- Order denying defendants' motion for a stay
- Order granting defendants' motion to continue trial
- Order requiring discovery to be completed
- Order setting a case management conference

27 February 2003


IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

ESTATE OF LISA MACPHERSON, by and
through the Personal Representative,
DELL LIEBREICH,

Plaintiff Case No. 00-5682-11
VS.


CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG
SERVICE ORGANIZATION, INC., JANIS
JOHNSON, ALAIN KARTUZINSKI, and
DAVID HOUGHTON, D.D.S.

Defendants

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR A STAY OF
PROCEEDINGS PENDING APPELLATE COURT
DETERMINATION OF PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI,
AND RENEWED MOTION FOR CONTINUANCE OF TRIAL
PENDING CONCLUSION OF PROBATE COURT PROCEEDINGS

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
TO CONTINUE TRIAL


ORDER REQUIRING DISCOVERY TO BE COMPLETED, BUT
DECLARING FILED WITNESS LISTS. FILED SUBSTANTIVE
MOTIONS, AND PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES CONCLUDED

ORDER SETTING A CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

This cause came on to be heard on defendants' Motion for a Stay of
Proceedings Pending Appellate Court Determination of Petition for Writ of
Certiorari, and Renewed Motion for Continuance of Trial Pending
Conclusion of Probate Court Proceedings. The hearing was set on January
17, 2003 for the purpose of determining the defendant's motion, and to
determine the status of the trial that had been set to begin January 21 for

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motions in limine, and January 27th to pick the jury and begin the trial. The plaintiff opposed the defendants' motion, and opposed any further continuance of the trial. At this hearing, certain other matters were discussed which will impact the future trial of the wrongful death complaint. This court heard argument, and now being fully advised, rules as follows:

The defendants' request for stay is denied. This court determined that while a stay might have been appropriate if the defendants had already filed their Petition for Writ of Certiorari regarding this court's denial of their Omnibus Motion for Terminating Sanctions and Other Relief, particularly that portion of this court's order that denied the defendants' request to disqualify Kennan Dandar, plaintiff's counsel, that petition had not been filed on the day of the hearing. The Church's counsel, Samuel Rosen, indicated that while it would be filed within the 30 day time period permitted in the Appellate Rules, it would not be filed before the scheduled start of the trial, unless this court required it to be filed in order to consider their motion. This court did not require the defendants to file their petition before she would consider the defendants' motion to continue the trial, but permitted the defendants to file their petition within the time allowed by the Appellate Rules.

In addition to the defendants indicating that they would be filing a Petition for Writ of Certiorari from this court's ruling on the defendants' Omnibus Motion, the defendants also brought to this court's attention that there were additional pending matters before the probate court, particularly one regarding the status of the personal representative, that had also not yet been determined. A discussion ensued and it was hoped by all parties that a stay previously entered by the Second District Court of Appeal would be lifted and that the matter of the personal representative's status could be resolved by the probate judge, Judge George Greer, before the start of the scheduled wrongful death trial, as a motion to lift the stay to allow this matter to be determined was pending before the Second District Court of Appeal. It was determined that if the stay were lifted, Judge Greer had told the parties and this court that he believed he could hear and determine the matter regarding the personal representative's status prior to the start of the scheduled trial. Accordingly, this court would not issue a stay of the wrongful death complaint on this basis.

After the fact, this court has now learned that the Second District Court of Appeal did not lift the stay, but has, as of the date of this order,

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denied Dell Liebreich's Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, which had
purportedly challenged Judge Greer's ruling that the Church had standing to
petition for the removal of the personal representative. Accordingly, this
court believes that the hearing on the Church's Petition to Remove the
Personal Representative can now proceed expeditiously, and should be
resolved by Judge Greer prior to any trial date that this court would set.
Thus, this issue would appear to be moot at this time. This matter will be
discussed further at a Case Management Conference that is set later in this
order.

This court also ruled that in addition to the above reasons, she did not
want to enter a stay until the second district ruled on the defendants'
anticipated Petition for Writ of Certiorari on this court's ruling on
defendants' Omnibus Motion. because there was discovery still to be
completed, and this court did not want any stay she might enter to interfere
with the continuation of all outstanding discovery regarding the wrongful
death complaint that needed to be completed prior to trial.
While this court decided not to enter a stay for any or all of the above
reasons, she reasoned that the wrongful death trial should not proceed until
the second district had ruled on the defendants' Petition for Writ of
'Certiorari, particularly regarding her ruling on the disqualification of
plaintiff's counsel. Since it was apparent at the hearing that there was no
way a ruling could be forthcoming before the scheduled trial .date since the
defendants' petition would not even have been filed by then, she agreed to
continue the trial at the defendants' request and over the objection of the
plaintiff. She agreed to continue the trial until the second district had ruled
on the defendants' Petition for Writ of Certiorari if the petition specifically
challenged that portion of this court's order regarding the disqualification of
plaintiff's counsel. Accordingly, at the hearing she continued the case for 30
days from the rendition of her order on the defendant's Omnibus Motion for
Terminating Sanctions and Other Relief. This court then directed that the
defendants furnish a copy of their petition to her after it was filed, and if it
challenged her order regarding Dandar's disqualification, the purpose for
which she was granting the defendants' request to continue the trial, she
agreed she would continue the trial until the second district ruled on their
petition.
This court has now had the opportunity to review the defendants'
Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which was furnished to her on February 26,

