A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

Discussion in 'Leaks & Legal' started by MartinJDAnon, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    1. What is the line between beliefs and illegal activity? If a groups belief system is illegal are they still constitutionally protected? Are they still allowed classification of being called a religion?
    2. If a persons belief system is manipulated by a process created by a group leader then are the members beliefs seen as of free will and therefore does the groups belief system constitute being a bona-fide religion?
  2. tazor Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    In case you hadn't noticed, the lawyer that started this thread hasn't been around in like forever.

    Maybe somebody can take a stab at your questions though.
  3. Scotschic Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    I have two question for the Lawyer, if he comes back!

    Filming, taking Photographsof Protestors.

    Is there any laws that states, it is against Law for Scientologist members filming or taken photographs of teenagers who under the age of 16? Without thier consent. Or do you they only need to police's agreement to do so? If there is laws against this, waht can be done to have it stopped?

    My 2nd qustion is, would it not be beneficial to Protestors to have at least one civil righs lawer present at thier protests. Thay way the lawyer can advise them on any Arrest threats from the Police, or from any scientology member?

    Thanks in advance.
  4. fisherman Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    isupeonedDavidmiscaviage wrote:

    The line is performance of an illegal act. It's legal to believe whatever you want. It's illegal to act unlawfully. Many people believe marijuana should be sold legally. They're perfectly entitled to believe that. But, if they act on that belief and start selling marijauna, those actions would be illegal.

    Claiming that an illegal act is "religious" doesn't make it legal. A religious group that believes in marijuana, cannot legally use marijuana in a ceremony, claiming that it's 'part of free religiion' and protected under the constitution.

    Yes. More accurately, a "belief system" cannot, by itself, be illegal. A group's right to believe whatever they believe, is protected and cannot be discriminated against. But again, the Constitution does not 'give permission' for religions to break the law. You can believe in cannibalism, sing songs about cannibalism, gather with other cannabibalists and share recipes -- but you can't eat people!

    In the U.S. religions are 'self defining' -- if you start a "church of cannabilism", get a few members together, and call it a religion -- it is a religion. Your new religion would be protected against discrimination under the Constitutional. If you hold Sunday services dancing around an enormous iron pot of chicken stew chanting, "the bird is anthropomophically made man" -- no-one can interfere with your religious practice. It they do, you can call the cops and feed them lunch.

    Whether your 'Church of Cannibals' can attain tax exempt status, to subsidize iron pots and long handled spoons, is entirely up to IRS. I'm not familiar with the petitioning process, but, this is seperate trom the Constitutional issue. The Constitutional right to freely practice your religion does not automatically include public subsidy for your religion.

    How someone arrives at their religious convictions has no bearing on their Constitutional protection. No State or Federal law regulates whether a religion is 'bona-fide'. There's no 'pass-fail' test of religious credibility.

    Frankly, that's what the Constitution prevents under the "Establishment Clause" -- the government MAY NOT decide whether a religion is 'bona-fide'. You are free to establish the 'Church of Canabils' and worship as you see fit, just so long as you don't eat people.

    This is why Scientology's 'claim to fame' that they are 'recognized as a religion' by the U.S. Government is so totally bogus. Of course they're recognized. The Constitution 'recognizes' the rights of every religion -- even the 'Church of Cannibals'.

    Tax exemption is entirely different. But, Constitutionally, tax exemption is NOT what makes a religion.

    IANAL, fisherman
  5. fisherman Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Scotschic, wrote:

    A wise old friend once gave me this advice, "If you're not doing harm, you're almost certainly not doing anything illegal."

    We hear so much about liability suits, that we've started to think that there are laws regulating every possible conduct, but this is not the case. For example: there are no laws regulating how to use a potato. But, it is illegal to bash someone in the head. If you bash someone in the head with a potato - you broke the 'head bashing' law - not the 'potato law'.

