On Tue, 01 Oct 2002 04:59:58 GMT, [email protected] (Keith Henson) wrote:
>On Mon, 30 Sep 2002 01:22:27 GMT, [email protected] (Keith Henson)
>>Deja Vu--Bankruptcy Trial: Day One
>Block 2, Camino Real
Block 3, Camino Real (degraded from national highway)
As I begin my report this morning (Saturday, October 5) on the rest of Keith's bankruptcy trial, I see that there is a very cogent "Doonesbury" cartoon. A friend is asking Zonker for help. Zonker is the inveterate soul encapsulating forever the mentality associated with the 1960s in American culture.
The friend has been convicted of growing marijuana that had been sold to people with prescriptions under the California medical marijuana statute. Trumped by federal courts, this law is being nullified by convictions and sentences, including this cartoon version. Friend asks Zonker to be a character witness for him at his sentencing.
Zonker is enthusiastic and promises that he will "tell him how you've spent every MINUTE of the last decade working to ease the suffering of desperately ill people." The guy says, "Not good. That's what I was convicted of." (Shades of Hemet!) Zonker: "Oh, right. Okay, I'll talk up your tennis game."
Convicted of trying to help victims of disease? Hmmm. Why does this sound familiar?
Excuse me while I switch gears and throw the whole thing into reverse. Rewind. Hang onto your seats and be sure you have your seat belts fastened. You there in the back, use the handle or the strap. Never mind the kidnap victim in the trunk.
OK. There now. Garrison Keillor ritually begins his readings from his continuing saga with "It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon," although sometimes he varies the adjective. I would certainly have to change it this week.
I was on the stand from Monday through Wednesday. Monday was relatively easy. Stan Zlotoff, Keith's attorney, had quite properly asked me what I knew and when I knew it, what I thought I could testify to as the truth of my own personal knowledge. Quite properly again, he confined himself as best he could to those questions that supported his case and to which he believed I could truthfully and personally testify. So, except for objections at almost every single question of his, it was a cakewalk.
Tuesday and Wednesday were taken up with cross-examination by (in unison now) Samuel Rosen, L.L.P., litigation partner for Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, who handles "all the Henson cases" for the "Church" of $-ology. Oh, excuse me. Only for RTC. RTC alone. RTC has no affiliation with the "Church" of $-ology, by Rosen's reiterated representations in court as an officer of the court in answer to the judge's specific questions.
Oops, there I go again. Getting ahead of myself.
All right, rewind again. Hang on. Hey, get your finger off that fast-forward button, Kobrin. She did that while trying to rewind that scurrilous tape of Keith on the first day. Not familiar with VCRs, are we, Kobrin? Oh, yes, cast of characters. The usual: Rosen, Helena Kobrin (the belle of the OSA), Darlene Bright (OSA), Elaine Seid (local bankruptcy attorney being paid to coach Rosen in bankruptcy law as opposed to-when it dares to oppose--litigation procedures),
Warren McShane and two people whose names I don't know but whom I have dubbed "Fuzzhead" and "Fishface" for purposes of this narrative. That's the away team (*far* away and not human except for Seid's palpable greed that has to be her only reason for being here. She'd better have a good excuse before the World Court.). Our side? Stan, me, and (increasingly, as Rosen makes bitter enemies of them) maybe even the court clerks.
Judge Weissbrodt is making an almost superhuman and exhausting effort to keep the court from turning into the engine of pure vengeance and disrespect for law and order that Rosen and Kobrin and the other Hubbard minions are working to make of it. Unfortunately for all who still believe in American justice, it frequently devolves into shouting matches, Rosen's tantrums, and so on.
I don't have many notes from this day. Too much time on the stand being cut to ribbons by an ex-tobacco attorney who makes his living doing just this. He sets out to impeach my testimony and, while he is at it, reduce me to a blithering pulp. He introduces piece after piece of my incoherent and unremembered 2004 examinations by Kobrin, Alan Cartwright, Rosen and Warren McShane (Kobrin and Rosen as interrogators, Cartwright and McShane, jokers and degraders), starting in 1998.
Early on, the judge asks Rosen if he (the judge) has the whole examination. Rosen slides easily into his indignant injured party mask. "No. The questions relate to a document marked Exhibit 6." There is a lot of argument today about whether Rosen can introduce only fragments of my examination while questioning me on them, so that the context is unknown. This is one of $-ology's favorite tricks-one that they are, of course, constantly attributing to others-take it out of context and beat someone over the head with it.
