we drove over the familiar route to San Jose. The rounded hills, once bright green, were now covered with long brown grass. From a distance they resembled the soft folds in the face of a bloodhound. The pale blue sky was empty of clouds, as plain as the bottom of a bathtub. Someone was saving Himself a bundle on special effects.

The courthouse plaza was filled with Hispanic men and women in a very long line. The front end of the line went into a building housing the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Apparently these were immigrants or migrant workers, waiting to be processed. A group of INS agents lounged on the benches, watching: except for the letters on their jackets, they looked exactly like the people in line.

We arrived early at the courtroom, but found seven netizens already present, including some famous ars names and faces. Elvis was here. One recounted that he was detained by the guards, who forced him to part with several cans of spam before he was allowed in. The guards had not been briefed on spam as a political statement.

The RTC attorneys and church representatives collected at the far end of the corridor. Helena Kobrin was present, wearing an elegant jacket in ultramarine blue and a black skirt. The famous attorney looked rested and cheerful. Eric Lieberman appeared in a gray suit that looked less upscale than the navy one he had worn to the Henson deposition, but probably cost as much. The suit had just a hint of skink stripe and an artful suggestion of wear. This suit said: 'I'm just a working lawyer, Your Honor, not a rich guy from New York.' Most of the church group wore charcoal gray and evinced a liking for polyester.

Netizens chatted with animation while the RTC contingent looked on in malevolent alarm--except for Lieberman, who watched the netizens with unabashed curiosity.

We checked out the courtroom. A prior case was still in progress. It was a sentencing hearing. At its end a large part of the audience left: Anglo men and women, some with babies, and an unhappy looking pregnant woman. Judge Whyte appeared youthful and mellow.

There were a dozen or more cases on the calendar before RTC v. Dennis Erlich, Netcom et al. Apparently the Judge had been gone the previous week and was having to address the postponed cases. The names were Hispanic. The majority of the cases were sentencing hearings. It was a time consuming and (to us) a very dull process.

The defendants of the moment were two burly young Hispanic males, in red and yellow jail jumpsuits. They stood stolidly at attention, hands shackled behind them, while their lawyers and the prosecutor nattered over bureaucratic details. It was a drug crime, but its nature never surfaced. Finally the defense lawyers and the prosecutor admitted that they were not ready to proceed. The judge ordered them to return at 1:30. Looking at the clock, we deduced that he was cutting his own lunch hour short in order to get his calendar back on track.

The next case is led in. It is another Hispanic male, slightly built and short, probably in his early thirties. In contrast to the previous defendants, this one looks small and scared. He has a public defender. A woman, she is taller than he is. We notice that she never once looks at him during the hearing. His body language radiates confusion, trust, fright.

This too is a sentencing hearing. It is a plea bargain: the accused is to plead guilty to one count; in return the government will not press several other charges. The count is a felony: being a deported alien found to be in the U.S.

Are you prepared to admit this? the judge asks. The defendant answers in the affirmative. His voice is heavily accented and nearly inaudible. Has anyone promised you anything? the judge asks. [mutter] Except the dismissal of the other two charges? [mutter] The judge wants to make sure. Do you understand that there is no guarantee what will happen to you in regard to charge 3? [mutter] The judge proceeds to inquire whether he is on any drugs or medication that could interfere with his judgment. [mutter] Do you understand that you are entitled to a disclosure [of state evidence on this charge]? [mutter] Do you understand that you are entitled to a hearing? That if you admit it there will be no hearing? That if you had a hearing you could cross examine witnesses against you? [mutter]

We try without success to imagine this defendant cross-examining witnesses in a courtroom.

Do you understand that you have the right to be represented by an attorney? the Judge goes on. We have no doubt that at any point in this litany the defendant could speak up, and change his fate. But he does not.

The Judge turns to the prosecutor. What evidence does the government have regarding charge 3? "Documentary evidence," the prosecutor says.

Judge Whyte has exhausted all avenues of escape. Well, how do you plead? Whyte explains the charges. In 1991, you were placed under conditions of supervised release, which included the condition that you not commit any crimes. You pled guilty to a felony, and you pled guilty to violating the conditions of supervised release. The prisoner nods in a confused way. He has done all this before.

[It dawns on the observer that this man is being sentenced for the crime of being convicted of a crime. What is at issue in this hearing is the fact that he broke the conditions of supervised release by pleading guilty to the first crime, which seems to have been, being an illegal alien found in the USA.]

Attention turns to the probation report. The prisoner's public defender reports that the sentencing guideline in 1991 for the [?illegal alien] felony was 12-18 months, but the prisoner was given 30 months, which he has just finished serving. The prisoner thought that his sentence was for both crimes; [it sounds like the San Diego judge thought so too, but the public defender does not open this can of worms. Her job is to process defendants in the most expeditious way possible. She goes on, droning a tale of bureaucratic error.]

"...but the San Diego probation department did not complete the paperwork until after he had served the time, so he lost forever the opportunity to serve time for both crimes at once."

She does not dispute what is on the defendant's record, but she disputes the seriousness of the charges. DUI, drunk driving, driving on a suspended license, a slew of alcohol related offenses, drunk in public, petty theft--misdemeanors--burglary, assault... she drones on and on. "These six pages of additives mostly consist of small counts of alcohol related offenses; the only serious items relate to a domestic quarrel with his common law wife..."

[He's a petty thief with a drinking problem, and a bit of a screwup, the observer realizes. In the observer's home town a good many men fit that description. It was considered to be part of the human condition. No one liked it but everyone coped. By no stretch of the imagination would the people of that town have voted to send 15% of their number off to federal prison. "What for?" they would say if asked. "It won't change anything." And, "prison should be for the real criminals." Looking at the little defendant, we wonder what has happened to our laws.]

The procedure is entirely impersonal. Nothing is said about the defendant to mark him out as an individual. Did he ever father a child or have a dog? Does he love his mother? We are not told. The public defender chooses merely to recite the defendant's record to the judge item by item. She is an accountant of crime, reading off ledger entries in a monotone. Inasmuch as the defendant has already served a year for this crime, because the public defender's office in San Diego failed to consolidate as he had asked, she suggests that the Judge sentence him to only one additional year.

Whyte does not look happy. Thanks to sentencing guidelines, his choices are limited. He too is a worker on the assembly line. The observer, who has come to respect the Judge, decides that she does not want to watch him pass this sentence.

In the corridor, surrounded by cheerful well-dressed people, we feel a surprising flash of sympathy for Judge Whyte. We had never imagined that a Federal judge could have anything in common with the luckless animal shelter employee who is required to kill the unwanted animals.