    You're question about photos is a good one, because of concerns about pictures of minors used indecently, photoshopped, etc. From a legal standpoint, it's like the 'potato'. It's not illegal to take pictures of minors, it's illegal to use those pictures unlawfully.

    Of course, good manners and cognizance of the situation come into play. Taking pictures of a crowd at a ballpark that includes kids, is different from taking pictures of a playground, where parents are standing by. I would certainly ask permission in the second example.

    In my state, (and most states, so far as I can tell) it's not illegal to take pictures of anyone or anything in public view. That includes minors. It's illegal to use pictures unlawfully by selling them commercially without a release, or using them to traffic in child pornogrpahy. Like the potato example, taking the pictures is not illegal, it's the other activities that are.

    That said, some states may be trying to 'fudge' with statutes covering 'school children', 'school playgrounds' etc. I can't think of any legal precedent that could be used to deny someone from taking pictures of kids on a public street, in a public park, or any public place.

    You do not need permission from a police officer to take pictures of anything in public view. While a police officer may request that you limit any activity in the interest of keeping the peace, they cannot 'make law' on the spot and demand you not take pictures of "X".

    The day we need an advisory civil rights lawyer to attend protests is the day you can rip up the Constitution. I suspect you're thinking pragmatically and I know "where you're coming from" -- but this just hit me a certain way.

    ianal, fisherman
  6. Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    I don't know if this applies to this situation, but very few people are aware of this loophole you could drive a bus full of Sea Org members through.

  7. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    The entire response is pretty much dead-on (and concise and impressive for a non-lawyer), but I want to single out the above-snipped paragraph to expand on the basis used by the IRS to determine whether an entity in question is a "church" (which differs from "religion").

    Section 501(c)(3) of the US tax code extends exempt status to "[c]orporations … or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes...."

    The IRS has stated guidelines to determine whether an organization maintains a religious purpose, namely that: (1) the beliefs of the organization are "truly and sincerely held,” and that (2) the practices associated with the organization’s beliefs are not "illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy." Crudely restated, a qualifying religious organization must not be a sham, and its conduct must be lawful.

    I think a good argument could be made that many of the practices of Church of Scientology are "illegal and/or contrary to clearly defined public policy," although proving as much in court is difficult, and gaining "standing" to do so even more difficult (for reasons I've stated elsewhere on this board numerous times).
  8. Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Fisherman, thank you so much for your reply. I only have one query in regards to the above.

    If someone feels they have good cause to believe that their belief system has been manipulated by deceptive means by a religion, is this illegal by the law? Can they proceed with prosecution? Do they have a case?
  9. determu Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    in the Riverside area seeing as i speak i need to know the about pat downs and frisking

    detainment and questioning.

    So i want to know inside of a government building are their different rules for patting someone down?

    Can they do a "random" search on me?

    if a sheriff wanted to could he detain me for 24-48 hours for "questioning" and if so what would he need to prove?

    If i didn't carry ID how long can they hold me until they "find my identity" ?
  10. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    I'm not clear exactly what you're asking, but there's no crime or cause of action that protects one's belief system from being manipulated by a religion. One's belief system is never protected by the law--only religious practices based on sincere religious beliefs are protected--and furthermore, courts are constitutionally prohibited from taking sides in religious disputes.

    In case you're asking a more general question about whether a cause of action exists for "brainwashing," the basic answer is no.
  11. Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Basically what I'm asking is: Is deception a crime? For instance if a salesperson leaves out certain information on a product and that product is faulty then has a crime been committed? If that product then endangers your life can you sue? Can police be asked to charge people/management that use such deceptive practices?

    If so then in relation to the current CO$ practices there are ample cases and currently ongoing practices that do just do that.

    i think Fishman should answer this one.
  12. WTF Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    If you are not taken along with "the rapture" will you hire a junk yard dog attorney?
  13. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Strange question, but the answer is that Fourth Amendment protections do not disappear once inside a government building. That said, by entering into certain buildings you implicitly consent to be searched (the basis being safety), but only upon entering the building. After that your reasonable expectation of privacy kicks in, and a warrant to conduct a search of your person is required.