Someone must have pored over these examinations for days, stayed up all night the night before, finding relevant passages from my previous depositions. Tomorrow my attorney will rebuke me for not reading over my previous depositions before taking the stand. But not only have I sent away all that paperwork (expecting, hoping to be in Canada by now resting and visiting Keith), but I wasn't able to afford to buy all the transcripts. In one instance, the price for a single transcript was $1,000. I paid for about $800 in transcripts of my own testimony, altogether, and that was lacking their exhibits (which equaled in volume the transcript of questions and answers).
My victory today is just this: I refuse to blither. I do hesitate, stutter, backtrack, get confused and probably make a fool of myself. The transcript will reflect the times when I just broke down and started saying, "I don't remember," because it was just too much effort to, as cross-examining attorneys ritually say, "cast my mind back." My mind is tired of being a stick for this dog.
Rosen continues to exhibit what is sometimes called "passive-aggressive" behavior directed at the judge. He explains that he doesn't have good hearing in his right ear (this may be why Kobrin is on his left, but I notice that sometimes Seid and Kobrin make a sandwich of him, whispering into both ears). So it is supposedly this problem only that urges him to continue making the same argument while the judge says, "I understand." And again, "I understand." And once again, "I understand."
Once when Weissbrodt makes a ruling, Rosen complains, "That's not the way it's done in Federal District Court." He makes these kinds of complaints continually; to denigrate the way the judge does things. This is a bankruptcy judge who has been on the bench for about as long as Keith and I have been married (20 years), and everyone I talk with who knows the San Jose and Northern District courts has nothing but praise for him.
On Monday I identified a bankruptcy schedule as having been done in Keith's handwriting, confused by the fact that there appeared to be different handwriting on different pages. Some of the handwriting is definitely Keith's, and I've seen very little of his hand since a year ago last May (we communicate almost solely by computer and telephone). Some of the numerals appear to have been gone over more than once (as if written in pencil and then in ink). I'm not used to his printing. To make matters worse, apparently I am remembering the circumstances under which he filled out an earlier draft form.
He claimed during one of his 2004 examinations that he had not filled out anything on this form at all. I'm sure that he just didn't remember what he had done, since some of the handwriting is definitely his. He tells me later that he was in Los Angeles during some of the time this form was filled out, so that would explain how, if it was filled out in LA as he remembers, his hand is evident in some places.
We want to bring Graham Berry up to testify about how it was filled out, since it was done in the offices in which he worked at the time, but Zlotoff calls Berry and Berry doesn't remember it. Typical. "The Tech Works," the "Tech" in this case being "overwhelm," the crude and diabolical art of stressing people beyond the point at which their memory and judgment disintegrate.
[I talked to Graham later. At the time he was still working for MPG. He had Ali Abdullah fill out most of the forms, partly from the draft Arel had seen me working on. Ali was a paralegal with bankruptcy experience. Later I added some numbers I did not have when I was working with Ali. HKH]
A lot is made of my inability to identify properly my own husband's handwriting. Rosen accuses me of making up the circumstances of the filling out of his form and conspiring with Zlotoff to tell what he says is a lie. Zlotoff points out that Rosen has not specified which schedule the circumstances refer to-the one made out in December, or the one filled out in January. I'm dismayed that Rosen is trying to impeach Zlotoff as well as me, but this is also a typical tactic. Get rid of any attorney who dares to oppose them.
I realize when Zlotoff brings up this earlier date that I have the wrong time in mind. I have tried to make it clear that my memory of this era of my life is hazy because I was under my own pressures, in the last few months of trying to finish my project and project report (the equivalent of a thesis) for my master's degree in library science. Anyone who has ever been a graduate student in the throes of the last months before graduation can sympathize. Well, add to that the stress of having Keith Henson for a husband.
(You know that last scene in "Spiderman" where he gives up his love of his sweetheart for "the great responsibility" of the service to humankind he has adopted? Well, think about what would have happened if he had confessed his love for her and they'd married and had kids. Add some years, make her plainer and Spiderman somewhat less athletic. He can't get a decent story out of the press, and the police are after him. Maybe I'm married to Spiderman.)