Netizens and lawyers chat in the corridor. We meet Randy Rice, attorney for Netcom, who gave an impressive argument in the previous hearing. "It's the American dream: to sell out," one netizen says, grinning. Someone else points out Lynn Farny, head of OSA, to us. A newcomer remarks on Helena Kobrin's dour expression, and is promptly informed that she always looks like that.

The church attorneys have brought two cardboard banker's boxes and a large black notebook, stacked on a dolly.

Keith Henson has a large manila envelope containing some apocryphal NOTS. He tries to give it to Eric Lieberman, who refuses, recoiling in alarm. "If he had accepted it he would have had to read it," Henson says, grinning.

Several representatives of Morrison and Foerster (the San Francisco firm known as "the mighty MOFO") are present. Their client, Dennis Erlich, is cheerful and at ease. Knots of netizens discuss the net, trade secrets, body thetans and other bits of scientology lore.

A break is declared. Having spent his morning sending Hispanic men to jail, the Judge is now ready to deal with RTC v. Erlich, Netcom et al. Netizens file into the room and occupy the left side of the public seating. A few spill over into the right hand side. The church attorneys take possession of the left hand table, in front of the netizens; Erlich and MOFO set up on the right hand table. Carla Oakley has come from MOFO with two assistants. Oakley, wearing an impeccably tailored navy blue suit, is petite, blonde, and businesslike. She pays no attention to the opposing counsel table.

The RTC persons at the table consist of Helena Kobrin, Roger Milgrim and Tom Hogan (wearing the same gray suit, but with a flowered tie in blues and purple). Helpers set up a large easel for the exhibits, which are stacked against the jury box. The easel is placed so Judge Whyte can see it but the audience cannot. [We are disappointed, and hope that the church will remedy this oversight in the future.] Several big, black notebooks are on the table.

The lawyers go through a little ceremony not unlike a major orchestra tuning up.

Most of the right hand public seating is occupied by church lawyers, representatives, and presumed OSA personnel. The left side is taken up by net citizens and supporters of Erlich, Ward and Henson.

We say hello to Dan Leipold and Paul Szumiak, who have come to defend Tom Klemesrud.

The lawyers are barely arranged when Judge Whyte appears. He states that he wants to consider motions first. He thinks it will be helpful to explain a few of his thoughts with reference to how motions are presented. After a polite bit of introduction, he gets to the meat: "I don't feel that declarations from a variety of attorneys on what constitutes a trade secret are anything other than attempts to do additional briefing." Declarations from attorneys are not generally regarded as evidence, Whyte remarks dryly. He has not read the supplementary brief filed by RTC which contains statements by experts on trade secrets and copyright issues.

That being said [he went on] there is an issue that troubles me. If you assume, merely for possibilities of argument, that RTC has trade secrets--whether or not that is finally determined to be the situation--which can be lost by posting on the internet, assuming that the person who sees it has nothing to do with either illegally posting it, it troubles me from a fairness standpoint. That someone could lose a trade secret by [someone] posting it to the internet and/or causing it to be posted to the internet.

Suppose a disgruntled employee of Intel posted "this is the way you do something."

On the other hand, once something is no longer secret, how does it keep a trade secret status? The Judge says that he may ask both sides for an additional briefing on this question.

The other thing is to make sure that there is agreement on what is in exhibit B1 that is not in exhibit B. [An obscure discussion follows, in which we recognize "Sunshine Rundown" and "OTIII materials."]

With respect to expanding the injunction, the Judge says quietly, "I think that has been fairly well briefed with respect to copyright issues. Mr. Erlich isn't making an issue of the copyright status with respect to this injunction. I am interested in this issue." He tells the lawyers they can go till noon. Tom Hogan, as the moving party, can start. Hogan is assigned 15 minutes. Hogan quickly defers to Roger Milgrim, the preeminent expert in trade secret law.

Carla Oakley quickly objects. Milgrim is appearing both as an attorney and a witness. "I've stricken his declaration," Judge Whyte replies.

Milgrim has a small goatee, executive style gold-rimmed glasses, and a suit of that odd color that is best described as a greenish stone gray. His manner is oily and a shade patronizing: we are reminded that he has given lectures and addressed conferences, and is accustomed to being the last word on trade secrets. "There is one premise that I would like to question in your [it comes out, "Your"] analysis, and that is with regard to the consequence of posting itself. It may be different than publication."

[Disbelieving snorts from the netizens.]

The helpers nimbly arrange the first exhibit on the easel. The church paid for surveys of Internet users, at 1000 people per survey. 20% had some knowledge of scientology. However, there is [Milgrim said] no indication at all that the information which was posted is generally known.

The survey is snatched off the easel and replaced with a copy of the California Uniform Trade Secret Act. "What I would like to focus on is the definition of trade secrets in your [Your] December opinion," Milgrim says. He quotes from the original statute from which the California statue was adopted: "a trade secret derives value from not being generally known to the public, or readily obtainable." "In the statute as adopted in California, 'or readily obtainable' was left out. So the statutory test is, being generally known."

Another exhibit is whipped out and set on the easel. Apparently it is a display of anonymous posts [of church material] alternating with posts by Dennis Erlich. "No one posted [church literature] until Dennis Erlich posted [literature with commentary]. There was no anonymous posting until after Dennis Erlich got the cease and desist letter. Then there is a curious echo [anonymous posting], and a day or two after that Dennis Erlich posted." He is trying to say that Dennis Erlich is the anonymous poster.

[The observer tried to figure out this exhibit. Obviously, Erlich will have posted either before or after the anonymous poster posted--or, gods forbid, on the same day. That is true of Erlich and anyone. This is proof? Milgrim went right on.]

Next, Milgrim wanted to express his concerns about the briefing. [This is the material Judge Whyte had identified earlier as additional briefing, and refused to read.] He wants to offer the December briefing with the supplementary briefing. Milgrim claims it is totally factual.

Judge Whyte was visibly in the grip of his student engrams. He could not say no to Milgrim, the archetypal professor. "I have to hold everyone to the rules," Whyte said unhappily. He agreed to allow Milgrim to talk about it.

[Hypnotized, the Judge was oblivious to the rage from the defense table. A shock wave of legal entheta rolled across the room like the ghost of "Twister." We suspected the petite and charming Carla Oakley of possessing secret OT powers.]

Milgrim, having neatly circumvented both the 15 minute limit and the Judge's opening remarks, begins by saying that "advanced technology" [exhibit B1] is a much broader term than used before. He is going to argue about the wording of the injunction.