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2003, and has determined that it does sufficiently challenge that part of her ruling on the defendants' Omnibus Motion for Terminating Sanctions and Other Relief which denied the defendants' requested relief to disqualify plaintiff's counsel, Kennan Dandar. Accordingly, it is

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the defendants' Motion for a Stay of Proceedings Pending Appellate Court Determination of Petition for Writ of Certiorari and Renewed Motion for Continuance of Trial Pending Conclusion of Probate Court Proceedings is denied. It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the alternative relief of continuing the trial until such time as the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled on the defendant's Petition for Writ of Certiorari regarding this court's denial of the defendants' Omnibus Motion for Terminating Sanctions and Other Relief is granted. While it is this court's intent that the trial of the wrongful death complaint not commence until the second district has ruled on the defendants' petition, this court will set a tentative trial date at the Case Management Conference which is set in this order. It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that as discussed at the hearing on January 17, 2003, any remaining discovery regarding the wrongful death complaint shall be completed as soon as possible. This order shall have no effect on the parties completing any necessary discovery so that this trial, if one is still permitted after the ruling by the district court, can take place as soon as possible after the ruling by the district court. This court hereby notifies all of the parties to the wrongful death complaint that absent exigent circumstances, failure to complete discovery prior to the re-set trial date will not be grounds for a further continuance of the wrongful death trial. It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that as discussed at the hearing on January 17, 2003, the purpose for granting the defendants' requested continuance is for the purpose stated herein. The granting of the continuance shall in no way extend the time for filing plaintiff's and defendants' list of witnesses, as those should already have been filed prior to the January 17, 2003 hearing, pursuant to this court's previous orders. If either the plaintiff or the defendants wish to add witness to their previously timely filed witness lists, they will have to either get the permission of all of the other parties, or the permission of this court. It is further

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ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that as discussed at the hearing on
January 17, 2003, all substantive motions should already have been filed
prior to the hearing on January 17, 2003. The continuance in no way
extends the time for filing any additional substantive motions not previously
filed. It is further
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that as discussed at the hearing on
January 17, 2003 no further pre-trial conference shall be necessary prior to
the trial of the wrongful death complaint. The Uniform Pre-Trial Conference
Order previously entered by this court on December 12, 2002 shall remain in
full force and effect, except for those matters listed in T 13, which will be

adjusted by this court based on the new trial date. This will be discussed at
the Case Management Conference. It is further
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that at the hearing on January 17,
2003, the manner of selecting the venire for civil trials conducted in Pinellas
County was generally discussed. Counsel was informed that if they had any
problem with the way the venire was selected for all civil trials in Pinellas
County, they should advise this court by filing a motion challenging the
selection process. No motion has been forthcoming by any party to the
wrongful death complaint, and this court assumes none will be forthcoming.
However, assuming that this court left open the option of filing such a
motion at the hearing on January 17, 2003, this court does not want to have
to deal with any such motion at the last minute, due to the vast number of
jurors who will be summonsed for this trial. Accordingly, this court is
hereby notifying all parties and counsel for the wrongful death trial that if
they have a problem with the way jurors are summonsed for all civil trials in
Pinellas County, which is the same way they will be summonsed for the
wrongful death trial, they are required to file any motion they may wish to
be heard by a date which will be determined at the Case Management
Conference. It is further
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the plaintiff indicated in the
agreed Uniform Pre-Trial Conference Order of December 12, 2002 that she
would be filing motions in limine. The defendants did not indicate that they
would be filing such motions in the Uniform Order, but this court is aware
from the hearing of January 17, 2003 and other prior hearings, that they will
be filing such motions. At the hearing on January 17, 2003, which was three
days from the date these motions were to be heard, no such motions had
been filed by any of the parties to the wrongful death complaint. This court
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suggested that counsel provide to me at that time the motions in limine they already had prepared, or if the motions in limine were not yet prepared, that all parties file their motions in limine, with a copy to this court, as they were completed, so that this court could review them and research them if necessary, and also decide which filed motions she would hear pre-trial, and which ones she would decide not to hear pre-trial, but make rulings, should they become necessary, during the trial. To the best of this court's knowledge and belief, no party to the wrongful death complaint has filed any motion in limine to date. To aid this court and to aid counsel in their preparation for this trial that has an expected length of eight weeks, according to the Uniform Pre-Trial Conference Order of December 12, 2003, all motions in limine that the parties would like this court to consider prior to the beginning of the trial shall be filed by a date certain which will be set at the Case Management Conference. As an aside, this court still encourages all counsel to immediately file any such motions that have already been prepared, and to continue to file any such motions, as they are prepared rather than waiting to file them all at one time on whatever deadline is established. It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that a Case Management Conference is hereby scheduled for March 10, 2003 at 10:00 a.m. in this court's chambers at the Judicial Building, 545 1st Avenue N. St. Petersburg, Florida, to determine those matters referred herein to the Case Management Conference. Counsel for all parties to the wrongful death complaint shall appear, however such appearance may be in person or by phone. If counsel wish to appear by phone, they shall coordinate a conference call to this court's chambers, at 727-582-7743.

DONE AND ORDERED in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County Florida this 27th day of February, 2003.

Susan F. Schaeffer, Circuit

Copies to:
All Counsel of Record

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To Life and Death of Lisa McPherson