There is a lot of abusive questioning on this issue. At one point Zlotoff calls the tenor of the cross-examination "badgering." The judge agrees to the extent of saying that it is "on the point of badgering," but allows the questioning to continue. At another point Zlotoff and Rosen have gotten into the kind of adversarial exchange constantly provoked by Rosen and against which the judge has warned several times. He has to shout over their escalating voices to be heard, "Wait!" At that point, as if on cue, my cell phone goes off in my purse at Zlotoff's table. I apologize, confess to my crime of forgetting to turn it off, and the judge is kind. He allows me to go turn it off. He warns others to turn theirs off. But it has served to defuse the burning explosive situation in his court.
I try to insert the truth whenever I can. Rosen does not appreciate this. He says, "I will ignore the snide remark" and asks permission to approach the witness. He does and hands me a document. I don't like being within 3 feet of this man, who has threatened Berry, persecuted and prosecuted my husband, intimidated judges, attorneys (including my previous attorneys) and made himself obnoxious (his job) everywhere I've seen him. I bristle at his approach but say nothing and take the document.
There is some more impeachment as against my previous testimony in 2004 examinations.
Oh-oh. He's seen me. I'm taking notes while on the stand on the pad of legal yellow lined paper provided, using the pen here "What's that you're writing?" he nearly screams. "Let me see that!" and launches himself toward the witness stand like a bull elephant charging on the veldt. He is halfway across the courtroom before the judge manages to stops him. Always mindful of the transcript, Rosen says, "Let the record reflect she's writing."
Zlotoff is on his feet of course, and the judge is soon rebuking the fulminating Rosen. "Even if you claimed you had the right to have her dump out the contents of her purse on the floor, I might let you, but you would have to justify it!" During the ensuing argument I make further notes, put my head on my fist and chill out. I have torn the offending page from the pad, awaiting the judge's ruling as to its fate. Finally Zlotoff says, "Why don't we ask Ms. Lucas if she has any objection to allowing counsel to see her notes?" The judge looks at me. I don't actually have any objection. The judge declares a break and warns, "I alert everybody in the courtroom" to be on their best behavior.
As directed, I hand the note to the clerk, who gives it to Rosen. I leave the witness box and start walking past Zlotoff's table, which is on the jury-box side of the courtroom. Across from him I can see Rosen showing the note to Kobrin. I decide to stand my ground. "I don't want you to show that note to Ms. Kobrin."
"Why not, she's my co-counsel?"
"Ms. Kobrin is an OSA staffer, an employee of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs. I don't want my private notes shown to her." I point out that all the people on that side of the courtroom are OSA with the exception of him and Ms. Seid and that there is a protective order on my behalf to guard my privacy.
Rosen pretends to be deeply offended. He says that he is so offended that he will refuse to read the notes himself. He is sulking. He has probably already determined that the notes are of no value, since he doesn't pursue his previous accusation that they represent some conspiracy between my husband's attorney and me. He says that as soon as the judge returns he will report my behavior and place the incident on record. My response: "Please do!"
He hands the page to Zlotoff, who says he doesn't know what to do with it, but then comes to the conclusion that it should be given to the mysterious man in the jury box, who has been taking notes on a similar yellow pad. As Stan surrenders my paper, I confront jury-box man: "Who are you?" He and Stan exchange a look and a giggle. He is the judge's clerk (not a court clerk, the judge's own man). Stan says he will verify the man's identity. I say, "OK, just as long as you're not OSA." At this point it seems to me that nearly everyone in the courtroom is OSA. (Objectively, of the 14 people in the courtroom, I believe 4-5 are OSA.)
When the judge comes back, Rosen stays on his feet and reports what he no doubt considers to be my misconduct. There is more argument on all sides, during which I rest in the witness stand, taking more notes. By this time there are 2 pages in question. When there is a lull in the storm, I ask His Honor if I may state why I did not want Ms. Kobrin to read my notes. The judge grants me the very great privilege of truth-telling while under oath on the stand. I say deliberately into the microphone: "Ms. Kobrin is an employee of the Office of Special Affairs, the terrorist wing of the 'Church' of Scientology. There is a protective order of this court not to let scientologists see my private affairs."
I don't know how much of that reached the record. Rosen is of course on his feet yelling, "I move to strike it. It is an outrageous allegation." He gets in at least one more repetition of "outrageous." The judge is nevertheless looking at Rosen and Kobrin and expecting them to justify themselves. Kobrin says that her paycheck comes from Moxon and Kobrin, a law firm (an acceptable truth-no doubt all those Enron corporations that were fronts, and every other front ever created had its letterhead and its imprinted checks). McShane has already denied any knowledge of the existence of OSA-this is easy. Put your TR-L in, that's all.
