On Sunday, October 15, 1995 at about 6pm I was home watching TV when someone knocked on my door. It was a process server who handed me a subpoena. I was to appear on October 20 at 10am in a downtown Phoenix law firm to be deposed for Arnie Lerma's case by the Church of Scientology.
The subpoena commanded me to bring "all documents, communications, and correspondence relating to the Church of Scientology or Religious Technology Center." It also wanted this type of material about alt.religion.scientology, the Advanced Technology, the Fishman case, Arnaldo Lerma, Bob Penny, Lawrence Wollersheim, FACTNet, or Dennis Erlich. It demanded copies of anything I've ever posted anonymously to the interenet or anything relating to anonymous postings.
The definition of the word "document" takes a whole page of the subpoena. Included is publications, books, papers, reports, statements, advertisements, sound recordings, tapes, email, and on and on. Thus, in order to obey this subpoena, I would have had to rent a pickup truck to bring along my 100 Scientology books, all the videotapes and audio tapes I have, and my drawers full of newspaper articles, court documents, etc. Therefore, I filed a "Rule 45" complaint regarding the incomprehensible scope of the demand, and I brought along instead copies of what I felt were pertinent to Arnie's case, which I could carry myself. This included a floppy disc of the alleged OT material that was posted to the internet on Christmas Eve, 1994, a copy of the Fishman exhibit that was anonymously mailed to me, and other information about FACTNet and other material.
As an aside, I had trouble getting an attorney in only 5 days from my subpoena and the deposition, so I went without an attorney. A friend went along with me as a witness.
The deposition lasted from 10am to 3pm when I had to leave for work (there was a one-hour lunch break which I offered to skip in order to complete the deposition that day). This is about the CD ROM's, not the deposition, so I will leave that. During the deposition Kendrick Moxon, the attorney who deposed me, asked about some CD ROM's that I possess which are backups of the FACTNet computer system. He wanted me to arrange so he could see those as well, so I called the person who had them and found that I could get them 2 days forward.
As my friend and I were leaving the deposition I saw that Lynn Farny, Moxon's assistant, had in his hand a floppy disc that I had brought along and another disc which appeared to me must be a copy of my floppy disc. Although I had previously suggested that since Mr. Moxon claimed he had no way to make a copy of my disc that they may be able to keep mine, it now appeared that they had indeed made a copy. I therefore asked Mr. Farny for my floppy disc back, as Mr. Moxon stood beside Mr. Farny. Mr. Farny stated that he could not give me back the floppy disc because it contained the church's secret scriptures. Then Mr. Farny demanded that I turn over the hard copy of the secret scriptures to him right then. I of course thought this was ridiculous, but I also felt somewhat intimidated by the whole affair, so I turned to leave and said "we're leaving now." At this point Mr. Farny yelled "we will raid you and sue you! You are on notice!" My friend and I left. (The raiding and suing was because I had copies of the church's sacred scriptures. After this I sent Moxon a letter explaining that I would give up all my copies of the scriptures in question if I got a formal legal order to do so).
So now I am in a position where I have agreed to turn over some CD ROM's to a person who has not only just stolen a floppy disc from me, but has threatened to raid my home. The next day I called Mr. Moxon and stated I would not be doing anything else until I had time to talk with an attorney. For the next 3 days Mr. Moxon called asking me to turn over the CD ROMs. On that 3rd day (Tuesday) I finally got some legal advice. I then wrote a letter to Judge Brinkema who was handling Arnie's case. I explained what happened and why I was turning over the CD ROM's to her. I mailed this letter and the CD ROM's to Judge Brinkema. This way I was obeying the subpoena, but also I was confident that if I turned the CD ROM's over to the court I would get them back. I was certain that if I turned them over to Mr. Moxon I would never see them again.
I figured at this point that the whole ordeal was over. After Arnie's case was over I could write the court if I hadn't gotten the CD ROM's back yet and they would no doubt mail them to me. However, I later got a court order from Judge Brinkema stating that she was treating my letter as a request for an order of protection, and was turning this over to Judge Jones. Apparently, Judge Brinkema saw the actions of Moxon and Farny as potentially egregious enough to try to protect the CD ROM's for me.
After some correspondence with Judge Jone's office explaining my side of the situation, Judge Jones made a Stipulation that my CD ROM's were to be copied for both the plaintiffs and the defense, and that my CD ROM's would be returned to me. About January 21 my CD ROM's arrived in the mail.
Finally, I sent a complaint about Moxon and Farny to the California Bar Association. I got a very weak letter back essentially stating that if I was a judge they might listen to my complaint. I then sent a second letter explaining my exasperation. Who knows where it goes from here.