First he returns to the statute. The surveys show that there is no evidence at all that this [scientology information] is generally known.

The argument about Erlich and the anonymous posts is quickly reviewed. Milgrim shows the judge a post: someone asking for a copy of the files. Erlich's reply: give me a couple of weeks till this [legal problem] is over and then I'll post it again.

"And one of the distinctions between the net and general publication is that the net is ephemeral.." Milgrim informs Whyte. [Choked laughter arises from the ars part of the audience.] Milgrim claims that posts disappear very quickly, in fact, almost instantly; therefore (he says) they are not "readily ascertainable" to the public. "The net is a hit and run medium."

The smothered commentary from the public seats must be audible to the Judge, but he does nothing about it. His attention is fixed on Milgrim.

In lecture mode, Milgrim explains that publications--trade journals, science reviews--have a process. They have an editor. They have a process that requires that the works to be printed are not copyrighted. The net, he implies, is an *entirely different* situation. There is no control over what people post on the net; smoothly he works in the anonymous posts: "because we know that followers of Dennis Erlich..." post the materials. "And it's [the infamous net] also instructive about equities" (an expressed concern of Judge Whyte).

Milgrim pauses for an instant to gauge his effect and to give the judge time to appreciate the net as an evil sinkhole where equities cry for help in vain.

He goes on to attack the defense claim that the materials posted were legally obtained. "The claim is false." Robin Scott and Ron Lawley walked into an org in Denmark in fake Sea Org uniforms, and so cowed everyone that they gave them the NOTS. The posted NOTS are stolen material, Milgrim says. Furthermore, Dennis Erlich knows of the improper origins of the material; "and he was the first poster and then we had the series of convenient anonymous postings."

Milgrim has been waving a sheaf of papers, purportedly the Erlich and anonymous posts. Carla Oakley interrupts to request a copy of the printout. Judge Whyte says he would like one too.

"The time sequence here is quite revelatory," Milgrim intones. On August 22, the cease and desist letter. On August 23, the Class 8 tape posted. On August 25, RTC lawyers send a letter to Erlich. Etc. Etc. [The observer tries to understand what this sequence proves about Erlich, anonymous posts, or anything else. We conclude that this passage is intended to look like an argument, but not really to be one. It's a place holder.]

"There is a serious question going to the merit," Milgrim declares earnestly. Now that we are looking for it, we notice that he never quite says what the serious question is.

Erlich has filed a couple of declarations regarding the status of the materials. Let us consider a snapshot in time, focused on the Fishman Declaration, which is a very small part of the OT materials.

A new exhibit is put up on the easel. McShane hands out copies to the defense attorneys and the Judge.

"There are many things in Fishman that were not in Dennis Erlich's post," Milgrim contends. The correspondence is not very great. And as to public knowledge, remember that we had inquiry by interested parties who could not find them. [Well, one interested party, actually. We understand him to refer to the post cited earlier.]

The harm done by revealing these scriptures is direct and immediate, Milgrim says. The person posting either had signed an agreement or knew that the materials were stolen. Now can the internet be coupled with a crime, to deprive ...notorious theft...There are no equities for the original thieves, or [for] the people who have read them [the scriptures] and must know that they are stolen... Posters to the internet enjoy "the opportunity to broadside" [the innocent equity holder]. He details the evils of anonymous posting.

"Is the internet in fact like a more traditional publication?" When the only evidence is that survey, and the information [the post, again] shows that the party can't find it?

"This is not argument," Milgrim urges in an oily coda. "I just wanted to provide Your Honor with what we think the serious questions are."

Carla Oakley of MOFO now has her turn. She is a good speaker, with a clear, carrying voice. The picture of "wholesale espionage" and trade secrets published on the internet is not the case. Plaintiffs claim to be seeking injunctive relief, but they are really attempting to silence a critic. The situation is not at all like Intel [the Judge's example at the beginning].

Judge Whyte interrupts. There is a fundamental question raised in this case. "How do you lose a trade secret?" He wants to start with Intel and work back.

"Certainly," Carla Oakley says crisply. If it is posted to the internet, a trade secret will be lost. This was not just done by Dennis Erlich; there have been multiple other postings. NOTS was posted in the last month. As for internet postings, "they really are not ephemeral." A potential competitor would have had the opportunity to download and keep the material, so it does not matter whether the posts stay on the net for a long time.

Whyte: if someone posted material and stated "this is a trade secret and I stole it," would it [trade secret status] be lost?

Oakley: you would have to ascertain how long it was posted, what efforts were made to keep it secret, whether there was a reasonable belief that it was stolen... Oakley references testimony in the Fishman matter concerning lost copies, etc. Here, RTC allowed the material out of the org and into the hands of an unknown number of people--not like Intel.

The Intel name has now come up a third time, and it makes the Judge nervous. "I hope they aren't listening, Whyte says anxiously.

Oakley: [enjoying the joke] I don't think we represent them. Well, the [scientology] materials were out there for years.

Whyte: does anonymous posting suggest doubt with reference to provenance?

Oakley: No, I do not think so. Given the perceived consequences of being identified. Dennis Erlich did not post anonymously.

Whyte says that one should not look at his opinion as prohibiting ridicule, saying something is a fraud, etc. [It matters] whether the material is presented with any comment.

Oakley responds that MOFO has presented more context of the posting, and explanations from Dennis Erlich as to why he used verbatim text. Scientology requires the use of exact words in a critique. With reference to the internet, materials have been available on the net. The place to deal with the problem is in the legislature, not in this case.

To get back to Roger Milgrim's points [she says], he has suggested the standard of "information generally known." The real standard is 'generally known to the public _or_ available to competitors.' As your Honor noted in the order, competitors would know that information was available on ars.

The fact that the average person doesn't know is irrelevant. The appropriate population is potential competitors.

Also, the trade secrets test is not a memory test. She herself has read the materials, but probably couldn't pass a test on it. But she could use them to set up a competing business if she wanted to.

There is no evidence that ties Dennis Erlich to anonymous posting, or to the posting of the Fishman declaration, or the posting of the NOTS.

There is also no clear definition of trade secrets. Trade secrets have been equated to sequences of commands or instructions. However, the plaintiffs could not identify the trade secrets in the Class 8 assist tape. Several of the NOTS do not have these sequences. "We do not know where the alleged trade secrets begin and end," Oakley declared.

Furthermore, these secrets are not secret. Oakley quickly runs through other court findings, noting that Judge Brinkema concluded that the materials were not secret. Exhibits B1 and B, dealing with OT I-III, overlap. And subsequent to the Brinkema ruling NOTS were posted. The trade secrets were posted to the internet, were in an open court file for 28 months as the testimony of an ex-scientologist.

