The Scientology Money Project

Court Reporting: Our Notes on Scientologist Danny Masterson’s Court Hearing of October 19, 2020

By Jeffrey Augustine

October 19, 2020: I attended the hearing this morning at the Downtown Los Angeles Criminal Court on the demurrer filed by Danny Masterson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau. In his demurrer, Mesereau sought to get the three forcible rapes charges against Masterson dismissed based upon the statute of limitations.

Judge Eleanor Hunter overruled both the demurrer and Mesereau’s motion for an evidentiary hearing.

The criminal trial against Danny Masterson will proceed to the arraignment and then the preliminary criminal trial. The arraignment is calendared for November 2, 2020.

Tony Ortega has taken the lead on the Masterson rape case and civil lawsuits for several years now. Leah Remini brought a great deal of attention to the case being slow-rolled in the LA District Attorney’s Office. But now the story has gone viral. Tony Ortega’s coverage of the court hearing today.

Other news coverage of the Masterson hearing today:
Daily Mail
The New York Times
Los Angeles Times
ABC News
People Magazine 
Variety’s coverage
Hollywood Reporter
New York Daily News
A.V. Club
KKTV Los Angeles
Law and Crime: Watch the Live Stream
USA Today
Consequences of Sound
The Mercury News
LA Daily News
Fox 11 LA

My notes on what went on today:

A very intense morning in court. Much more media than last time. We were all able to sit in the courtroom as Defendant Masterson was not there with Billy Baldwin and the rest of his entourage.

For a better understanding of the technical legal issues that were argued, please see my previous blog post on the specific laws and the two cases cited which explain why Danny Masterson is facing life in prison if he is convicted.

1. Thomas Mesereau’s co-counsel Sharon Appelbaum argued to the court, and I found it incredulous that she would even go there, that if the Masterson case was allowed to go forward it would only encourage other groups of women to wait 10 or 15 years to file these types of cases. I was quite shocked that Applebaum would say this in open court. The California state legislature wrote the powerful One Strike law under which Masterson has been charged because it recognized that victims of rape who have been threatened, or worse, whose rapes have been covered up by churches, employers, etc., need time to heal from the trauma, fear, and face the intimidation and threats by asking for justice in California’s courts. California’s Governor signed these stern legislative bills into law for the same reason.

1A. Sharon Applebaum seemed to be arguing that it was not fair to men to be accused of rape so long after the alleged rapes occurred. Applebaum was, in our view, implying that women who waited so long to file rape charges were opportunists who would clog the courts with old cases. Applebaum will be a disaster in front of any jury if she pursues this line of argument.

2. The California state legislature also removed the statute of limitations from multiple victim violent crimes such as forcible rape. The legislature further removed the statute of limitations from crimes that carry a life sentence as does forcible rape. These bills were signed into law for the same reasons: To punish violent first time offenders as well as recidivists.

2A. Danny Masterson is charged as a first time violent sex offender with a multiple victims enhancement. This is why he is facing life in prison. Under California law, there is no statute of limitations for the charges filed against Masterson.

3. Mesereau argued that the rulings in the Turner and Perez cases had contradictory sentencing theories which had not been ruled on, or reconciled by, the California Supreme Court. Mesereau then concluded, in what we saw as a non-sequitur fashion, that the charges against Masterson should be dismissed. Judge Hunter responded by clearly explaining and differentiating between the Perez and Turner cases. In doing so, she swept aside Mesereau’s argument.

4. Based upon her careful and meticulous analysis, Judge Hunter dismissed Masterson’s demurrer and his motion for an evidentiary hearing. She is an impressive Judge with a powerful and concise legal mind.

5. It was gratifying to see Judge Hunter rule based upon the intent of the California state legislature and existing case law. This is how the judicial system is supposed to work.

                             Judge Eleanor Hunter

6. Thomas Mesereau has twice now asked for the media to be excluded from the case. Mesereau began this morning by saying to the court, “As you know, there is a great deal of media coverage on this case out there and some of it is false…” Judge Hunter replied, “You say there is a great deal of media coverage but I don’t know that. The public has a right to hear this case. Motion overruled.”

7. It is clear that the Church of Scientology and Defendant Masterson do not want media coverage. Unlike Scientology’s sham arbitration that is conducted in secrecy, Defendant Masterson will be tried publicly with media in attendance.

8. Scientology’s Celebrity Centre, OSA, and RTC knew about Masterson’s alleged multiple rapes when they were happening. Rather than doing the right thing and expelling Masterson and reporting the rapes to LAPD, Scientology covered it up and threatened and punished Masterson’s multiple victims. Little did Scientology and Masterson know that they were sealing their own doom in the future.

9. David Miscavige licenses CSI. CSI, in turn, licences Celebrity Centre. I’d like to see David Miscavige called to testify under oath in the Masterson case and asked why he didn’t handle the multiple rape situation with his licensees. It is Miscavige’s charge as “the protector of the Scientology religion” to ensure that felonious conduct does not occur in Scientology. The actions of RTC in failing to police OSA Legal (CSI) and CC have now placed the entire Church of Scientology into the harsh media glare of Danny Masterson’s upcoming criminal trial for multiple rapes.

10. One of the reporters I talked to told me that Taryn Manning, Ashton Kutcher, and Danny Masterson run together, i.e. they are friends. This explains Taryn Manning’s message in support of Masterson. Good luck on that Taryn. You should have come to court this morning in LA and then decided if you wanted to so publicly support Danny Masterson, a man charged with three counts of forcible rape. It would have been much more prudent for Taryn Manning to dial it back and write, “Danny will get his day in court.”

11. Thomas Mesereau looked deflated after his loss this morning. IMO, he is a dinosaur and his day in the sun is over. He cannot fight the potent new laws that protect rape victims. Mesereau made his name in a bygone era that had very weak laws. Mesereau lost the Cosby case. I predict he will lose the Masterson case as well.

12. My big question: Will Danny Masterson take the stand in his upcoming criminal trial? This is the most difficult decision Mesereau and his client will have to make.

13. After dismissing the demurrer without prejudice, the court told Mr. Mesereau that his client has the right to a speedy arraignment. The Judge asked Mesereau if his client wanted a speedy arraignment and wanted to enter a plea today.

14. Mesereau waived Masterson’s right to a speedy arraignment and this got Masterson an extra ten days. Masterson’s arraignment is scheduled for November 2, 2020.

15. Danny Masterson also signed a California 977(b) waiver. This is a waiver of personal appearance. Masterson authorized his attorney to appear on his behalf. However, Masterson must appear when ordered to do so by the court and at other fundamental proceedings. For example, as a lawyer explained it to me, Masterson will have to appear at his preliminary trial.

16. There are risks to a defendant by not appearing each and every time court is in session. For example, his or her attorney could forget details and botch a cross examination. One would think a defendant would have their own self-preservation in mind and want to be present everyday of the trial to strategize with their attorney and remind them of details. Masterson has elected not to do so.

The Daily Mail headline:

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