Scientology to federal court: A judge calling our members directly? Are you nuts? - 2017-06-03
The last time we checked in on the Garcia fraud lawsuit, Tampa federal Judge James Whittemore sounded like he'd lost all patience with the Church of Scientology. He restated, in no uncertain terms, that he was fed up with the bickering on both sides and was taking over the process of selecting a panel of arbitrators from a list of 500 Los Angeles-area Scientologists submitted by the church under seal.
But once again, the church is risking the judge's wrath. It filed a motion yesterday questioning the judge's intentions, and we're almost starting to feel sorry for church attorney Wally Pope, who no doubt must be submitting this stuff under the insistence of his diminutive client, Scientology leader David Miscavige.
If you remember, California couple Luis and Rocio Garcia filed their fraud lawsuit in 2013, claiming that the church had lied in order to get large donations from them. In 2015, however, Judge Whittemore sided with Scientology, saying that the Garcias were required by contracts they signed as church members to submit their grievances to internal Scientology arbitration, and he stayed the lawsuit. But in the two years since then, the two sides have been unable to seat a panel of arbitrators, who must be church members in good standing. So Whittemore stepped in and decided he would select the panel, and ordered the church to turn over the list of 500 names and phone numbers.