Cult files suit in Georgia

Discussion in 'Leaks & Legal' started by GUMBYtheUNSTOPPABLE, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Anonymous Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    I forget which document it is in, but one of the church's attorney's was complaining about the defendants documentation being so organized.
  2. Anonymous Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    I have a monstrous amount of other stuff to read, but I'd suggest stuff like Motions for Summary Judgment are likely to be more interesting than the rest. The depositions are certainly going to have nuggets in them, but will involve a lot of reading to get to it. Here's the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. A motion for summary judgment is a motion filed by either party (but usually the defendant) that argues that given the undisputed facts, there is no way the other side can win and the court should decide the case, either in part or in whole, against the other side.

    I'll put up a tl;dr when I get through it.
  3. OTBT Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    Reaching for the Tipping Point

    Seriously, if you haven't seen ^ this site yet, please do. Be nice, site is designed for noobs.

    OP is OG and a real nice guy.
  4. Anonymous Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    tl;dr of the tl;dr. Town says that parking regulations don't create a substantial burden on the cult, which despite claiming it needs more space, is already operating perfectly comfortably in a much smaller location. The town's parking requirement doesn't stop anyone from practicing their religion. It just says how many parking spaces you need. It applies to everyone equally. Scientology doesn't have special rights.

    Okay, here's a tl;dr of the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

    The cult purchased a location for a Class V Org (your typical satellite org where you can get the usual services aside from the Upper Levels), which is their sole org in Georgia. They purchased it in a location where there is not sufficient parking. The reason the cult currently does not have sufficient parking is that the dwarf decided on new requirements for Class V Organizations, and to meet them, the cult will have to expand their building, based on the dwarf's fantasies about how many customers they'll get in some town in Georgia.

    The cult seeks to expand, and seeks a variance from normal zoning, which requires that structures have sufficient parking. Another business which did not purport to be a religion would not be allowed to do this. They seek to invoke the land use portions of the "Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act," which purport to give religions special rights to use land in the manner of their choosing despite secular laws to the contrary.

    The city argues that the rezoning would create traffic hazards at an ill-designed intersection, where there is already significant traffic congestion and a hazard to public safety from accidents resulting from the same. The cult argues screw the public, we're a religion. We have special rights. The problem is, Congress has actually passed a law purporting to give them exactly these rights.

    The city makes a number of arguments: Scientology is not, in fact, a traditional religion, where people gather in large groups to worship together, but instead, focuses in individual services; the cult's parking study was insufficient and shouldn't be given any weight.

    However, their most important argument is this is a case that has nothing to do with religion. All it is about is parking. Whatever RLUIPA says, according to the Supreme Court, the Constitution says you don't get special rights for claiming something is religious. If you want to expand a building in Dunwoody, Georgia, you have to have the right amount of parking. If you don't, you're perfectly free to build elsewhere. In this case, the cult's hasty purchase of property and its subsequent change of policy for Class V orgs does not justify giving it an exemption from the laws everyone else has to obey, laws that are there to protect the public. Giving them the variance would create a public nuisance and even endanger lives.

    Also, the town argues that the ordinance does not "substantially burden" Scientology's religious activities. It points out that "Scientology does not have any beliefs, practices, or religious mandates with respect to parking at its facilities."

    The town also points out that despite the cult's claim of burden on its religious activity, the new org location has, in fact, sat idle since 2005, and the cult's current activities occur in a much smaller facility. The town also argues there is no equal protection issue. The town also argues that the federal court should withhold judgment on various state law claims made by the cult.

    I find it more interesting what the town doesn't argue than what they do. I can't say whether the drafters of the brief were making a strategic choice or just doing it wrong. The Supreme Court cases Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith and City of Boerne v. Flores seem appropriate. In Smith the Court ruled that "neutral laws of general applicability" apply to everyone, regardless of faith. The Court in that case upheld a law forbidding possession of peyote against an employee fired for religious use of peyote who was denied worker's compensation because his firing was for "willful misconduct" in breaking that law. Congress responded to this decision (written by arch-conservative Justice Scalia), by passing the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which purported to order the Court to apply a strict standard of review to cases involving religious organizations, a special benefit that nobody else would get.

    In Boerne, the Court upheld a local zoning ordinance (an historic preservation ordinance), quite similar to that in this case, against a challenge under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A local church wanted to expand, despite zoning to the contrary, and was denied a variance. They sued under RFRA, and demanded the strict scrutiny the statute provided. The Court smacked down RFRA by a 7-2 decision, sternly pointing out that Congress has no power whatsoever to tell the Supreme Court how to interpret the Constitution.