    There are exceptions to the warrant requirement, which are varied and complex, but it's sufficient to say that a police officer may stop and frisk you only upon their "reasonable suspicion" that you are engaged in criminal activity. The purpose of the frisk is not to discover evidence of a crime, but to allow the police a reasonable opportunity to pursue questioning without fear of violence (however, if during the frisk for weapons the officer immediately recognized drugs or a gun by their "plain feel" then the evidence may be used against you). The reasonable suspicion must somehow elevate to "probable cause" before you can be arrested, which elevation could occur in the course of questioning if circumstances warrant.
  14. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Apologies in advance for not being Fishman. I'm only a lawyer, but I'll take a stab at your question anyway.

    Deception is a crime when it rises to the level of fraud, which is basically a deception that results in injury (usually financial). Your products liability hypothetical is indeed fraud, and actionable in both the civil and criminal sense.

    If the deceptions you have in mind include Scientology's grandiose claims of increased IQ, perfect memory, etc., through auditing, the law generally considers such claims not fraud but "puffery," since no reasonable person would take them literally.
  15. fisherman Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!


    Thanks for the compliment and for clarifying the 501(c)(3) question. I have some knowledge of non-profit corporations but no experience with religious organization. You wrote:


    You're very welcome!

    Regarding deception, I think Tikk mistook your initial question which was a little vaque. You clarified this and Tikk provided us all the right answer.

    As far as I know, deception, of itself is not illegal. A magician using deception and 'prestidigitation' in a performance isn't doing anything unlawful. As Tikk says, the law 'kicks in' when someone does 'harm' and particularly when they do 'harm' intentionally.

    Still, I think I understand what you're driving at, "What if someone deceives you and alters your beliefs in a way that does harm?"

    You wrote:

    [quoteIf someone feels they have good cause to believe that their belief system has been manipulated by deceptive means by a religion, is this illegal by the law? Can they proceed with prosecution? Do they have a case?[/quote]

    To my knowledge it's not illegal to persuade you to believe differently. It's illegal to cause harm. If a cult subverts your beliefs so that you start damaging your body in 8 hour saunas, it the harm caused by the saunas that may be prosecutable.

    Tikk could tell us which laws might be used to address that particular harm, whether it falls under fraud, negligence, illegal practice of medicine, etc.

    I can certainly see how you (or anyone) would logically fit deception and harm together, but the law can only address itself to tangible harms. It would be difficult to prove that persuading you to believe differently is, of itself, harmful.

    IANAL: fisherman
  16. determu Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!


    and now i know, and knowing is half the battle.

    I didn't know if i entered a government building that my rights were "temporarily suspended for safety reasons"

    I now carry a briefcase to show i expect a reasonable amount of privacy

    but do tell what about

    "If a sheriff wanted to could he detain me for 24-48 hours for "questioning" and if so what would he need to prove?

    If i didn't carry ID how long can they hold me until they "find my identity" ?"
  17. _You_ Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!


    Some context for the "strange questions":

    Anon entering a government building where Scientologists and possibly corrupt government officials may exist. There's good reason to suspect that this Anon could be subject to harassment by LEO deputies, under direction of "possibly corrupt officials" or Scientologists directly.

    I would presume the Anon is not carrying anything actually illegal-
    except for candy bars.

    Anon would like to know how far his rights extend, and how much he can safely "push back" - if it appears that LEO persons are likely to share anything they find with Scientology officials/lawyers.
  18. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Please realize that it would be a bad idea to use the fourth amendment as a guideline on how you should behave, because it's easy enough to be stopped, searched, have your possessions seized, and/or arrested despite following the law to the letter. Whether or not you're ultimately exonerated isn't necessarily the point, because you might wind up having to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to get exonerated.

