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Notes on Thomas Mesereau and the Preliminary Criminal Trial of His Client Danny Masterson

Shoop of Thomas Mesereau by the amazing Observer at the Underground Bunker

Tony Ortega reported today that Danny Masterson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau served him with a subpoena in court. Tony commented on this today at the Underground Bunker:

Then we took the morning break, and your proprietor was served a subpoena. It was from Tom Mesereau, asking us for a bunch of documents and scheduled for a hearing in June. We have talked to two attorneys who both tell us they will help us craft a response to quash the subpoena and assert a reporter’s privilege.

But gosh, it’s nice to know that Tom cares.

Yashar Ali tweeted on this:

We are unsurprised that Thomas Mesereau would seek to silence Tony Ortega on behalf of his client and the Church of Scientology. Mesereau has always tried to control the messaging during his high-profile trials. But this attempt is a clear fascist-style overreach by Mesereau.

Thomas Mesereau has attempted to make his client Danny Masterson’s preliminary criminal trial about everything else except the criminal charges his client. Mesereau has said the case was politically motivated by the election race for LA District Attorney between then LA DA Jackie Lacey and George Gascon. Masterson then blamed Leah Remini. He is now trying to say that Tony Ortega suddenly has something to do with Danny Masterson being criminally charged.

Thomas Mesereau bizarrely introduced L. Ron Hubbard’s infamous book on Scientology ethics into Masterson’s prelim. We say bizarre because “Ethics” in Scientology is fundamentally about obstructing justice, cover ups, lies, and never reporting another Scientologist to the police. Mesereau produced the book in order to challenge one of Masterson’s victims on a point of Scientology practice.

This book forms a damning self-indictment against Scientology and proves what Masterson’s victims have said about being threatened by Scientology after Masterson raped them and they reported him to Church authorities.

Underground Bunker commenters and lawyers TX Lawyer and t1kk discussed Mesereau’s incompetent use of the Scientology Ethics book in the comments section today:

TX Lawyer
I haven’t been doing a lot of commenting on this, but since Tony gave me a shout-out in his opening sentence . . .

First of all, Tony is doing incredible work on this, really capturing the dynamics of the courtroom. Big round of applause for the Proprietor.

Second, there is no way this case fails to get past the preliminary hearing phase. All the prosecutors have to do is convince the judge they have adequate evidence of the rapes so that the jury could determine to convict. It doesn’t much matter if there are open questions or credibility issues here and there, so long as they’re not overwhelming. Nothing like that is remotely present here.

Third, I have no problem believing JD1 or JD3. Their testimony seems quite believable and consistent with one another. Whether a jury will believe them sufficiently to convict beyond a reasonable doubt is a different question. It doesn’t sound like Mesereau laid a finger on JD1. JD3 presents some opportunities for the defense, given that she admits she did not believe, for more than a decade, that she had been raped. If she didn’t believe she had been raped for so long, it’s not hard to imagine one or more jurors concluding that’s enough for them to have reasonable doubt too. That said, the defendant’s apparent pattern and practice lends JD3 a lot of credibility. I doubt any of these charges would have been brought without each woman’s story lending credence to the other.

Finally, the role of Scientology in all this is going to be key. In general, I think Mesereau trips all over himself when he tries to challenge the Does on Scientology doctrine. He’s better off ignoring the women’s “religion” pretty much altogether. The prosecution needs to show that they were coerced, threatened, and cajoled into staying silent. The defense needs to show they were fully functional and conscious* adults who decided for themselves, for many years, that they had not been raped. Playing on the field of Scientology mostly undermines that defense task.

*ETA: That’s an incredibly poor choice of words on my part, given the allegations that Masterson drugged his victims into unconsciousness. Hope my intent was clear, however.

I think you’re definitely right, that if this was going to fail to get past the preliminary hearing phase, that much would’ve been obvious by now and would have been because the witnesses fell apart completely on the stand, which doesn’t appear to be the case.