Rosen denies that RTC is in any way related to the "Church" of Scientology. "There is no related organization [to RTC]. It has no parent, no affiliated organization." I'm sure this is technically true of each of the 150 global corporations of which Miscavige is the real head. Scientology corporations are all legally separate, set up that way to protect each from the transgressions, lawsuits and so on of any other. Another acceptable truth. McShane was on the stand Friday stating that RTC's sole mission is to "protect the scriptures" of Scientology. But it has no affiliation with Scientology. Of course not. How could I be so malicious as to think so?
The judge asks Rosen twice if he represents that RTC has no affiliation with the "Church." As an officer of the court, Rosen affirms this assertion.
OK. Now Rosen has controlled the transcript. There is only the question of what are now two pieces of yellow lined notepad paper scribbled on in my most illegible handwriting. The judge turns to me. I request that they be sealed. "We'll put that under seal," the judge says. A further quandary. Whose exhibit is it? After some interminable discussion, it becomes "The Court's Exhibit 1." The judge wants to make sure that I understand he might have to unseal the notes during appeal or other action. It is certain that they will appeal any ruling that they don't like. That's OK with me. My notes do not contain any atomic secrets.
Then the questions get rougher. They start a new line. When Zlotoff objects (and of course Rosen has objected throughout to Zlotoff's objections because Zlotoff is not my attorney), Rosen says, "I believe there is grounds for [Ms. Lucas's] not [being] entitled to any part of the proceeds from the sale of the house."
Somewhere in here the judge asks me to leave the witness stand and the courtroom. He stops any questions about address, joint tenancy or any "tangentially related" line of cross-examination. I am out for about 10 minutes while they argue. When I am called back in, I resume the witness stand and the judge tells me "Mr. Rosen has stated his intent to try to prove that you are not a valid joint tenant. Some of the questions he may ask [may relate to this]. Therefore you may consider asking an attorney to represent you at that. Now you are going to have to do that very promptly because [I'm holding up cross examination on this issue]."
The judge and Zlotoff will try to stop anything they perceive related to that issue. They have seen that every time Rosen sets a trap for me, I fall into it like a wild animal in the forest stepping on a thin cover of branches over a hole in the ground. I know it too, but I simply can't anticipate the moves of a seasoned litigation attorney bent on tearing me to shreds. He said to Zlotoff early in the trial that Zlotoff could anticipate his asking all the questions a 3rd-year law student would ask, putting down both Zlotoff and me thereby.
I haven't been exactly ordered to get an attorney, but when a judge tells you it's a damn good idea to get one, you'd better git.
There is a comic moment. Zlotoff has listened continually to a certain kind of argument from Rosen. When Zlotoff ostentatiously makes the same argument in almost the same words, Rosen, already on his feet, turns to Zlotoff and makes an elaborate bow, then laughs. It is 4:15. The consensus is that the trial may continue "more usefully tomorrow morning." Rosen isn't sure he can "fill up the morning" without continuing the forbidden line of questioning. I must have an attorney here with me by 1:15 to 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.
As I leave, I hand my precious, now 3, papers to the court clerk for copying. Then I forget to pick them up. I talk a little with Zlotoff, trying to understand what is going on. Then we head downstairs. He is toting the usual 2 boxes of essential papers. As we exit the building, a pride of the away team is lying in wait at the entrance, where Rosen tends to satisfy his nicotine addiction. Rosen & Kobrin et al accost Zlotoff. I continue walking. I never get within 3 feet of Rosen if I can help it. At the streetcar stop I'm talking with Keith on the phone when I feel my right contact lens go out of place. I can't tell whether it is still in my eye, but assume it is. Then I remember the yellow notes and return to the building, only to find it locked up, everybody gone. I will have to retrieve my precious sealed papers the following day. As I return to the streetcar stop I realize I cannot feel the lens in my eye.
As it turns out, despite the considerable time I put into searching the area where I lost it (in a wind, outside, in dirt and with people around), and then dumping out my purse (as the judge said) and bag at my house later, I perceive that the lens is gone. And my right eye is the worse one, too. I'm using an old lens and still fighting the vision problem, hoping I can get a lens. Perhaps I will ask for it as a birthday present.
I start making calls immediately, overloading my already overloaded cell minutes (at 35 cents a minute).
(Note: all my quotations are from memory and will be corrected by the transcript to come. They are my best recollection at this time.)
To Be Continued (remember this point-Pauline has already fallen off the cliff)