    Realize too that while a doctrine called "fruit of the poisonous tree" in essence renders evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure as inadmissible, there are fairly meaty exceptions to the rule. So even if a court ultimately finds that, yes, you had your civil rights violated, the drugs found on you may form the basis for a separate charge under circumstances.

    The smartest thing is to adopt an approach where you don't get arrested at all, not whether what you're about to do is technically "legal."

    Disclaimer: I'm a lawyer but not your lawyer (whoever's reading this); and the above isn't legal advice, but merely my opinion on a question presented.
  19. Dog Duke Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Google Molko v. Holy Spirit. This is a California Supreme Court case that deals with the distinction between protected belief and culpable conduct. You can believe in murder but you cannot engage in conduct amounting to murder.
  20. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!


    have you ever eaten lobster? I am thinking about trying it, and am kind of scared. Its a Crustacean for cryin' out loud!
  21. TinyDancer Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Hehe. I lol'd. I zapped him.
  22. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    I lol'd as well..but the question still stands.
  23. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Hi i run a nuclear power plant in springfield.
    The EPA are running an investigation.
    Can you help.
  24. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Hi, I'm in the Sea Org, and a bunch of Catholic nuns in Italy tried to stop me from having an abortion.
    This is off policy.
    Can I sue the nuns for interfering with my religious duties?
  25. Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Thanks for lending your expertise,
    My questions concern the VA code on wearing masks in public
    (VA CODE Section 18.2-422)

    #1 - It shall be unlawful for any person over sixteen years of age while wearing any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer

    Does this include "excessive face paint" (i.e. enough paint that the thickness of the paint modifies the appearance of the facial structure)?

    If so, does it cover "simple face paint" (all over the face and head, but without the thickness modifying the appearance of the facial structure)?

    and, if so, where is the legal line between wearing "simple face paint" and "makeup"?

    #2 However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons
    (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes;
    (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons;
    (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or
    (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device.

    What loopholes do you see here?
    > is the threshold for "traditional holiday" low enough to use?
    > can "physical safety of the wearer or other persons" be a justified reason on the grounds of a realistic fear of reprise by Scilons?
    > is the definition of "bone fide" loose, objectively defined, or at police discretion?
    > can a physician advise the use of a mask because avoiding scilon backlash is a "medical necessity"?

    -thanks for your halp
  26. AnotherSock Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    A silly question, perhaps, but...

    Could namefagged members of Anonymous in various countries apply for a registered trademark, Xenu®? (Could also be spelled X-e-m-u.)

    What I'm thinking is that if it was granted, CoS would then be open to a world of pain, for making use of 'our' brand name. And the only good way to stop the trademark being granted, that I can think of, is to fess up to the whole Xenu story, to prove that THEY ought to have the rights to Xenu.

    CoS has more lawyers than us, and more money than us, so they can be expected to win any such case... but their legal sledgehammer would just draw attention to the OT3 story, again. Which is to say, tell the world that they're a UFO cult.

    And then we do the same thing with Teegeack, etc... and rinse and repeat.
  27. OTBT Member

  28. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Someone could apply, but would need to be able to show that they were "using it in commerce"--registered trademarks aren't just given out unless you're selling something and the name serves as a unique identifier referable to what you're selling. I don't necessarily think Scientology would challenge the registration on the grounds that it's 'theirs,' but I think they might challenge it on public policy grounds (i.e., trademarks are not granted for terms that are "immoral, deceptive or scandalous," or "disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols."). I'm not saying that "xenu" falls into that category, but they'd likely argue that it did.
  29. Anontacular Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Some brands of clothing seem to be little more than a logo. As I understand, it would be fine to produce something like T-Shirts, jackets, hats made by Xenu. The logo would say Xenu and a very cool alien likeness. Like Izod or FUBU for Anons. Is this correct?
  30. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    O hai lawfags!