    In my opinion, RLUIPA is just an attempt to do an end-run around these two Supreme Court decisions, and would be smacked down just as authoritatively if it ever came to a challenge. Why I think it could be a strategic decision not to argue these cases at this stage is that the city may just want to win this quickly, and complicated and controversial constitutional arguments about freedom of religion are not the way to do that.

    I'd be surprised not to see these issues addressed if the case goes to trial.

    Something particularly funny about this case is it's spawned from the cult's new requirements for Class V orgs, which assume that they are going to be heavily trafficked. In actuality, even if the cult gets to expand its building, all it will achieve is having a much bigger empty building with few customers. Basically they're suing for the right to waste a bunch of money building a money-losing org.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Anonymous Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    Sounds pretty good to me.
  6. Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    Awesome summation. Either way is a win-win. Like you pointed out, if they some how get clearance... they lose money expanding. And if they get smacked down... they get reminded that people aren't intimidated by Scilons any more, a reminder that their clout is useless.( you pointed out how their parking study was thrown out.)

    Good news is Good!
    • Like Like x 1
  7. ravenanon Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    I agree thats the best summation I've read about this whole thing so far.
  8. ethercat Member

    Re: Cult files suit in Georgia

    Thank you OTBT, that's so nice of you.

    Here are the documents for the Breach of Contract lawsuit (mentioned above) with Waterford Park (the former location which they left suddenly), and a little individual thing about Deb Danos, DSA, who is in over her head:
    CoS Georgia and Deborah Danos sued for Breach of Contract : Tenant Vacates, lol
  9. tikk Member

  10. Anonymous Member

    Sighs. I guess we should expect Scientology to take full advantage of flip-flop courts.
  11. Robatl Member

    I agree that this is a situation where we cannot lose. They will bleedmoneyfixing that hovelup, then bleed money paying for utilities etc. Also, there are better restuarants around Sandy Springs to eat at after protests, which is worth something.
  12. Xenu Is Lord Member

    It looks as if the city did not challenge the reconsideration hearing. That is not a bad move as the cult will lay its cards on the table but the city will respond in court. This is only a decision as to if the challenge can go forward. The cult will uncountably make everyone in that town hate them.
  13. muldrake Member

    I'm not happy to hear about this, because this is the sort of procedural clusterfuck that Scientology loves. It lets them drive up the costs to force the city, which is probably cash-strapped in this shitty economy, to cave in and just give the cult what it wants. Just pour on mountains of high-priced legal bullshit and waste taxpayer money, to the point that the waste of taxpayer money involved in just giving the crazy cultists whatever they want is less than what it would cost to fight it.

    Scientology always gets all the justice money can buy. I'd like to say this one will turn out otherwise, but let's see.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Xenu Is Lord Member

    If they win it will be hailed as a great victory in the cult and be followed by threats to the city of (don't fuck with us again and give us what we want when we want it) This is why it is so important for them to loose.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. failboat Member

  16. Anonymous Member

    There will be a public hearing on the June 19th City Council meeting according to Reporter Newspapers:

    The saga of the Church of Scientology vs. the City of Sandy Springs may finally be drawing to a close.

    According to a public notice, there will be a hearing about the case on the June 19 City Council meeting at 6 p.m. at Sandy Springs City Hall, located at 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500.
    to expand space at the building because of limited parking, sparking a lawsuit that alleged the city violated the church’s religious freedom.
    Information about how the church and the city resolved the lawsuit is not yet available.
    According to federal court records, the two parties met in a mediation session on March 26.
    The consent order filed on March 30 says the church and the city didn’t finalize an agreement during that session but says both sides considered a revised parking plan.
    The Church of Scientology sued the city over the church’s application to open at 5395 Roswell Road. The city approved the application in 2009, but did not allow the church

    Sandy Springs to hold public hearing on resolution of Scientology suit – Reporter Newspapers
  17. muldrake Member

    What I have always viewed as hilarious and ironic about this case is that it is over parking. This lawsuit is over the fact that Scientology claims they're going to be doing enormous amounts of business at this org, to the point that the city entertained this delusion long enough to believe that they'd actually need more parking.

    Have you ever seen a fucking parking lot at an org? To echo Beghe, show me a full fucking parking lot at an org! Usually, there's a busted-down broken car that some miserable, broke-ass staffer can't afford to fucking fix. Maybe two. Usually with a puddle from a cracked oilpan under it, or other evidence of defunct-ery.