Dennis Erlich first came upon most of the materials on the net. When RTC searched his house it didn't find much. And as far as confidentiality agreements go, where is the record [that Erlich signed one]? In the documents submitted by the plaintiff, some are not signed and some pages did not go together. There is also the matter of duress. We question their validity.

Oakley moves on to the seizure. Plaintiffs are using the products of a vacated seizure. The conduct of the seizure-

Judge Whyte interrupts. "Well, it was a court order, " he says defensively. "Wouldn't Dennis Erlich have been required to produce it in any case?"

Carla Oakley: "But they were not learned in that way." She protests the irregularity of the seizure. He [Erlich] certainly could be asked to produce information in discovery. But we are discussing possible as opposed to actual use here. This is not a basis for expanding the injunction.

The Judge wants to cut her off. "Well, it would have been found anyway."

Oakley: Dennis Erlich has refrained from posting for many months. There is no risk of future postings from him. He never was a big poster. If a ruling is made that he violated copyrights, the proper ruling would be damages, not an injunction.

[There is a rattle of papers in the courtroom as all the lawyers write frantically.]

Judge Whyte announces that he will allow a short brief on whether posting is the same as publication and the effect of the status of a person who causes a posting on the status of the person who sees it; and, what standard to use: general knowledge, vs. [availability of trade secret information to] potential competition. He reminds the laywers that he is not saying these are depository issues. The brief is requested by the end of next week.

Carla Oakley wants to go on, apparently wanting to discuss more facts about the seizure, but the judge wants to move on. The next item appears to be a case management conference. Dan Leipold and Randy Rice get up to speak for Tom Klemesrud and Netcom, respectively. Tom Hogan and Helena Kobrin stand up for RTC. Rice tells Whyte that there has been discussion with the plaintiffs but they haven't agreed. He runs quickly through a series of dates: trial, July 14, 1997. pretrial, June 16, 1997. Cutoff for filing dispositive motions, March 24, 1997. Hearing, May 1, 1997. Supplemental expert declarations cutoff, February 21, 1997. Recipient discovery cutoff, June 31, 1997.

Judge Whyte wants to know if these dates are agreeable to all parties. The plaintiffs agree to the dates, Helena Kobrin says. Carla Oakley has reservations. If Dennis Erlich is facing multiple orders, or if the order is broadened, we'd want an accelerated pace to get to trial on the merits quickly.

Now, can't you agree on what's for the court and what's for the jury? Whether all issues should go to jury trial, or only some? [Fweet! Fweet! Our bullshit meter unaccountably malfunctioned at this point.] Looking down at the assembled lawyers, Whyte adopted his most reasonable expression. Injunctive issues should be tried by the court, and damage issues can be tried subsequently, he said.

The body language of Hogan and Kobrin said, we wish. The body language of the defense lawyers said, no way. In the brief cone of silence, Carla Oakley remarks that she is troubled by the way in which Dennis Erlich's cross complaint would be handled.

Randy Rice, speaking for Netcom, explains his philosophy about schedules. His schedule assumes that motion practice will be successful. Motions can obviate the need for a trial.

Whyte: but the motion [cutoff] date is close to trial.

Rice: we thought so too, but didn't want to be seen as dragging it out.

Whyte: [glumly confessing his woes] the press interest, the amounts of faxes--the interest in this case is as great or more than any other case I've had. [He can see the picket signs in his nightmares already, the observer intuits.]

One of the lawyers suggests that some of the issues can be submitted to Magistrate Judge Infante. Randolph Rice speaks up to request Judge Infante's supervision over the protective order issues. Dan Leipold concurs.

Whyte: that's already done. If you have a problem I'm surprised you haven't already done it.

Randolph Rice [sweetly]: with regard to bifurcating between court and jury trial rights, Netcom is very interested in its jury trial rights. There will be argument on this.

Whyte: What does Netcom or Klemesrud feel is a jury issue?

Rice: for example, referring to Your Honor's ruling in November on contributory liability, the question of whether we acted _reasonably_ when put on notice. What we were put on notice of-

Whyte: don't you think you can resolve that by motion?

Rice: [with a trace of surprise] no.

Leipold: we may prevail before the trial commences.

Rice: we might move for a Summary Judgment on the basis that there is no evidence--for instance, of market injury. After discovery we might come back and ask for a Summary Judgment on the basis that there is no evidence.

Whyte: when will you know? Looking at the RTC attorneys, he says: The plaintiffs want it resolved in court.

Helena Kobrin: we want an injunction and statutory damages. [e.g. RTC does not want a jury trial]

Carla Oakley: there is a right to jury trial in a fair use defense. We may, depending upon discovery, be able to peel the trade secret issue off before trial. Given that the acts are all interrelated.

Whyte: You have got an uphill battle to convince me that your counterclaim should be tried in the same proceeding. [He wants to do it after the RTC suit, which is disadvantageous to Erlich.] The Judge instructs all the lawyers to give him opinions on what can be tried in court and what should be tried by jury.

[Everyone gets very tense. The air thickens around the laywers.]

Whyte: the next case management conference will be on July 12. Meet and confer and give me a statement of what you agree and disagree on. Have a joint statement on file July 3. If we have to go to July 1997 we will, but I would sure like to get this case resolved.

The Judge moves on to discovery. Everyone chimes in:
Rice: Netcom has sent Plaintiff a set of written requests for the production of documents. We must agree with Plaintiff on a protective order. 30 days.

Oakley: we haven't done discovery, but will serve written discovery in the next week- interrogatories, identification of trade secrets, etc.

Kobrin: written discovery and notices of depositions [will be forthcoming]

Whyte: with regard to the conference July 12, I want a discovery plan. Between now and then the parties could submit one set of RFD documents [Request for the Production of Documents].

"We want identification of trade secrets. But that can wait until after the conference," Carla Oakley says firmly.

Judge Whyte: [almost absentmindedly] "No, that's too important to put off." Summing up, he says: July 12, joint discovery plan. Judge Infante: refer protective order questions to him.

Carla Oakley: we have a motion for contempt by Dennis Erlich against RTC. On Friday there was one more delivery of items from plaintiffs. We may have to ask the court for an evidentiary hearing. [In the box of raid booty recently handed to MOFO were several items which the plaintiffs had denied taking.]

Whyte: [harassed] We will have a hearing. One party said one thing, one said another...this will have to be resolved in a hearing.

