IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS, COUNTY, FLORIDA
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG
SERVICE ORGANIZATION, INC., a
ROBERT S. MINTON, JR., et al.,
MOTION TO SUMMARILY DENY APPLICATION FOR ORDER
TO SHOW CAUSE OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR A HEARING
The Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization ("the Church"), by its undersigned counsel, moves this Court for an order summarily denying the issuance of the order to show cause against the Church that is requested in "Respondent Robert S. Minton's Motion for Order to Show Cause and Motion, for Modification and In Camera Review or Early Termination." In the alternative, the Church requests the Court to schedule a hearing so that the Church can present argument as to why the Court should not issue the order to show cause, and for the Court to withhold ruling upon Mr. Minton's motion until the occurrence of such a hearing. The Church requests that its fees and costs in connection with this motion be ordered to be paid by Robert Minton as a sanction, pursuant to §57.105 F.S. The grounds for granting the Church's motion follow.
On July 11, 2001, counsel for the Church received service by mail of the pleading styled "Respondent Robert S. Minton's Motion for Order to Show Cause and Motion for Modification and In Camera Review or Early Termination." Mr. Minton's motion seeks two forms of relief from this Court. First, the motion asks that the Court issue an order to show cause why the Church should not be held in contempt of court for allegedly engaging in "harassment" of Mr. Minton in violation of Temporary Injunction Number 2. Additionally, Mr. Minton moves for modification or clarification of Condition 5 of the terms of his probation (pertaining to his admitted possession of firearms). The Church opposes the granting of any relief sought in, Mr. Minton's motion, and will submit a full brief addressing both issues as soon as is practical.' However, the Church requests that in the interim, this Court either summarily deny the application for an order to show cause, or, alternatively, schedule a hearing, and forebear issuing the order to show cause until the Church may be further heard as to why the request for the order to show cause should be summarily denied.
On its face, Mr. Minton's allegations of harrassment, and his resultant claim that the Church has violated the injunction and therefore committed an indirect criminal contempt, are patently frivolous. The purported harassment, as set forth in Mr. Mutton's motion, consists of: 1) the sending of a letter written by a representative of the Church of
Scientology Flag Service Organization to Mr. Minton's probation officer, with copies to the Court and Mr. Minton's counsel, documenting an apparent probation violation by Mr. Minton;' 2) the sending of a letter by an employee of the Church of Scientology of Boston (an entity not subject to this Court's injunction in any event), to a New Hampshire police department, forwarding copies of the injunction arid the terms of Mr. Minton's probation; and 3) the sending of a letter, by the same employee of the Church of Scientology of Boston, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, submitting information about an apparent probation violation of the conditions of Mr. Minton's probation. Mr. Minton's claim that any or all of these acts violate the injunction is absurd for at least the following reasons:
1) The mailing of letters to probation officers or law enforcement agencies, alleging violations of a court order is on its face free speech that is protected by the Florida and United States constitutions. It is ridiculous to contemplate whether Mr. Minton would also claim a violation of the injunction if the Church had sent similar letters to a newspaper, or posted the same allegations against him on the Internet, or conveyed the same information on picket signs in the permissible protected zones in
The focus of this letter is an Internet posting by Mr. Minton in which he brags that he helped the "escape" of an associate of the Lisa McPherson Trust who was convicted of violating a California hate crime statute for his activities against Scientologists in California, and then fled to Canada prior to his sentencing. That individual, who was subsequently arrested and detained in Canada, has been separately charged in California for failing to appear at his sentencing. 3
Clearwater. Moreover, employees of the Lisa McPherson Trust, and their associates, have recently engaged in a campaign in Clearwater of filing complaints with state and local government agencies against the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization arid Scientologists. Under the rationale of Mr. Minton's motion, the filing of each of these complaints would be acts of harassment violative of the injunction and requiring adjudication by this Court. This is simply ridiculous.
2) The "acts of harassment" prohibited by the Court's injunction clearly relate to harassment in the context of direct interaction between the parties subject to the injunction in connection with picketing and demonstrations. The Court made this clear in its discussion of the law that precedes the terms of the injunction:
In drafting an injunction, the Court must take into consideration the state's strong interest in ensuring the public safety and order. The Court must consider such things as promoting the free flow of traffic on public streets and sidewalks, sod the protection of property rights of all citizens. It is obvious from the foregoing, and the entirety of the proceedings before this Court, that the Court never intended its prohibition against harrassment to encompass the writing of letters to third parties, such as probation officers or law enforcement agencies. 3) Apart from the clear intent of the Court not to bring such; letter writing within the ambit of the injunction, it is a fundamental requirement of the free speech clauses that this Court interpret the scope of activities prohibited by its injunction so as to place the least possible burden upon free speech.
