Next in the Garcia Fraud Lawsuit: Scientology Is Asked to Explain Its Arbitration System - 2013-10-20
Judge James D. Whittemore On Friday, federal Judge James D. Whittemore issued an order in Luis and Rocio Garcia's fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. Whittemore has given Scientology until Thursday to produce a 5-page memo explaining its arbitration system as this case approaches its next hurdle.
On October 3, Whittemore dispensed with Scientology's attempt to disqualify the Garcia legal team. That failed church motion had put the lawsuit on hold for some six months and was, for the most part, a non-starter. (Here's our report from the courtroom.) But even before it moved to disqualify Garcia attorneys Ted Babbitt and Ronald Weil, Scientology had filed a motion that would have the effect of dismissing the lawsuit.
In that motion, Scientology asked Whittemore to find that based on agreements the Garcias signed when they were members of the church, they should be using Scientology's own internal arbitration system to settle any disputes about donations they've made. The dispute the Garcias have with them is a religious one, Scientology argues, and there's no place for a civil law court in such a dispute — the church's First Amendment religious freedom rights would be violated if such a lawsuit continued.