I think the Scientology content can possibly cut in different directions. On the one hand, it really does help explain why the victims waited so long. Mesereau challenging one witness to find a reference to a particular Scientology policy to defend her assertion surprised me because Scientology has argued to the death in other arenas that such inquiry is impermissible as a first amendment matter, which argument they’d surely employ if the judge did consider Scientology policy as a basis for her ruling. Which makes me wonder whether Mesereau was dangling it out there for that purpose, far down the road perhaps, or whether he that was client servicing, i.e., finding time to defend the real client, the church. I think the judge is sharp enough to know where those landmines lie though.

TX Lawyer

Mesereau challenging one witness to find a reference to a particular Scientology policy to defend her assertion surprised me because Scientology has argued to the death in other arenas that such inquiry is impermissible as a first amendment matter, which argument they’d surely employ if the judge did consider Scientology policy as a basis for her ruling.

The legal difference is that the church’s policy isn’t on trial here. It’s permissible to use church materials to impeach a witness. What the First Amendment prohibits is a court inquiring into the validity of, or otherwise interfering with, a church’s doctrines.

Mark Foster
“Use church materials to impeach a witness”…Huh, is that what he was attempting to do? If she doesn’t know the exact policy or “scripture” that dictates not reporting her rape, does that make her appear less credible? It seems to me that the EXISTENCE of such a policy would be way more startling to a jury than her inability to remember exactly what scientology book contains said policy…
Just wondering…

TX Lawyer

“Use church materials to impeach a witness”…Huh, is that what he was attempting to do?

Yes, very much so. She testified that she waited so long to report because (in part) Church policy is not to snitch on other Scientologists to the police. Mesereau then tried to show that was not true by demonstrating that she couldn’t find such a policy in a book where that policy never resided. It was bad courtroom lawyering, but it was definitely attempted impeachment.

My thought is that he knew that the supporting text wasn’t in the book she thought it was, and that episode was an attempt to cast doubt upon her credibility as a witness.

It seems to me that his approach is to create doubt about the testimony and evidence in the minds of jurors. It’s a approach that has worked for him in cases where the accused has no chance otherwise.

She couldn’t find the policy, so that will be his line of attack when it is argued that Scientology was responsible for things like the delay. He won’t address that, but try to make them look as if they the victims are using this as an excuse, by showing they are wrong about the details.

Hand-waving, to distract from the facts…

TX Lawyer
Yes, that was the purpose of the book stunt. But it’s just bad lawyering because the policy clearly exists elsewhere, and Mesereau just ends up looking like an ass when the prosecution comes back with a copy and has it entered into evidence.

Mesereau seems to have handed the prosecution a strategic legal advantage by introducing this book into the proceeding. Prosecutor Reinhold Mueller introduced the book into the record as an exhibit.

Scientology boss David Miscavige had to have been furious to see such an incriminating Scientology book introduced as evidence.

When asked by the Los Angeles Times if the Church of Scientology had a policy which prohibits Scientologists from reporting other Scientologists to the police for criminal activity, Church spokesperson Karin Pouw responded with a blatant lie:

Scientology does not “appropriately report criminal behavior.” If it did, David Miscavige and a few of his lawyers would be in prison.

As we stated, Karin Pouw is engaging in a blatant lie. We covered the matter of Scientology and the Police in our article of October 22, 2020: Cover Ups: Why the Church of Scientology Will Not Report Felonies Committed By Its Members to the Police or any Government Agency

L. Ron Hubbard wrote of Scientology’s infamous Johannesburg Security Check:

This is the roughest Confessional list in Scientology. We will call it the “Joburg Confessional.” It does not necessarily replace other Confessional lists but it is probably the most thorough one we have now.

The Jo’Burg Sec Check introductory statement is read to the Scientologist who is being interrogated on the e-meter. The introductory statement incorporates obstruction of justice as a doctrinal tenet of the Church of Scientology (emphasis ours):

“I am not auditing you. We are about to begin an HCO Confessional. We are not moralists. We are able to change people. We are not here to condemn them. While we cannot guarantee you that matters revealed in this list will be held forever secret, we can promise you faithfully that no part of it nor any answer you make here will be given to the police or the state. No Scientologist will ever bear witness against you in court by reason of answers to this Confessional. This Confessional is exclusively for Scientology purposes. The only ways you can fail this Confessional are to refuse to take the test, to fail to answer its questions truthfully or if you are here knowingly to injure Scientology. The only penalty attached to failure of this Confessional is our refusal to employ you or issue a certificate, and this will only happen if we find that you are trying knowingly to injure Scientology. You can pass this test by (1) agreeing to take it, (2) answering each question truthfully and (3) by not being a member of a subversive group seeking to injure Scientology.