4) The application of the harassment provision of the injunction to the conduct
4 complained of by Mr. Minton would be unconstitutional because the letter writers could not reasonably be expected to have notice that their activities were prohibited. 5) Neither the Church of Scientology of Boston nor its employees are subject to the terns of the Court's injunction. 6) This Court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate an alleged violation of its injunction consisting of acts (such as the mailing of letters from Boston to addresses in Boston and New Hampshire) that occurred outside the State of Florida; 7) Mr. Minton cannot conceivably sustain his allegations of purported harassment by the letter writers, premised upon the charge that the letter writers "knew or had reason to know" that the substance of their letters was unfounded;3 and 8) The affidavit of Mr. Minton, submitted with his motion, does not "stat[ej the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charged," as required by Rule 3.840 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Aside from the facial insufficiency of the affidavit, Mr. Minton's statement in paragraph 8 of his affidavit, that "I have complied with all terms and conditions of the probation imposed in this cause to the best of my ability, and I am not aware of any violation of these terms and conditions," is belied by
' Regardless, the employee of the Church of Scientology of Boston who communicated with the law enforcement agencies in New England had more than ample justification to be concerned that Mr. Minton abide by the terms of the injunction and his probation, including in particular, the provision regulating his possession of weapons. Mr. Minton discharged his shotgun in proximity to Mr. Renna in New Hampshire in 1998, and was detained by the local police in connection with this incident. (See attached Exhibit A.) 5
Exhibit E attached to Mr. Minton's own motion. Exhibit E consists of a letter, dated July 5, 2001, to Mr. Minton from Connie T. Dugan, the Program Administrator of Mr. Minton's probation agency. In her letter Ms. Dugan documents Mr. Minton's failure to submit a statement that the probation agency had previously requested regarding his firearms, and concludes by warning Mr. Minton: "If we do not receive this statement by July 16, 2001, we will proceed with the paperwork for a violation of probation and request a warrant to be issued for your arrest." Thus, paragraph 8 of Mr. Minton's affidavit as demonstrably false. 4 The aforementioned defects in Mr. Minton's application for an order to show cause require that it be summarily denied. In the alternative, this Court should not rule upon the application until after the Church has had an opportunity to present oral argument in opposition. While the Church recognizes that it is common (but not required) for orders to show cause to be issued before an opposition is considered, it would be unjust for the Court to do so in the instant situation. This is so because the purported violations of the injunction alleged by Mr. Minton are so patently frivolous on their face and doomed to ultimate failure. There is no reason that the Church should have to incur the expense of a full evidentiary hearing that would inevitably result if an order to show cause were to issue. Such an exercise would also result in a serious waste of
' Ms. Dugan's letter also validates the concern conveyed in one of the letters written by the Church of Scientology of Boston employee about Mr. Minton's possession of guns.
judicial resources. 5 Further, there is no emergency or other exigent circumstance that requires immediate issue of an order to slow cause. In sum; by this motion the Church requests this Court to immediately reject the application, or alternatively, to maintain the status quo and not sign an order to show cause directed to the Church, until the Church has had an opportunity to demonstrate at a hearing why the proposed order to show cause should not issue at all.
CONCLUSION Robert Minton's application for an order to show cause against the Church should be summarily be denied. In the alternative, the Court should defer ruling upon, Mr. Minton's application until such time as the matter can be considered by the court at a hearing.
I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been fumished by Facsimile & Regular U.S. Mail to Bruce Howie, Esquire, of the firm of Piper, Ludin, Howie and Werraer, 5720 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33707?1719, and to John Merrett, Esquire, 2716 Herschel Street, Jacksonville, FL 32205, this 12th day of July, 2001.
Michael Lee Hertzberg ? _
740 Broadway, 51 Floor
New York, New York 10003
The Court will recall that the previous order to show cause brought against the Church in this case was denied after a lengthy hearing.
Telephone: (212) 982?9870
Facsimile: (21.2) 674?4614
F. Wallace Pope, Jr.
JOHNSON, BLAKELY, POPE, BOKOR,
RUPPEL & BURNS, P.A.
P.O. Box 1368
Clearwater, Florida 33757
Telephone: (727) 461?'1818
Facsimile: (727) 441?8617
Helena K. Kobrin
Florida Bar No. 0259713
NIOXON & KOBRTN
Il 100 Cleveland Street, Suite 900
Clearwater, Florida 33755
Telephone: (727) 443?5620
Facsimile: (727) 443?5640
Attorneys for Petitioner