Biased Journalism Vol. 4, issue 2

Biased Journalism : a net magazine designed to compensate for the shortcomings of the professional news media. We cover issues of interest to the citizens of cyberspace. This is a community newspaper of the net.

Copyright 1998 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.

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Biased Journalism Volume 4, Number 2 Contents:
  1. Special Bulletin #1 re. Keith Henson Trial, Day One!
Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!


Last Thursday the rubber met the road in a tense struggle between RTC/scientology attorneys and H. Keith Henson. The netizen was defended by Graham Berry, nemesis of the church. A detailed article will be forthcoming about this hearing (along with a Rodent Report which we are sure you wil enjoy).

The Thursday hearing revolved around the motions in limine, which are motions submitted right before the trial. They typically concern what exhibits may be offered and what information may be provided to a jury.

RTC attorneys wanted to exclude the offending post made by H. Keith Henson. Argument went back and forth, but Judge Whyte eventually decided that it would be strange to require a jury to render a verdict about copyright infringement if it could not see the infringing post. He agreed to admit it.

Argument then hinged upon whether the subject matter of the post could be discussed. Pragmatically there was no way to exclude the subject matter, because the question of Henson's motivation for making the post was clearly relevant to the wilfulness of the infringement. Said wilfulness is a major issue in the trial at hand.


The day was occupied with arguments about the motions in limine and jury selection. (A detailed article will be forthcoming.) Once again Judge Whyte was pressured by RTC attorney Sam Rosen to restrict the subjects Henson's defense can disclose. Attorney Graham Berry fought back, and Rosen failed to gain ground here.

The jury was selected. The parties wrangled over details, and Sam Rosen made an unsuccessful bid to persuade Graham Berry to agree to a verdict of 5, as opposed to 6 jurors.

The seated panel comprised 8 jurors, 6 being necessary for a civil trial. As soon as they were seated, issues developed with two jurors. One was finally excused (difficulty understanding English and some other problems). This leaves 5 jurors. (A complex argument went on over this, which we will describe later.)

Opening arguments will be given tomorrow morning. H. Keith Henson will be called to the stand to testify. The unresolved issues of what subjects he will be allowed to raise on cross examination and a parallel issue with respect to the testimony of Warren McShane will be argued.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be more intense than today. Sam Rosen will find a way to re-argue the motions Graham Berry will need to be at his best to fight off the challenge. We will have a bulletin at the end of the day.

Bottom line: major arguments about what issues can be explored on cross examination are still to come. However a jury has now been picked and the Judge appears to have ruled that the entirety of the original post can be given to the jury.

We will have a Bulletin about tomorrow's events.

A detailed article about these hearings will be produced as soon as time permits.

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