email@example.com -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1Bob was served last Wednesday with a Temporary Restraining Order, enjoining him from coming within 150 yards of 18 Scientology buildings in Clearwater or any staff members or parishioners of Flag. (Gerard Renna, DSA Boston, was waiting at Bob's gate at the Boston airport on Wednesday morning with a sheriff and a process server. How did Gerard know what flight Bob was planning to take to Tampa and when?)
The TRO was granted ex parte, meaning without Bob's knowledge. A hearing was set for today (Monday, November 15) in the St. Petersburg courthouse at noon, Judge Thomas E. Penick presiding.
Bob wanted Denis de Vlaming, a very well-respected attorney in Pinellas County, to represent him, but Mr. de Vlaming was out of town and couldn't meet with Bob until right before the hearing this morning. We drove to the courthouse in St. Pete and met him in the law library for twenty minutes, just long enough to meet him and give him a very short briefing of the history of Scientology's harassment of Bob, including the current circumstances. It was decided last week that we would have Mr. de Vlaming request a continuance to give him a chance to prepare for the hearing, although it would have to be a brief continuance, since Bob wants the TRO lifted in time for the Lisa McPherson Memorial Picket Week the first week in December.
Then it was time to attend the hearing. We were surprised to see how many Scientologists and Scientology attorneys were there. The attorneys included Paul Johnson, Lee Fugate and Michael Hertzberg. Richard Howd (the "petitioner") and Ben Shaw were sitting at the table with Howd's attorney Paul Johnson.
Mike Rinder was sitting in the front row with Michael Hertzberg, Lee Fugate and a blonde OSA Legal go-for, a woman I have seen in previous hearings but whose name I do not know. One of the OSA handlers who has been assigned to handle Bob at several pickets in Clearwater, the one we call Spencer, was sitting in the next row with a long-time OSA Legal staff member whose first name is Joyce but whose last name I have forgotten.
Also sitting in that row was Steve Marlowe. Steve was one of DM's fair-haired boys back in the early 1980s, but he was booted out of the inner circle and sent to the RPF for being disaffected with DM, and he has been in purgatory ever since. The last time I saw him was several months ago in Clearwater. At that time he appeared to be in charge of the RPF construction crews for the building across the street from the Ft. Harrison. His presence in this hearing today was a clear indication that he's starting to rise in the ranks again.
Steve's assignment today seemed to be to try to introvert me and cave me in. Every time I turned around Steve was staring at me with a contemptuous grin that has been his trademark ever since I've known him. I told Bob Steve was doing TR 0 Smirk on me. Bob tried to get a photograph of the famous Steve Marlowe smirk, but as soon as Steve saw the camera he turned away.
In the next row back was the tall, thin, gray-haired man who was part of the gang of Scientologists who harassed Bob and me last week. He was one of the three people videotaping me when I was surrounded at the Post Office, and he was also one of the ones videotaping us when Bob and I went to our car in the parking structure after meeting with the CPA about his building.
Sitting next to him was a woman who used to be a very good friend of mine, Rhea Smith. She was the Treasury Secretary for OSA US when I was in charge of the Freedom Unit. Back in 1985, DM ordered Church of Scientology of California (CSC) gutted to make sure Lawrence Wollersheim wouldn't get any money if he won his summary judgment. The only parts of the corporation that were supposed to be left visible were OSA US Treasury and the Freedom Unit. Everything else was moved into a new corporation, Church of Scientology Western United States (CS WUS).
So Rhea and I stayed up all night together one night moving to offices across the street from the Complex on N. Catalina. After that Treasury and Freedom were pretty much left alone and Rhea and I spent a lot of time together. She had a terrible accident, I think in 1988, and she was severely injured. Today was the first time I'd seen her up and about since I left in 1989. It was really good to see her. I said hi to her, but she wouldn't answer me.
Sitting on our side of the courtroom were Ken Dandar and his consultant, Michael Garko, former Clearwater police detective Ray Emmons, and Duncan (DW) Pierce, who flew down to attend the hearing.
Bob and I sat at the "defendant" table with Denis de Vlaming.
The judge came out at about 12:15 and was very upbeat and friendly. Scientology had set up a TV and VCR and was obviously ready to "go to the mat." But Mr. de Vlaming got up and asked the judge for a continuance based on the fact that he had only just met his client twenty minutes before the hearing. Mr. de Vlaming also stated that of course his client was aware that the TRO would remain in place. The judge thought that would be just fine as long as the other side had no objections.
Paul Johnson got up and said a continuance would be fine with him, but that his schedule was so full that he would not be able to reschedule a hearing until mid-December or early January.
Mr. de Vlaming then stood up again and explained to the judge that waiting till mid-December would not be acceptable to his client, for two reasons. For one thing, he told the judge, there is an important protest in the first week of December which Mr. Minton wants to attend. For another reason, Mr. de Vlaming said, Mr. Minton has bought a building in downtown Clearwater which he intends to use as a personal residence as well as for a business and he cannot be prohibited from entering his own property. This was a bombshell in the Scientology camp.
At that point the judge said, well then, he would have to check his schedule. He took a short break, and when he came back he said, OK, let's have the hearing on November 29. Will an hour be enough? Paul Johnson shook his head and so did Mr. de Vlaming, so the judge said, Well then, I'll ask the senior judge to reassign my pretrial conferences so I can have the whole afternoon free for this hearing.
Then the judge said he had something else to put on the record. He announced that he went to law school with Denis de Vlaming and that he has known both Paul Johnson and Denis de Vlaming for many, many years. He detailed some other connections he has to de Vlaming, and then he said that he didn't want anyone stepping forward later and accusing him of hiding any of his connections with either of the attorneys, so he wanted both sides to take a few moments to decide if they wanted him to take himself off the case. He left the courtroom for a few moments and when he came back, Paul Johnson told the judge he would be honored to have him preside over the hearing, and Mr. de Vlaming said, "Ditto."
The judge was obviously happy about that, and without further ado, he adjourned the hearing.
The TRO is still in place until the hearing on November 29.
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