Biased Journalism Vol. 4, issue 6

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 6 Tuesday May 12, 1998 Contents:
  1. Henson Verdict Stuns Netizens

Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!

BULLETIN: Keith Henson Trial, Day Five : The Verdict

Errata: William Hart's suit is black, the attorney informed us. Not gray. Mr. Rosen's first name is Sandy, not Sam. We apologize for the errors.

This day began quite early, at 8 a.m. on an unreasonably stormy San Jose morning.

Graham Berry finishes his cross-examination of Henson. He works to develop the First Amendment/civil disobedience theme. almost every sentence earns an objection by Sandy Rosen. Berry addresses each item developed by Rosen earlier, trying to get Henson to clarify and explain his answers. Objections notwithstanding, this flows well.

Later Rosen gets to question Henson. He is brusque, adversarial.

Warren McShane lurks in the background. We are informed that he is to be called as a rebuttal witness. As many readers will know, this did not actually happen. McShane sacrificed the opportunity to testify at the Zenon Panoussis trial in order to be available for Henson, but when it came down to it he was not called.

Whyte scolds Rosen for badgering the witness (Henson).

The minute by minute action will be fully discussed in an upcoming article. Suffice it to say that Rosen's cross examination of Henson was fast-paced and featured questions of the type : "you testified that the FDA had outlawed e-meters, correct?" Henson: "no, I testified that the FDA had prohibited the use of medical claims for e-meters." Variations of the simple trick question appeared frequently in Rosen's questioning.

Rosen then took to quizzing Henson on his knowledge of the law. "You are an amateur lawyer," Rosen said at one point. The CA copyright statue was displayed for the jury. Henson was forced to admit he had not read it.

Graham Berry repaired some of the damage in the next session, but much of what he wanted to introduce was stifled by Judge Whyte.

The most significant question may have been the very last one Berry asked Henson. "Do you feel your experience has deterred you from (ever publishing any copyrighted scientology material again)?" Henson repled "Yes. At least not openly."

Closing arguments took place. Rosen's general tack was to claim that Henson was not serious in his motives. Had Henson been around 3000 years ago he would have called Judaism a cult. If he had been here 2000 years ago he would have called Christianity a cult.

Rosen criticized Henson for having no exhibits and no witnesses, suggesting that he had no defense available. (This was quite effective with the jury, we subsequently learned.)

Berry's closing address numerous objections from Rosen. Nevertheless it was a fine piece of legal persuasion.

It wasn't enough. To the shock of the net citizens, and to the palpable surprise of the RTC lawyers, the jury returned with a verdict of wilful infringement and damages of $75,000.

The verdict stunned Henson and his wife.

The jury foreman later told us that Henson's flippant attitude had a lot to do with the verdict. (A full description of wwhy the jury decided as they did will appear in our long article.)

Henson plans to appeal. Graham Berry will soon file a fistful of motions on his behalf, seeking to reverse the trial verdict.

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