Roger Milgrim [sounding oily]: equitability. the issue of silencing a critic is not an issue in this case. The Colorado judge conceded that the issue [statutory standard for trade secrets] was "generally known". "It's most likely" that secrecy will be lost [if a trade secret is posted] is a fact question, not an issue of law. Now, the echo postings list is not drawn from the record. [When Milgrim produced it in court, Oakley and the Judge both asked for copies.]

Judge Whyte: She [Oakley] wasn't quarreling with your timetable. She was addressing the question of Dennis Erlich and the anonymous posting.

Carla Oakley: The posts by Dennis Erlich have never been put in the record.

Milgrim: [suppressively] They are in the record. He goes right on: Mr. McShane's declaration described a number of the components of the trade secrets, but Carla Oakley merely said he hadn't described NOTS. We did not know that they [MOFO] were contesting the definitions in this hearing. And I want to rectify an impression. The Brinkema decision focused upon the fact of a court filing. The nominal status of the file was dispositive. This disagrees with the 10th Circuit Court. The court record was sealed retroactively. Milgrim mentions McShane again: regarding the new posting [of the NOTS], they were found and gotten off the net within no more than 3 days.

[He's admitting to the cancellations? the observer thinks, stunned. Knowlegeable giggles erupt from the ars spectators. NOTS are a part of net lore. The claim that the church has erased them from the net is absurd.]

Judge Whyte: if I consider evidence from a survey, I will give you notice before I take any action.

And this is it. Everyone gets up. Whyte leaves the bench so quickly that we wonder if he teleported. The netizens file outside, eventually winding up downstairs in front of the building. Everyone talks to everyone; even Lieberman and Milgrim put in an appearance. A Suppressive Persons Group Photo is taken. -It almost includes the Judge, who pops out of the revolving door and hurries off to lunch. He is a tall man with a runner's lanky build and graceful stride. As he walks, passing the patient Hispanics in their long line, he rubs the back of his neck. He has had a difficult morning.

The observer strolled over to Carla Oakley, in a crowd of admirers. The attorney is taking their questions and listening to their advice with good humor. The observer notes that Ms. Oakley does not look at all tired. It is a long audience; the netizens prize the opportunity to speak to the attorney directly, and everyone has a pet theory, point of strategy, or simply wants to say 'thank you for defending Dennis Erlich and the net.'

We decided to go to lunch with Erlich and other ars notables. As luck would have it the Judge returned just as the group moved out. He gave us a haunted look.

2. And then there were two... Mayo, Henson and Ward case updates


David Mayo has settled his case. The settlement is sealed, and presumably includes a gag order.


Keith Henson was sued by RTC for publishing NOTS 34, an apparent series of instructions for the use of an e-meter in curing physical ailments. Henson countersued for $500,000,000. He was deposed [Biased Journalism V2no10] by Eric Lieberman, for RTC. RTC obtained a preliminary injunction against Henson, claiming that Henson intended to publish all of the NOTS. Henson requested permission to provide NOTS 34 to the FDA as evidence of an unlawful act, to wit, the practice of medicine without a license.

The collision between Henson, netizen and humorist, and the highly paranoid church of scientology is fascinating to observers.

In a recent development, which can only now be disclosed, Henson offered the church a chance to disengage. He sent Lieberman a letter offering to drop his countersuit if the church would pay $5000 for his time and expenses.

Observers of the legal process will realize that it certainly cost the church more than $5000 to read Henson's letter and come to a decision. They refused Henson's offer. He now looks forward to a jury trial.

The next court appearance in Henson's case is August 2, 1996 in San Jose before Judge Whyte.


The first deposition of Grady Ward was not a notable success for the plaintiff. Ward fired off a complaint to the judge about the conduct of Tom Hogan, attorney for the plaintiff. In a stinging rebuff to the plaintiff's request for expedited discovery, he filed his own request for accelerated discovery against RTC. It said in part:

"In the plaintiff's application for expedited discovery the plaintiff alleged that the defendant will "seek to conceal the infringing materials and destroy any evidence" while "there is no conceivable injury Ward will face by the grant of expedited discovery."

"The first allegation is false. I have denied all material allegations in the plaintiff's complaint, have answered the plaintiff's Request for production of documents and things, and have completed my deposition. Further I have publicly and repeatedly asserted during the past year on the public internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology that I specifically do not store or maintain documents or notes relating to scientology or works allegedly authored by L. Ron Hubbard. Nor in my life have I ever been sued or charged in any civil or criminal proceeding.

"Moreover, the plaintiff has not produced a single particle of admissible evidence that I would even consider obstructing justice even if any of their allegations were accurate. In fact I believe that Judge Whyte erred in granting a preliminary injunction and order for expedited discovery since he was not presented any admissible evidence of the defendant's alleged infringement or trade secret violation, other than in the plaintiff's own pleading to base his finding of plaintiff's "fair chance of prevailing" at a future trial.

As far as the second allegation that I would not suffer any "conceivable" injury through the granting of expedited discovery, this too is false. The plaintiff now is using the unequal discovery schedules to hinder the defendant's own discovery into matters of torts committed by the plaintiff which stem from multiple criminal acts by the plaintiff or those acting in concert or participation with the plaintiff. These acts include trespass, theft, and forgery of Usenet posts as described in my verified Answer and Counterclaims."

Ward followed this up with his own demand for far-reaching discovery against RTC. RTC attorneys considered the situation, and then demanded redoubled discovery against Ward. They received it, and Ward was deposed a second time. The audio files of the deposition are at

NOTS were anonymously posted before the second deposition. The church did not ask specifically about Vorlon (poster of NOTS), although they inquired into the etymology of "the 'ho of babble-on," the nickname Ward coined for attorney Helena Kobrin. Alas for church strategy, Ward did not get the idea from Babylon 5 [a television show featuring a Vorlon]. Instead Ward was inspired by L. Ron Hubbard's sex magic in the 1930's. Hubbard was a follower of Aleister Crowley, also known as The Great Beast 666. (Crowley wrote reams about the Whore of Babylon.)

Apparently by mistake, the plaintiff's attorneys introduced a post by Vera Wallace into evidence, confirming her connection with the church of scientology and opening up potential avenues of discovery for Grady Ward.

After his second deposition, Ward announced his intent to convert his $50,000,000 countersuit against RTC into a civil RICO suit. Immediately after this RTC summoned Ward to a settlement conference. No settlement was reached. The details of the talks are confidential, but Ward let it be known afterward that he was displeased with the behavior of the other side.

3. Chumming the Sharks: Ward blows off steam on irc

[Note: we engaged in liberal reformatting to make the exchange readable without disclosing the names of the participants. Ward gave us permission to print his remarks.]

