BRECKENRIDGE DECISIONIn this matter heretofore taken under submission, the Court announces its intended decision as follows:
CD - 24 16 October 1994
Copyright (C) 1994 Paul Breckenridge Jr. Redistribution rights granted for non commercial purposes.
Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles
Church of Scientology of California, ) No. C 420153 ) Plaintiff, ) MEMORANDUM OF ) INTENDED DECISION ) vs. ) ) Gerald Armstrong, ) ) ) Defendant ) ______________________________ ) ) Mary Sue Hubbard, ) ) Intervenor ) ______________________________ )
As to the tort causes of action, plaintiff, and plaintiff in intervention are to take nothing, and the defendant is entitled to Judgment and costs.
As to the equitable actions, the court finds that neither plaintiff has clean hands, and that at least as of this time, are not entitled to the immediate return of any document or objects previously retained by the court clerk. All exhibits received in evidence or marked for identification, unless specifically ordered sealed (note 1), are matters of public record and shall be available for public inspection or use to the same extent that any exhibit would be available in any other lawsuit. In other words they are to be treated henceforth no differently than similar exhibits in other cases in Superior Court. Furthermore, the "inventory list and description," of materials turned over by Armstrong's attorneys to the court, shall not be considered or deemed to be confidential, private, or under seal.
All other documents or objects presently in the possession of the clerk (not marked herein as court exhibits) shall be retained by the clerk, subject to the same orders as are presently in effect as to sealing and inspection, until such time as trial court proceedings are concluded as to the severed cross complaint. For the purposes of this Judgment, conclusion will occur when any motion for a new trial has been denied, or the time within such a motion must be brought has expired without such motion being made. At that time, all documents neither received in evidence, nor marked for identification only, shall be released by the clerk to plaintiff's representatives. Notwithstanding this order, the parties may at any time by written stipulation files with the clerk obtain release of any or all unused materials.
Defendant and his counsel are free to speak or communicate upon any of Defendant Armstrong's recollections of his life as a Scientologist or the contents of any exhibit received in evidence or marked for identification and not specifically ordered sealed. As to all documents, and other materials held under seal by the clerk, counsel and defendant shall remain subject to the same injunctions as presently exist, at least until the conclusion of the proceedings in which defense counsel, or any of them, is of record, such counsel shall have the right to discuss exhibits under seal, or their contents, if such is reasonably necessary and incidental to the proper representation of his or her client.
Further, if any court of competent jurisdiction orders defendant or his attorney to testify concerning the fact of any such exhibit, document, object, or its contents, such testimony shall be given, and no violation of this order will occur. Likewise, defendant and his counsel may discuss the contents of any documents under seal or of any matters as to which this court has found to be privileged as between the parties hereto, with any duly constituted Governmental Law Enforcement Agency or submit any exhibits or declarations thereto concerning such document or materials, without violating any order of this court.
This court will retain jurisdiction to enforce, modify, alter, or terminate any injunction included within the Judgment.
Counsel for defendant is ordered to prepare, serve, and file a Judgment on the Complaint and Complaint in Intervention, and Statement of Decision if timely and properly requested, consistent with the court's intended decision.
The court has found the facts essentially as set forth in the defendant's trial brief, which as modified, is attached as an appendix to this memorandum. In addition the court finds that while working for L.R. Hubbard (hereinafter referred to as LRH), the defendant also had an informal employer-employee relationship with plaintiff Church, but had permission and authority from plaintiffs and LRH to provide Omar Garrison with every document or object that was made available to Mr. Garrison, and further, had permission from Omar Garrison to take and deliver to his attorneys the documents and materials which were subsequently delivered to them and thenceforth into the custody of the County Clerk.
Plaintiff Church has made out a prima facie case of conversion (as bailee of the materials), breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of confidence (as the former employer who provided confidential materials to its then employee for certain specific purposes, which the employee later used for other purposes to plaintiff's detriment). Plaintiff Mary Jane Hubbard has likewise made out a prima facie case of conversion and invasion of privacy (misuse by a person of private matters entrusted to him for certain specific purposes only).
