Los Angeles, CA
February 9, 2001
Seven years ago, the Los Angeles Daily Journal published a lead article under the headline "Church Calls It Quits." The Church of Scientology had dismissed its defamation lawsuit against "former adherent Steven Fishman and his Florida psychologist Uwe Geertz." The church had sought at least $1 million in damages against each of the two defendants for their comments in the May 6, 1991, issue of Time Magazine: "Scientology; Thriving Cult of Greed and Power." The complaint in the Fishman case alleged that Fishman and Geertz had falsely claimed that Fishman was ordered by church officials to kill Dr. Geertz and then commit suicide in the wake of Fishman's arrest in a fraudulent financial scam that had allegedly involved church. Los Angeles lawyer, Graham E. Berry, had successfully represented Dr.Geertz and assisted Steven Fishman who was representing himself. "Besides serving as a legal setback, the action in the case also may damage Scientology's pursuit of a related libel law suit against Time Magazine," the Daily Journal commented. It did and Time Magazine's successful motion for summary judgment was recently affirmed on appeal. At the time, Scientology claimed it was, "forced to drop the case against Fishman and Geertz in response to harassment and abuse heaped upon Scientology celebrities and followers who Berry attempted to depose during pre-trial discovery."
The Church of Scientology openly blamed Graham Berry for its retreat in the Fishman-Geertz case and set about employing its controversial "fair game policy," which said that anyone interfering with Scientology could be "tricked, lied to or destroyed," for their actions. Among other things, the filing of the Fishman declaration attaching the church's confidential trade secret scriptures set the stage for a series of high profile Internet lawsuits alleging thousands of purported copyright violations. Since the Fishman-Geertz case the church's fortunes have never been the same.
Berry has paid dearly for his defense of his client. Over the next seven years Berry was driven from his career, his home and car, and into the Bankruptcy Court where the church still pursues him. In the process it obtained a vexatious litigant ruling against Berry, multiple sanctions awards and made successive attempts to have him professionally disciplined and arrested for contrived offenses.
The church's persecution of Berry was spear headed by Kendrick Moxon of the church's in-house law firm Moxon & Kobrin. At various times he was joined by LA Police Commission Chairman Gerry Chaleff of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Samuel Rosen of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker; Gary Soto of Wasserman, Comden & Casselman; David Chodos of Simke Chodos; as well as Donald Wager and Thomas Byrnes.The efforts of Moxon's "chief investigator" Eugene Ingram and various of these lawyers culminated in Moxon and Wager's 1999 filing of Hurtado v. Berry in Los Angeles Superior Court. Through CNA, his malpractice insurance carrier, Berry hired Edith Matthai and Kim Sellars of Los Angeles' Robie & Matthai to defend him. (Ms. Matthai has just commenced a term as President of The Southern California Association of Defense Counsel.)
This week, Moxon and Byrnes suddenly and unilaterally dismissed the Hurtado v. Berry lawsuit less than one month before trial. Again, Scientology claims that Berry and his lawyers engaged in abusive discovery. However, the Hurtado dismissal came as Moxon unsuccessfully tried to replace discovery referee, Hon. Stephen Lachs, and awaited the outcome of a motion to compel the deposition of his "investigator" Eugene Ingram, as well as an almost certain ruling that the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege applied to communications between the Moxon & Kobrin lawyers, Elliot Abelson, Donald Wager, Hurtado and the Church of Scientology. With Berry talking to law enforcement and the IRS, the Church of Scientology again hoisted the white flag of surrender and fled from the battlefield. The church's sudden retreat seems certain to now topple rows of dominos in Berry's favor. It will also have other serious repercussions upon "the most evil organization upon the planet" and some of its lawyers and representatives.
The evidence in the Hurtado v. Berry case is unusually damning because it is corroborated by one lawyer's testimony, over six different witnesses' and over sixty different documents - many of which bear Moxon's own signature and handwriting. It includes multiple incidents of alleged blackmail, bribery, witness tampering, subornation of perjury, perjury, wire tapping, obstruction of justice, frauds upon various courts, attorney misrepresentations and lies to various courts, false criminal complaints, false state bar complaints and possibly judicial corruption.
For further information contact Graham Berry at (310) 393 2835, or email firstname.lastname@example.org