Grady Ward, Copyright Terrorist and Foe of the Internet, was deposed for a second time on Thursday, June 27.

[For readers who do not know Ward, we offer the following sketch: Grady is big-boned, rotund, with a cherubic smile and deceptively sharp eyes behind thick lenses. In manner he is polite and soft-spoken. During the Henson deposition [Biased Journalism Vol2 no10] we stole a glance at Ward from time to time. Grady watched the inquisition with precisely the same cheerful absorption that he might give to a feature length Disney cartoon. At the high points he smiled a little Mona Lisa smile. A software designer of high repute, Ward is in his element as a thinker.

Despite the angry reaction of the church to his abusive and funny posts, Ward was surprised to be sued. It occurred to him that he was now involved in a legal process, and there were manuals for this. He bought $400 worth of law books and read them. Grady Ward, netizen, was now prepared to engage the church on its chosen field of battle.]

A few days before the 27th Ward dropped into #scientology to express annoyance with the way the church was conducting discovery. After the first deposition it was agreed that the church would be allowed to search Grady's backup disks for a specified set of key words. The technician was to be supervised at all times by a Special Master. The church was not to be allowed to rummage freely through Ward's disks, as it had done with Lerma's. When a "hit" is found, Grady is allowed to examine the file(s) and file an objection to disclosure if he so chooses.

Things did not go quite as planned. Grady complained to net.citizens on irc, "..the only news is that I am pissed off with the Special Master...she is being bullied by the 'ho into making faster and faster turnaround demands on me for so-called "hits" of key words on my disks.

<Grady> For example, here is the pathname hit list for one of my mac disks:

Compressed filesDisk 1 hits.11-1110000-100061001.60-1001.
 hierarchies.part1anon_ftp_listappendicesARRL_IndexArt Class

<Grady> So now I have one hour to review all the files that those paths point to and make a claim of privilege. But if I cannot get through and don't have enough time, then the default is to give everything to the 'ho. ["The 'ho," short for "the 'ho of babble- on," is the cyberspace nickname of Helena Kobrin, church attorney.]

[exclamations of sympathy and outrage from netizens]

<Grady> In our stipulation we gave me at least 7 hours to review the material for privilege. AND I don't want the entire friggin file handed over to the 'ho just because the word "bulletin" is in it!

<netizen> grady: just refuse to hand it over without sufficient time, make them argue it before the judge <Grady> all I need to do is demand that our stipulation is adhered to. Why do attorneys take court order and local rules so cavalierly? Hogan [Tom Hogan, RTC attorney] does it because he can get away with it -- did you know he was on the panel that selected Judge Infante???

<Grady> I only want to claim privilege on anything colorably so. But there is also the problem with trade secret and simple irrelevant material... the federal rules of discovery are liberal but still the material has to have a colorable chance of leading to admissible evidence.

<Grady> The 'ho was looking over the tech's shoulder's too before I got a chance to claim privilege or not. Grrrr.

<netizen> i thought a SM was supposed to be independant and impartial

<Grady> [referring to the deposition] currently June 27 in Eureka... they are going to drop another $20 grand to do so, but it is NOT going to happen UNLESS I get my meet and confer with Hogan first as the Local Rules demand. He HAS to give me an initial disclosure schedule for my counterclaims and for their claims. In other words I get to see first hand how much bs their case is.

<netizen> sleazy creeps, no doubt about it.

<Grady> [re. the Special Master being impartial] Well she is, sorta. But she is being paid by the plaintiff and goes to parties with Hogan and the Judge -- you get the picture. I am just an outsider, not an attorney (thank god) and not one of the system. She may be fair but the 'ho is bullying her.

<Grady> My next court appearance will be mid July for the Whyte hearing to decide whether I can amend my counterclaims.

<Grady> Well if I just say you are not going to depose me until I get the meet and confer in person as REQUIRED by the local rules, then his co-counsels may pressure him. <Grady> I have still to file for a motion demanding money sanctions under`Rule 11 of the FRCivP for his lying to Judge Infante in my first deposition.

<Grady> Meanwhile the Special Master and techs will find NOTHING on my disks. [He speculates unsympathetically on how much this could cost the plaintiff.

<Grady> Hogan is $275/hour. plus court appearances, $3 a fax page, etc. the New Yorkers have got to be at least $500/hour. [Legal scuttlebutt relayed to BJ has Lieberman at $550 per hour and Milgrim at $500.]

<netizen> hogan's cheap...

<Grady> The technicians are so jubilant when they get a hit....

<Net> [quoting scientology scripture] Find a key word

<Grady> but then guess how many time the sequence of letters GPM is hit in a 10 meg binary?? LOTS

<Grady> I told them they need to look at every jpg etc to make sure it is not an image of forbidden scriptures :-)

<Grady> 20,000 files to carefully examine, whew

[netizens chat briefly about GPM]

<Grady> GPM - goals problem mass a cult term

<Grady> And I told them they need to build every executable to make sure the objects are just steganography...:-)

[ed.-steganography is disguised encryption. Ward, who had to spell "fidonet" for the attorneys in his first deposition, was having some fun.]

<Grady> I will have to tell them about the cluster server on Thursday and "Vorlon" script... :-)

<net> Grady: oh no! Don't tell them about the NOTs cluster server!

<Grady> I'm sorry Dave. I'll be under oath!!!! :_)

<net> Grady: it's okay. I've been telling everyone it's a troll in order to protect Bert and Ernie. CoS believes it's a troll now.

<Grady> However I will be referring to the criminal cult AS the criminal cult throughout. That pegs a ho button.

<net> then don't tell them about the secret OT CDs stashed away at ARSCC headquarters; that would be a disaster!

<Grady> Bert and Ernie... I will describe them in detail. If they force it out of me!!

<net> just don't tell them that they have to play the CDs backwards to get the data .....

<net> Bert and Ernie are well prepared for Helena's phone call. They won't give her any trouble. But she has to find them first..

<Grady> No play the cds transversly....

<net> : no one besides us knows that what is really needed is to run ROT13 on the CDs!

<Grady> Its at the Steinberg hall cluster right? And Bert and Ernie share the same room...

<net> next door to Barney

<Grady> Oh s**t! But I do have to tell all under oath, right? :-)

<net> Grady: you'd only be reporting hearsay. And you know that everything I say is false, including this sentence.

<Grady> Yes but hearsay is not excluded from discovery as it MIGHT lead to admissible evidence.

<net> Grady: well they've got two choices. Either call every college and technical institute in Pittsburgh to find out who has a Steinberg Hall, or else, ask me. But they'd have to ask very nicely.