    The city was probably constrained by their own regulations to make a finding that new parking was necessary.

    The cult was probably constrained by its own insanity to make bogus claims that would inevitably lead to a finding that new parking was necessary.

    All this led to what was probably an absurdly expensive lawsuit. Not expensive by Scientology lawsuit terms, I would be surprised if either side spent more than five figures on this bullshit. However, the lawsuit was completely unnecessary, and leads to what was inevitably the result from the very beginning.

    The cult gets to have their stupid org and their stupid empty parking lot.

    Yee-fucking haw. All the justice money can buy. At least some lawyers got paid, always good in this feeble economy.
    • Funny Funny x 4
    • Agree Agree x 3
  18. Quentinanon Member

    Org and mission parking lots are usually less than one third filled in my observation. I think the DSA Atlanta needed to get some legal stats. That is the only factor that explains this nonsense.
  19. JohnnyRUClear Member

    When was this decided? I thought we were still waiting for an outcome.
  20. BigBeard Member

    We are. Nothing gets decided until after the Public Hearing on the 19th.

  21. Anonymous Member

    Says they resolved the lawsuit. Doesn't that mean the matter has been decided?
  22. JohnnyRUClear Member

    Oh, I guess we're tangled up over this sentence:

    Well, we'll know something in 3 days.
  23. anon walker Moderator

    Let us hope sanity prevails.
  24. Anonymous Member

    It will, just depends on whose version...
  25. muldrake Member

    We don't actually. I'm calling that I think this will be settled. I could be misreading the tea leaves.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  26. JohnnyRUClear Member

    We don't what? :)

    Our exchange reminds me of one of my all-time favorite bits of mangled grammar, c/o a local reporterette in Portland back in the 1980s:

    "Some say there are something to them; others say they don't."
  27. ravenanon Member

    It's been rumored for a bit that it would be settled which makes me sad. I do know some of the neighborhoods decided to push that SS fight on. This video shows one one of them
  28. ravenanon Member

    The end vote was to delay to a vote on July. I think the exact date was July 17

    Just got back. I forgot my video channel, but I'm sure others have a tape. The cult had someone filming at first, but they sat down. I have no clue why.

    These are my notes and not I didn't catch names other than Bob Adams was there.

    The speaking time was expanded from 10 minutes to 15 minutes and the rezoning was moved up to right after the budget vote.

    Basically the cult has offered a new parking plan that lets them get to the required 130 parking spaces and finish off the basement. Most of the spaces would be full size.

    The home owners brought up this cut away green space and that the intersection. The budget that was passed right before this allows for fixing the intersection the cults building sits at. The long term fix for this does not exist.

    The regular SS lawyer was not there so one of the other SS lawyers filled in for him. She stated this new plan fulfills all the requirements of the zoning. Oddly enough she also said something about the cult doesn't use the building like most do. This was some of the garbage the cult tried using at first during the rezoning. Scientology regularly said SS didn't get it they were never all at the building all at once.

    It was brought up by the citizens of SS that they didn't get proper notice of the rezoning and what the new plan was. I heard two different articles/notices ran in the paper and they said very different things. I have not seen these so no clue.

    A public works person was asked if fixing the intersection would cut into the cults parking lot. He said the outdated plan did, but he didn't think a new plan would. He viewed the traffic problems as an easy fix. This sounds like a guess to me, but thats not my field

    Two motions were made one was to delay the vote until July. Eventually this motion will be passed, but the SS lawyer was against it. She said the delaying again may anger the judge. One of the councilmen who is a lawyer said that law moves at glacier speeds and seemed to dismiss this. The SS lawyer pointed out that if the cult wins one part of the lawsuit they can do whatever they want to the building and ignore the parking rules. ( I don't understand that at all, but I lack a law degree). One of the council women was very against delaying and wants to vote for it. She did not want to go against the city's counsel and cost the city's money if they lost the case. As I recall she said she was scared to lose to Scientology . Eventually it was decided the citizens needed time to look over the plan and then speak on the matter properly after some discussion.

    A motion to veto the rezoning did not get a second and died. This occurred during the discussion above.

