Biased Journalism Vol. 4, issue 3

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Biased Journalism Volume 4, Number 3 May 6, 1998 Contents:
  1. Special Bulletin #2 re. Keith Henson Trial, Day Two!
Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!


Today began early with Sam Rosen arguing once again (before the jury arrived) that the jury should not be allowed to see the contents of NOTS34 and that the judge should use "deterrence of others" in his opening instructions (suggesting that the jury should consider making an example of Henson by assessing heavy damages.)

Judge Whyte refused to bar NOTS34 from the jury, but withheld a decision on the deterrence language. He gave Rosen permission to proceed as if that language were going to be used.

There was a wait for the jury. One of them had car trouble. To correct the math in an earlier post, six jurors are required for this trial. One of the eight original jurors was excused because he had difficulty understanding English, so there are now seven.

The Judge fussed at Henson for distributing his press release on courthouse property. Rosen accused Henson of handing it out in general; Henson said he had only given it to the marshals when they asked to see it. The Judge blew off some steam, but tried to keep his temper.

When the jury finally arrived, opening statements were heard. Rosen gave a fairly long statement in which he helped the jury with basic definitions and told a heavily edited version of the history of the case. Graham Berry listened attentively. But when it was Berry's turn, Rosen interrupted him with objections every few sentences. The attorneys made repeated trips to the sidebar (next to the bench, where they could talk to the Judge without being overheard by the jury) for intense sotto voice arguments.

Berry was visibly trying to get things before the jury which Rosen was visibly trying to keep hidden.

Keith Henson was sworn in and questioned by Rosen. The questions were interspersed with video segments from a tape of Henson's deposition. The videotape had been heavily edited; bits of Henson's responses had been taken from multiple places in the deposition and tacked together, obliterating the context. [Graham Berry later told us that while videotaped depositions are commonplace, he had never seen this done before. He complained and Judge Whyte ordered Rosen to provide references to pages in the transcript.]

Rosen attempted to shake Henson's concentration and make him lose his composure by rude confrontational behavior in the deposition. Henson remained calm.

First Rosen and then Warren McShane interrupted Henson's replies by cuing the video. This happened multiple times and looked deliberate to us. We surmise that Judge Whyte noticed this too; he finally asked McShane to stop it.

Henson's testimony continues tomorrow. Then Judge Whyte will have to decide on some guidelines for Berry's cross examination. Whyte (presumably because it simplifies things) and Rosen want to limit Berry's references; Berry, however, has the right to present information on Henson's state of mind and beliefs at the time he made the posts. Judge Whyte has ruled that Berry can do this; he's weaseling somewhat but we think he will hold the line.

Body count: the courtroom was full, mostly of scientology lawyers, observers and operatives. We counted 13 RTC backers in the audience and a few more in the hall. Today there were 4 netizens, including Biased Journalism's reporter, and Jana Gold of Morrison & Foerster, who came as an observer.

In legal fees alone, the cost of this trial to RTC is probably in the neighborhood of $25,000 _per day_. One should add $2,000 to $3,000 for the transcript, which RTC has ordered on a daily basis.

Stats: No one knows what the jury thought of all this. To our eye the day looked fairly even: Henson lost points for vulgar language (the origami post and calling Mrs. Kobrin a 'ho) and Rosen lost points for being, uh, Rosen.

Tomorrow will be even more intense than today. We expect Rosen to harass Graham Berry during Berry's cross examination of Henson, and more fireworks before Judge Whyte. Look for another Bulletin at the end of the day.

After this trial there will be a detailed article giving a minute-by-minute account of the action.

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