<same netizen> Grady: I mean really nicely.

<Grady> I'll be very very reluctant to give them this information!

<Grady> Chumming the sharks

[ed: a rumor current on the net claims that NOTS are available on a cluster server at an unnamed school with a Steinberg Hall.]

<Grady< (to netizen) Your name is on the hit list

<netizen> (produces another reason he could be on the list) Yeah, but I suspect I'm on the hist list because I was one of the first to post "Since Grady is enjoined from receiving NOTs, send 'em to me." They'd like to show conspiracy.

<Grady> Damn I should have left some fake mail for them to find...

<Grady> Oh god they would love to show conspiracy. Too bad it is only in their fevered imagination

<net> Grady; just be sure you don't refer to the ARSCC spy working down the hall from Miscavige :)

<net> Right. "Nothing to see here, clams. Move along. Keep moving, please."

<Grady> Christ now I have to tell them about it!

<netizen> Grady: And for God's sake, don't mention the pinhole camera in Hogan's office. I hope ARSCC has pulled it by now. Damn risky idea in the first place.

[Our publisher asked if her name was on the list of key words.]

<Grady> no shelley your was not this time. Sorry -- get your critic stats up!!!

<netizen> sthomson: don't feel bad. Ron Newman didn't make it either.

<netizen> it's a good things they haven't found the wiretap on the computer data lines

<other netizen> that's no wiretap we call it an "internet"

<net> I'm waiting to see them try to depose Major Domo.

<Grady> Hmmmm.... ironically the most hits today came from the California legal code... Assists was the culprit

<net> Grady: I can't believe they're searching for "Power". What imbeciles.

<net> grady: they paid all this money, to get hits on the CA legal code????

* [name deleted] touch assists the legal code... it needs it more than most.

<netizen> ROTFL

<Grady> They would search for "the" if they thought they could get away with it...

[the list of known search terms has been posted to ars. netizens proceed to speculate on the four secret terms. Best guesses are Xenu, Capricorn, volcano.]

<Grady> they have not been disclosed even to me yet. Probably "ho of babble-on"

<net> They should search for "squick".

<Grady> I would not get into trouble... the 'ho is a barratous zealot.

<net> Weren't there four confidential terms in the Lerma/FACTnet search as well?

<netizen> so if they ask under depo what "squick" is what will you say?

<netizen> [furnishes a definition of squick, which we deleted for the public good]

<Grady> [cheerfully] squick: something to do with copulating with the skull of Hubbard.

<net> "squick" is a onamatapea of course.

<Grady> I have a FX and a Powerbook and a 486pc and a pentium laptop that I am using now.

<netizen> So how are they searching the Macs? do they do resource forks?

<Grady> They are doing the entire mac disk, btree all forks everything

<netizen> Grady: when will you find out the secret search terms?

<Grady> the 'ho hasn't deigned to tell me. I asked three times

<Grady> I have no idea why she doesn't tell me. Of course it doesn't matter since all hits will be barren.

<netizen> if they are searching for "Power", won't they get technical data about Powerbooks?

<net> Good thing they didn't search for "app"

<Grady> 20,000 files, 1.5 G of data whoooooo haaaaaa

<netizen> when all this settles out, whoever among them thought they should search your stuff is going to be very embarrassed

<Grady> The 'ho is going to be on rice and beans the rest of her unhappy life

<Grady> I estimate it will take a good two weeks for competant people... putting in a LOT of hours.

<Grady> The Special Master is $200 hour and the techs are 50-75 hour plus hotel each/hour

<Grady> $5000 just for copying the disks.. I got a free set of ZIP backups too. A nice door prize

<BJ> Grady: who is the Special Master and what does she look like?

<Grady> Beth Hamilton Esq. with Keiley Enra Piunti and Hamilton San Jose.

<Grady> They are a pro-corporate environmental litigation firm.. kill the spotted owls.!!! :-)

<Grady> She was an associate with Pillbury Madison Sutro before

<Grady> She is in her (?) 50's. Not technically savvy. But a friend of Hogan.

<Grady> Hogan got to select the pool of special masters for Judge Infante to pick from.

* a netizen wonders if justice picked blindly... or was it pushed.

<netizen> Uh oh, [prominent netizen]'s here. Now it's a real conspiracy.

<Grady> [re. deposition] it will be at 9am on Thursday at Crnich Depositions in Eureka. I think their policy is not to encourage us by giving us money. I offered to go down to San Jose for a mere $1200. But they would rather spend an extra $20k up here. Go figure.

<Grady> Maybe I will dress with my nose studs for the deposition. And a bathing suit.

<netizen> don't forget the tin-foil hat ....

[name deleted] will lend grady one of hers. nose studs, that is....

<Grady> thanks I've got two now. (magnetic) I can put them anywhere I want.

<net> grady: magnetic??? dillentantish
<net> :-)

<Grady> He he I assume the clams already have a clandestine copy of my disks by now.

<Grady> Too bad I anticipated that, huh? :-)

<net> does that mean the disks are basically stored in Hogan's office???

<BJ> Grady: is the SM in Hogan's office??

<Grady> The special master is in a nearby office (another floor of the same building) her main quality from the clams point of view is her malleability.

<Grady> The SM officially [has custody of the disks], But she thought I was paranoid when I asked her NOT to just lock them in a disk cabinet overnight.

<Grady> Of course it is nuts. But there is not much I can do about. However I anticipated the clams taking all my data to look at so... I always practice safe hex.

<Grady> I am going to introduce the clams to the concept of ageing passwords.

<Grady> Encrpyted files that even the maker cannot even under duress unlock. Gosh I feel sorry for them.

<netizen> Grady: how does that work? You use a long nonsense password kept in a file, and then delete the file after a while?

<netizen> I have a lot of files like that, and I did not even try ...

<Grady> you simply change public and private key pairs periodically and not keep backups of the secret keyring.

<Grady> I do this so that no one can force me to decrpyt mail to me years from now. My correspondents are safe even if the e-mail is intercepted.

<netizen> the point is that you don't have to worry about the backups if you no longer have a key to the contents

<Grady> Yes it is better than overwriting the encrypted files because EVEN IF the clams for example HAVE a copy of the ciphertext they cannot do anything. Nor can I help them decrypt EVEN if I wanted to.

<netizen> I see. As long as they don't have your old keyring, this is undefeatable.

<Grady> I can give them my passphrase but it will only unlock the NEW secret key. The old one is gone

<net> yep, and the email from the high level insiders in cos is a hot topic to them and will be for years (if they last that long)

<Grady> Yes. It works even for rubber hose cryptography.