    It looks like to me 2 council members want this ended and the rest are letting people talk. I'm sad to say that I think the cult will get the rezoning . Most of the objections to the rezoning were shot down. The SS lawyer was definitely in favor of calling this all done. I I thought she was biased, but I am too lol)

    Link to the info of what the new rezoning is
    ^^^ that has the new parking lot map on it

    on the sort of funny side of it
    -when the opposition to the rezoning was talking the name of one of the cult member was called. He failed to mark the speakers card correctly. This commented on out loud.
    -During the cults time to talk pro-rezoning one of the anti rezoning people slide in at the end and talked using up the cults time. Since he was at the end it was no big deal, but the cult people around me sure did squirm during it.
    -Bob Adams was there and failed to say much of interest

    No matter what happens the cult has spent time and money on this and it has hit them hard.
    • Like Like x 3
  29. Anonymous Member

  30. JohnnyRUClear Member

    I was just thinking the same thing. What's the cost been on our side? Some fapping with no happy ending?

    Like the sign said, our nonsense is free. :)
    • Like Like x 2
  31. muldrake Member

    It seems somewhat odd they're discussing advice from their attorney before making a decision. I believe that unlike a private client, a municipal client has some obligation to disclose the reasons for their decisions, but that advice given during the deliberation process is still privileged.

    I'm not sure exactly why they messed this up. They could have been being sneaky and trying to get the settlement done without a public uproar. I suppose it could just have been an innocent goof, but the timing on it seems funny somehow.

    To get back to the lawyer issue:

    Was this something she said at the open meeting? I know these bodies sometimes seek advice of counsel before making a decision, but it seems odd for their own attorney to be making statements directly adverse to their interests.

    As the council, I wouldn't be happy about this unless the settlement was basically already a done deal and this whole session was just to get all their legal ducks in a row and fix the public notice problem.

    They may be worried they're trading a lawsuit by the cult for a lawsuit with residents, who would, of course, argue that the public notice requirement wasn't met. Now, if there are any such people, they'll have to argue instead that this whole thing is just a fig leaf and the real decision occurred before public notice. That's a tougher argument to make than "they had to give notice and they didn't."
  32. ravenanon Member

    Henderson made that statement yesterday during the open meeting. TBH she seemed very slanted towards lets end this here now. However as I said I'm slanted too. At times I felt it seemed the SS lawyers and the council had not really talked through everything.

    I honestly think the next meeting will let everyone vent and then a vote to let the rezoning occur will happen. I'm not seeing new grounds to fight this now, but I still lack that law degree
    • Like Like x 1
  33. another123 Member

  34. RightOn Member

    in the end the residents will not have to worry about a traffic hazard, since there won't be anyone going into the morgue in the first place
    hey COS! you don't like the building you bought? buy another.
    A simple task and a drop in the bucket for such an "expanding" empire. *cough* right?

    I also like the fact that the cult is not making new friends in the community. Just the opposite.
    thanks COS!
    Now lets see if the Mayor or the Chamber of Commerce caves and attends the grand opening. Perhaps they should be forwarned of the pending invitation?
    Or also any local cops, sherrifs or whatever?
  35. Lorelei Member

    See, you think like a logical and reasonable person and you would probably take the hint after most of the locals expressed disapproval of your disruptive presence in their neighborhood.
    You also probably wouldn't have thrown several loud events and parked cars all along the neighbors's streets, or panhandled books and crap in the parking lot, all of which pissed them off before and during this whole mess.
    And prior to that, you would have made sure that the building you purchased was suitable for your needs rather than just assuming you could disregard whatever local zoning codes and restrictions were in place for everyone else and do whatever the heck you wanted without anyone protesting your plans.
    You would not have let the property fall into disrepair and become a blight.
    You also would not have countered reasonable and legitimate concerns with long speeches about the spiffy audio-visual equipment and new woodwork inside the building when the locals' concerns were about parking and traffic, but you are not Bob Adams. are not the Scientologists.
  36. RightOn Member

    tru dat
    its amazing how they are still acting like the bullies on the play ground
    Would hate to be working in that org on staff waiting for public to show.
    • Like Like x 1
  37. anon walker Moderator

    Stand firm, Sandy Springs. Do not let these bastards cut down ONE TREE for their parking lot!
  38. Anonymous Member

  39. Anonymous Member

    Should zoning modifications conditions for the Church of Scientology be approved to accommodate its rebuilding plans?
    • Yes, I’m surprised this has turned into such a big issue. 2 (8%)
    • No, I have traffic concerns. 2 (8%)
    • For various reasons, I’m not comfortable with City Council approving the zoning modification conditions. 19 (82%)
    Total votes: 23
  40. Anonymous Member

    The scilons are on it now - support for the expansion has gone from 8% to 35% in a couple of hours :(

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