While defendant has asserted various theories of defense, the basic thrust of his testimony is that he did what he did, because he believed that his life, physical and mental well being, as well as that of his wife were threatened because the organization was aware of what he knew about the life of LRH, the secret machinations and financial activities of the Church, and his dedication to the truth. He believed that the only way he could defend himself, physically as well as from harassing lawsuits, was to take from Omar Garrison those materials which would support and corroborate everything that he had been saying within the Church about LRH and the Church, or refute the allegations made against him in the April 22 Suppressive Person Declare. He believed that the only way he could be sure that the documents would remain secure for his future use was to send them to his attorneys, and that to protect himself, he had to go public so as to minimize the risk that LRH, the Church, or any of their agents would do him physical harm.
This conduct if reasonably believed by the defendant and engaged in by him in good faith, finds support as a defense to the plaintiff's charges in the Restatements of Agency, Torts, and case law.
Restatement of Agency, Second, provides:
"Section 395f: An agent is privileged to reveal information confidentially acquired by him in the course of his agency in the protection of a superior interest of himself or a third person."Restatement of torts, Second, section 271:
"Section 418: An agent is privileged to protect interests of his own which are superior to those of the principal, even though he does so at the expense of the principal's interest or in disobedience to his orders."
"One is privileged to commit an act which would otherwise be a trespass to or a conversion of a chattel in the possession of another, for the purpose of defending himself or a third person against the other, under the same conditions which would afford a privilege to inflict harmful or offensive contact upon the other for the same purpose."The Restatement of Torts, Second, section 652a, as well as case law, make it clear that not all invasions of privacy are lawful or tortious. It is only when the invasion is unreasonable that it becomes actionable. Hence, the trier of fact must engage in a balancing test, weighing the nature and extent of the invasion, as against the purported justification therefore to determine whether in a given case, the particular invasion was unreasonable.
In addition the defendant has asserted as defense the principal involved in the Case of Willig vs Gold, 75 Cal.App.2d, S09, S14, which holds that an agent has a right to disclose his principal's dishonest acts to the party prejudicially affected by them.
Plaintiff Church has asserted and obviously has certain rights arising out of the First Amendment. Thus, the court cannot, and has not inquired into or attempted to evaluate the merits, accuracy, or truthfulness of Scientology or any of its precepts as a religion. First Amendment rights, however, cannot be utilized by the Church or its members, as a sword to preclude the defendant, who the Church is suing, from defending himself. Therefore, the actual practices of the Church or its members, as it relates to the reasonableness of the defendant's conduct and his state of mind are relevant, admissible, and have been considered by the court.
As indicated by its factual findings, the court finds the testimony of Gerald and Jocelyn Armstrong, Laurel Sullivan, Nancy Dincalcis, Edward Walters, Omar Garrison, Kima Douglas, and Homer Schomer to be credible, extremely persuasive, and the defense privilege of justification established and corroborated by this evidence. Obviously there are some discrepancies or variations in recollections, but these are the normal problems which arise from lapse of time, or from different people viewing matters or events from different perspectives. In all critical and important matters, their testimony was precise, accurate, and rang true. The picture painted by these former dedicated Scientologists, all of whom were intimately involved with LRH, or Mary Jane Hubbard, or of the Scientology Organization, is on one hand pathetic, and on the other hand, outrageous. Each of these persons literally gave years of his or her respective life in support of a man, LRH, and his ideas. Each has manifested a waste and loss or frustration which is incapable of description. Each has broken with the movement for a variety of reasons, but at the same time, each is, still bound by the knowledge that the Church has in its possession his or her most inner thoughts and confessions, all recorded in "Pre-clear (P.C.) folders" or other security files of the organization, and that the Church or its minions is fully capable of intimidation or other physical or psychological abuse if it suits their ends. The record is replete with evidence of such abuse.