Per the policy of L. Ron Hubbard — and this policy serves as Scientology scripture — all crimes including murder, rape, child molestation, financial felonies, and every other felony to which a Scientologist confesses will not be shared with the police, the State, the taxing authorities, or any other law enforcement or government agency. This is a damning indictment of the Church of Scientology and its culture of cover ups, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Fair Game.

Former Scientologist and Narconon executive Lucas Catton on the preliminary trial of Danny Masterson and what it might mean for the Church of Scientology:

Danny Masterson made a horrendously tone-deaf post on Instagram as he arrived for the first day of court. Why did Thomas Mesereau fail to forbid his client to post on social media during the critical preliminary criminal trial?

If a person did not know that Bijou Philips is Danny Masterson’s wife, then this Instagram post comes across as alleged serial rapist Danny Masterson talking about the female Uber driver who drove him to his rape trial.

Masterson’s Instagram drew scathing and derisive replies on Twitter:

Uh, maybe don’t mention things like noticing attractive women…on the way to your rape trial? 🙈 Just putting that out there.

2 replies »

  1. The defence for Danny asking for Scientology “policy”, the very same Scientology Ethics Book contains also the “Knowledge Reports” writing by Hubbard. In that writing is the “black eye” punishment that staff are to give to fellow staff when they discover one staffer who is “sticking pins” in fellow staff.

    So, within Hubbard’s writings, even more clearly, in “Knowledge Reports” sub writing, is the implication that staff are deemed “in ethics” (doing the right thing) if black eyes happen to fellow staff who are “sticking pins” in their fellow staff.

    Also, there is the unpublished Hubbard 1982 order “…if you see WDC SMI spit on him for me…” which was interpreted literally by Miscavige and multiple persons witnessed both spitting and punching delivered by Miscavige against John Aczel who was WDC SMI at that moment of this Hubbard order.

    Hubbard’s orders and policies have been taken literally, and when I called Riverside County Sheriff’s department, spoke with two women officers in the two calls I made to them, they both stated this incident sounded like “misdemeanor battery” and not a felony. The one officer said they likely wouldn’t do anything if given this report of that level of slugging battery but that anyone receiving it might wish to get a lawyer but don’t hold their breath,

    That incensed me, and I have just then wished to do a full history of the self to self violence that Scientology causes their members due to Hubbard’s policy, and just lay it out.

    Maybe there will be future case openings to take this Hubbard doctrinal caused “misdemeanor battery” events into some court cases and get it stopped.

    Hubbard’s policies need way more in depth history laying out the negative effects.

    I just hope this gets noticed, and some new generation Scientologists get inspired to complain to health officials and police, of any future self caused “battery” that happens due to Hubbard’s doctrines that the Scientologists think they must execute on one another to fulfil their staff duties and membership duties.

  2. I’m still baffled by Mesereau bringing up the don’t-report policy. On day one he tries to keep the cult angle out but then he opens the door to THIS? (And that wasn’t even the only time he went there).

    As an impeachment angle, it’s laughable. Christians to a person believe in the Trinity. But good luck getting a Christian rape survivor under the stress of participating in a criminal trial to point out the relevant Bible passages. To what end? To show that they don’t really believe in the Trinity?

    And despite being a sizable book, the Bible doesn’t even begin to approach in word count the verbal diarrhea that is scientology “scriptures.” Or the sheer jumble of their policies which makes them no less obligatory.

    Mesereau is sure to lose the “why did you wait 20 years” battle. Between the healing process needed to get a victim ready to call a rape a “rape”, the cult’s policies, prohibitions and obstruction-of-justice interventions and the interminable time this languished in the offices of various bureaucracies, the overall delay is no mystery. The only mystery is why Mesereau had to fire the first shot in this battle and squarely direct it at himself.

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