I won't say I'm surprised at the decision to drop the criminal case. It looked likely ever since Dr. Wood reversed her verdict on the cause of Lisa McPherson's death. No matter how some critics have tried to spin it, there's no doubt that this genuinely is a major victory for Scientology. First, let's deal with the accusation that this was some sort of stitch- up between Scientology and the Floridan authorities, or some sort of political compromise prompted by it being election year. I am sure that this absolutely was not the case. The prosecutor has made it clear that he thought that a crime *had* been committed, and the state had already refused an attempt by Scientology to buy its way out of the trial. There is absolutely no doubt that the authorities were committed to the prosecution, as long as they had a reasonable chance of winning. If they don't have that chance then it's right and proper that the case should be abandoned; there's no point in wasting taxpayers' money on unwinnable cases. The reversal of Dr. Wood's verdict struck at the heart of the case. Let's be honest: the bottom line is that this was about the death of Lisa McPherson, not about the pseudo-medical treatment which she received beforehand and which was the subject of the charges. The case has, right from the start, been presented by both sides - critics and Scientology - as being about the death of Lisa. No manslaughter charges were brought, but the charges that *were* brought were effectively proxies for a manslaughter charge. All sides understood that and so would have the prospective jury. Had Scientology been convicted, it would have been convicted for unlawfully giving medical treatment to someone who subsequently died; the inference is obvious, even if it would not have been on the charge sheet. There *is* still a lot of evidence to support the contention that Lisa was unlawfully medically treated. Unfortunately the discrediting of the theory that that treatment caused her death has gravely damaged the rest of the case. The personal discrediting of the state's key witness, Dr. Wood, has caused just as much damage in its own right. Given the outcome of the case, I don't think there's much chance of it being revived in the future. The greatest loser on the state's side is Dr. Wood herself. Let's not rule out the possibility that she made a genuine mistake. From the comments of Crow and McCabe, though, there's no doubt at all that she and her colleagues were subjected to very heavy pressure from Scientology, culminating in the threat to expose things about her which would be very damaging. It's significant that the prosecutor highlighted this disturbing aspect to the press. His comments in the St Petersburg Times amounted to "we're dropping the case because Scientology has compromised our chief witness" - which in all probability is exactly what has happened. Threatening exposure of one's "crimes" is the central tenet of Scientology's notorious practice of "noisy investigation". I note that OSA's confidential operations documents state that a key aim of "noisy investigation" is to "de-power" the target - i.e. destroy the influence of the target to prevent him/her ever being a threat to Scientology again. Dr. Wood is sure to resign after this debacle; mission accomplished for OSA. Will the Feds take up the case? Not a chance. If it failed even to get into a State court, there's next to no chance that a Federal court will touch it. Scientology isn't the KKK and Florida isn't 1960s Alabama. Scientology is an extremely wealthy, quasi-respectable and politically well-connected organisation. With the Federal Government criticising other countries for acting against Scientology, there's not the remotest chance of the DoJ intervening domestically against the organisation. Of course, there's still the civil case launched by the McPherson family, which requires a far lower standard of proof (remember the OJ Simpson case). Unfortunately the outcome of the criminal case knocks the bottom out of the civil case. Scientology will now be free to switch all of its resources over to crushing the civil litigants - armies of lawyers, private investigators and dirty tricks are SOP for major OSA campaigns. Since Dr. Wood would have been an important witness in that case too, her discrediting will have a serious effect. Ken Dandar, the McPhersons' lawyer, will now be looking pretty carefully at his options. He has three: 1) Continue with a significantly weakened and now much riskier case; 2) Settle out of court with Scientology (this is what happened with many other victims, such as Paulette Cooper); 3) Drop the case altogether if no deal is forthcoming and the case is unwinnable. He's undoubtedly committed to the McPherson cause but he's also a professional lawyer, so he'll be giving serious thought to all of these options. If I was in his place, I'd probably recommend the second one as offering the best outcome at the least risk. I've described the outcome of this case as a victory for Scientology. It undoubtedly is that: Scientology won't now be criminally convicted (although of course it does hold this distinction (?) in Canada). Such a conviction would have done immense damage to the organisation, possibly worse than anything seen since the GO trials 20 years ago. In another sense, however, this is a less than desirable outcome. An acquittal in court would have been the best result for Scientology. As it is, it hasn't been absolved of acting illegally in this case - the prosecutor has made it very clear that the case has been dropped on a technicality. The allegations are still there even if the criminal litigation has gone away, and the way in which the case was terminated will provoke a lot of suspicion about what went on behind the scenes. Lisa McPherson will haunt Scientology for some time to come. Don't forget also that the case has already caused a great deal of bad PR for Scientology. The McPherson case has been reported around the world; it's unlikely that its termination will be reported anywhere near as widely. The dismissal of the case is another dark day in the history of the US legal system's relationship with Scientology; it confirms, not for the first time, that in the US it's difficult if not impossible for Scientology to be held legally responsible for its actions. The problem is not so much the US legal system itself. The problem is that the US is home base for Scientology, which means that it can deploy more money, manpower and political influence there than anywhere else in the world. Remember Hubbard saying "Be sure that [in the future] the orgs say what is legal"? Welcome to the future.