In 1970 a police agency of the French Government conducted an
investigation into Scientology and concluded, "this sect, under
the pretext of 'freeing humans' is nothing in reality but a
vast enterprise to extract the maximum amount of money from its
adepts by (use of) pseudo-scientific theories, by (use of)
'auditions' and 'stage settings' (lit. to 'create a theatrical
scene') pushed to extremes ( a machine to detect lies, its own
particular phraseology. ), to estrange adepts from their
families and to exercise a kind of blackmail against persons
who do not wish to continue with his sect. (Exhibit 500-HHHHH)
>From the evidence presented to this court in 1984, at the very
least, similar conclusions can be drawn. In addition to violating and abusing its own members civil-rights, the organization over the years with its "Fair Game" doctrine has harassed and abused those persons not in the Church whom it perceives as enemies. The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and the bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder LRH. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile. At the same time it appears that he is charismatic and highly capable of motivating, organizing, controlling, manipulating, and inspiring his adherents. He has been referred to during this trial as a "genius," a "revered person," a man who was "viewed by his followers with awe." Obviously, he is and has been a very complex person, and that complexity is further reflected in his alter ego, the Church of Scientology. Notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, this court is satisfied that LRH runs the Church in all ways through the Sea Organization, his role of Commodore, and the Commodore's Messengers. (3 see exhibit K Flag Order 3729). He has, of course, chosen to go into "seclusion," but he maintains contact and control through the top messengers. Seclusion has its light and dark side too. It adds to his mystique, and yet shields him from accountability and subpoena or service of summons.
LRH's wife, Mary Sue Hubbard is also plaintiff herein. On the one hand she certainly appeared to be a pathetic individual. She was forced from her post as controller, convicted and imprisoned as a felon, and deserted by her husband. On the other hand her credibility leaves much to be desired. She struck the familiar pose of not seeing, hearing or knowing any evil. Yet she was the head of the Guardian Office for years and among other things, authored the infamous order "GO 121669" which directed culling of supposedly confidential P.C. files/folders for purposes of internal security. In her testimony she expressed the feeling that defendant by delivering the documents, writings, letters to his attorneys, subjected her to mental rape. The evidence is clear and the court finds that defendant and Omar Garrison had permission to utilize these documents for the purpose of Omar Garrison's proposed biography. The only other persons who were shown any of the documents were the defendant's attorneys, the Douglasses and Dincalcis, and apparently some document specifically affecting LRH's son "Nibs," were shown to "Nibs." The he Douglasses and Dincalcises were disaffected Scientologists who had a concern for their own safety and mental security, and were in much the same situation as the defendant, They had not been declared suppressive, but Scientology had their P.C. folders, as well as other confessions, and they were extremely apprehensive. They did not see very many of the documents, and it is not entirely clear which they saw. At any rate Mary Sue Hubbard did not appear to be so much distressed by this fact, as by the fact that Armstrong had given the documents to Michael Flynn, whom the Church considered its foremost lawyer-enemy.(Note5- " No, I think my emotional distress and upset is the fact that someone took papers and materials without my authorization and then gave them to your Mr. Flynn." However just as the plaintiffs have First Amendment rights, the defendant has a Constitutional right to an attorney of his own choosing. In legal contemplation this fact that defendant selected Mr. Flynn rather than some other lawyer cannot by itself be tortious. In determining whether the defendant unreasonably invaded Mrs. Hubbard's privacy, the court is satisfied the invasion was slight, and the reasons and justification for the defendants conduct manifest. Defendant was told by Scientology to get an attorney. He was declared an enemy by the Church. He believed, reasonably, that he was subject to "fair game." The only way he could defend himself, his integrity, and his wife was to take that which was available to him and place it in a safe harbor, to wit, his lawyer's custody. He may have indulged in overkill, in the sense that he took voluminous materials, some of which appear only marginally relevant to his defense. But he was not lawyer and cannot be held to that precise standard of judgment. Further , at the time that he was accumulating the material, he was terrified and undergoing severe emotional turmoil. The court is satisfied that he did not unreasonably intrude upon Mrs. Hubbard's privacy under the circumstances by in effect simply making his knowledge that of his attorneys. It is of course, rather ironic that the person who authorized G.O. 121669 should complain about invasion of privacy. The practice of culling supposedly confidential "P.C. folders or files" to obtain information for purposes of intimidation and or harassment is repugnant was no respector of anyone's civil rights, particularly that of privacy. Plaintiff Mary Sue Hubbard's cause of action for conversion must fail for the same reason as plaintiff Church. The documents were all together in Omar Garrison's possession. There was no way the defendant could make any distinction.
Insofar as the return of documents is concerned, matters which are still under seal may have evidentiary value in the trial of the cross complaint or in other third party litigation. By the time that proceedings on the cross complaint are concluded, the court's present feeling is that those document or objects not used by that time should be returned to the plaintiff. However the court will reserve jurisdiction to reconsider that should circumstances warrant.
Dated: June 20th 1984
Paul G. Breckenridge, Jr Judge of the Superior Court
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