<net> PGP is for criminals and child pornographers. CoS will see that it is made illegal soon. Har har.

<Grady> But of course with gnarly OT powerz the clams will be able to deal with any crypto a mere wog can use, right? :-)

<net> Hmm, how hard could it be to think up the correct string of 2048 characters?

<Grady> Well I always use at least 20 character passphrases chosen from the set A-Za-z0-9!-+ full 2^128 entripy

<net> No sense offending some characters by leaving them out....

<Grady> Well I switch machines a lot and don't want a special mac character on the PC for example...

<Grady> Do the clams know I did write a FAQ on passphrase chosing some time ago? :-)

<Grady> Ha ha I suppose the techs are working right now looking for "cluster" on my disks. What a thankless job. They dont even know about agrep and other good tools. Strictly Norton all the way.

<net> Oh jeez, that's right. "Cluster" was one of the search keywords. But "Steinberg" wasn't.

<Grady> Yeah their tech were looking for a non standard partition on both the mac and pc disks.

<Grady> I did remember to tell them not to run the little .com files in the folder maker virus didn't I? Scratches head...

<net> i figured out this hack for putting an invisible file system in the free space of an MSDOS partition... never implemented it though

<Grady> Christ non standard stuff confuses ME .... nothing hidden or fancy. Less talk more hits.

<Grady> The ho was practically wetting her pants when the tech yelled "a hit!!"

<net> so what was this hit?

<Grady> NED for NOTs or some such --- a court document.. Too bad ho, I hate to see her so disappointed! :-)

<net> Grady: can't you complain about Kobrin seeing hits before the SM has reviewed them?

<Grady> yes I can complain. Something might even happen if I do so. The fact is the Special Master's office is steps away from Hogan and 330 miles from me.

<Grady> I was in a confernece call with the SM and Kobrin and a tech last night --- they were in the same room!

<Grady> The most current sin is the lack of meet and confer with lead counsel and a representative of both the plaintiff and defendant.

<BJ> Grady: have you attempted to meet and confer?

<Grady> sthomson: yes I demand it by the deadline and Hogan merely said "I'm not available". He went on and said "and you can tell the Magistrate or anyone else too" he just defys the standing court orders and gets away with it (maybe)

<Grady> I am losing all respect I had for lawyers. :-)

<net(new)> Hello, Grady. Problems with your case?

<Grady> [to new netizen]: just the normal we want your discovery but we will not give you any of ours...

<Grady> you should have seen the 'ho's eyes light up when the technician yelled "hit"!!!

<Grady> She ran over to the screen and peered over his shoulder (violation of the special master arrangement)

<Grady> BUT for all the key words NO GOOD HITS. I feel so sorry for the ho...

<net> Grady: how was Kobrin looking? As ill and weak as Keith described?

<Grady> She wasnt' bad. More rested than I saw her before she was wearing a blue blazer and checkered skirt like a schoolgirl.

[discussion peters out into speculation about the use of dianetics to make something longer and reminiscences about an old television show which actually had as its theme song "There is nothing quite as quiet as a clam."]

4. The Rodent Report [a gossip column]

A cyberrat recently related: "Talk about a hack! Did you hear about the guy who took a printout of NOTs to a copy shop, had them make a mess of copies, and left instructions to call the local org to pick them up when the copies were ready?" Laughing, the rat refused to say in what city this had happened. He said he guessed the OSA knew, assuming that local orgs can be trusted to report picking up NOTS at a copy shop. And what if somebody called an org, claiming to be the copy shop? Don't blame that on me, the rat said, with an impish grin.

Some time ago we reported that Ron Newman, the sheriff of ars, had a romantic encounter with a certain lively lady netizen. By a passionate exchange in email he persuaded the lady to visit him in person, whereupon he laid siege to her castle, so to speak, and won her heart. Sad to say, after the conquest the sheriff failed to follow up with either an honorable proposal of marriage or gifts, flowers and the absolutely obligatory kind words. Instead he went on to a sucession of other ladies, toward whom we imagine he will behave with a similar lack of decency. We hereby warn our female readers that the sheriff is an unprincipled marauder for whom they should decline to lower the drawbridge.

--Arlene Fortiori

5. CAN: when the doors closed

In the week of the Equinox, the Cult Awareness Network, long-time foe of the church of scientology, met a surprise ending.

Cynthia Kisser related:

We found out on Thursday that our reorganization plan was denied, but we thought we would have time for an orderly conveyance of materials to the trustee. At about 2 pm Friday the trustee called to say that he was coming over. I thought he just wanted to talk, but he brought a locksmith with him. He was, however, very polite. Our employees were given a few minutes to collect their personal belongings. They were terminated as of Thursday; eventually they may be paid from the previous pay period through Thursday. [Left high and dry? we asked. Kisser: Yes.]

Several calls from scientologists came in while the trustee was there: "I understand you have some things for sale. When can I come by?" As the CAN personnel left the building, they were photographed and jeered by a trio of scientologists. Kisser explains that scientologists make a deliberate effort to punish and humiliate their opponents.

It is an office of perhaps 1000 square feet, filled with archives and documents. We have telephone and financial records and correspondence going back for three years: because we were involved in litigation, we were forbidden to destroy them. We are very concerned to protect the privacy of these records, Kisser says.

The records are mostly in hard copy, not encrypted.

Further, we have an archive of information, also in hard copy, on various religious cults going back 25 years. The archive is an important research resource. We worry that it may be purchased by someone and removed forever from the public domain.

The Jason Scott verdict was the direct cause of this seizure, but this was so because CAN had been weakened by multiple prior lawsuits by the church [of scientology]. After a period of litigation, CAN became uninsurable. Legal processes will continue despite bankruptcy. The Scott verdict ($1.8 million against CAN) will be appealed; the appeal brief will be filed in late August.

Meanwhile, anyone who has ever contacted CAN is advised to write to the trustee to explain that the contact was made under an expectation of strict confidentiality, and request that the trustee not release the CAN records or allow them to be sold.

Mr. Bruce deMedici
834 North Forest Avenue
Oak Park
FAX: (708) 848 0061

Kisser does not know how much discretion Mr. deMedici has in deciding what to sell and what to hold back. Inasmuch as many people have entrusted confidential information to CAN, she is very worried.

[Biased Journalism is distributed free in cyberspace. To subscribe, send a message to <>. Comments, article submissions and hot tips should be addressed to <>. Solid mail, checks and donations go to S. Thomson, 236 Stanford S/C, Suite 142, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Separate issues of Biased Journalism are available via USA domestic mail at $5 apiece. Foreign rates on request.]