    Santa Clara County scientologist has apparently claimed in an email that with the blessing of the county supervisors, District Attorney, and San Jose police department, boxes of "Anonymous Hate Crimez" flyers have been printed upflyers have been printed up, evidently at tax payer expense and are slated for distribution by the local orgs as well as by county representatives this coming Saturday.

    Local Anon's as well as some ex scientologists are planning to meet with a county staffer on Friday to discuss this matter. If in fact this is all as it seems, what would it take to obtain an injunction to keep these boxes sealed at least until the potential separation of "church" and state issues can be sorted out?

  31. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Welcome, and thank you for joining us!

    I am concerned about $ci claiming that files are "confessionals" and subject to the privacy that priests have in confessions. They use this, I feel, as a re-naming to keep them hidden and under their control.
  32. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Confessional auditing matches the concept of the confession one might make in a real religion such as Catholicism, although of course those guys don't keep notes - which raises some highly interesting questions about freedom of information and data protection, perhaps.

    Confessional auditing has always been a great way for the cult to obtain blackmail material. It's also proof that Dianetics doesn't work, since if auditing really resolved an issue, there would be no benefit in keeping the work sheets beyond the end of the session.

    The only good news, really, is that CoS have shown that they can and will fabricate any story they want to, in order to discredit an ex-Sci. This "dead agenting" has been overdone, and means that few people believe anything they claim, nowadays. Also, the world is changing. Leaking the information that somebody is (gasp) gay says more about how bigoted CoS is, than how immoral the victim may be.
  33. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Is there any current lawsuits for Ex staff or SO to get minimum wage for time spent on staff?
  34. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Go look up the Headley's case and the recent Fl. class action, search funtion usually works ok.
  35. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    erm, function ^^^
  36. Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Wait, hold on here. If this could be considered racketeering, then is it possible to get RICO involved?
  37. muldrake Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    The problem with civil RICO is first you need to prove two predicate acts, usually crimes. While it's a civil case, courts seem to apply a stricter, almost quasi-criminal standard of evidence. Complicating matters, I don't believe that courts have even explicitly stated whether they're applying something like a clear and convincing standard, a higher burden than the usual preponderance of evidence standard, despite the fact that the statute has been around for decades. They could even be applying a higher, undefined standard.

    Only after doing that can you even get to the point of trying to prove your civil case, and again, while that, itself, is largely a matter of the normal preponderance standard of proof, there are areas where courts seem to be applying a higher standard there as well, often being vague about exactly what they're doing.

    All this assumes you even get to the trial stage. This itself is unlikely without highly skilled counsel. The pleading requirements for civil RICO are absurdly specific. You virtually have to prove your case in the complaint itself, before you have even had discovery, about organizations (racketeering enterprises) which tend to be highly secretive. And that's just the baseline federal requirements. Usually, each Circuit and District Court also have their own unique pleading requirements defined in their local rules.

    Even federal prosecutors given nearly unlimited funding to go after RICOs often have difficulty proving a racketeering enterprise exists and that the defendants are on the hook for it. If I recall correctly, they even failed to get John Gotti on RICO the first time they tried, and it's hard to imagine a more clear-cut racketeer.

    So, in short, while RICO is a fairly common pipe dream of critics of Scientology, it would take nearly a perfect storm of defections, document leaks, brilliant legal counsel (or more likely a team from a big law firm) willing to work for virtually nothing up front, and lots of luck to make this fly.

    It's not that I don't think Scientology isn't a RICO of sorts. It's that I don't think the practicalities and logistical issues are surmountable, without vastly changed circumstances.
    • Like Like x 1
  38. Anonymous Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    I have a question: is it legal to make other people loose the game?
  39. Major Boyle Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Ahem. L Ron Butt plugs by Xenu Technologies incorporated.
  40. tikk Member

    Re: A Lawyer Answers Your Questions!!

    Thanks much for the perfectly succinct and accurate explanation, which should be programmed to auto-reply to every poster in the Scientology-critic-universe that inevitably suggests Scientology should/can be brought down with a RICO action.

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