Oh, and a huge wave of thanks goes out to Bill and Kim for making this ultimately possible.
WATCHTOWER loses in court!
Guys, it is not a slam dunk, they do NOT have to provide documents that relate to the child abuse teleforms or the survey information provided because it is deemed privileged! Actually, the ruling gives us everything we need. This is a big ruling for JW abuse survivors, likely to create precedent in other states where cases are filed. Other recent rulings on this same issue were appealed to the court of appeals and the California supreme court, who ruled against WTS. I will see if i can get these in one PDF packet for a thread re these issues in one spot, but I'm not particularly good at the tech aspect. As to the earlier rulings on the same issues, it is my understanding that WTS has decided not to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court. We're still looking at patterns showing WTS practice of cover-up in these circumstances. If you know of circumstances of cover-up, please email me at the address below. Kimberlee D. Norris [email protected]
Big Congrats to Kim and all the people affected positively by this!
As to the earlier rulings on the same issues, it is my understanding that WTS has decided not to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court.
Kim, in your professional opinion, why do you think they decided not to take this to the Supreme Court? Exposure from the media aspect, or something else?
Well done they deserve a lot of defeats and bad publicity over the way they protect pedophiles with the impossible two witness rule.
What can we do to help capitalize on this?
Clerk of the Napa Superior Court
By: M.M Fields
SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA,
COUNTY OF NAPA
CHARlSSA W., et al.,
WATCHTOWER BIBLE AND TRACT
SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, et al.
JCCP No. 4374
RULING ON SUBMITTED
Plaintiffs' Motions To Compel Discovery came on for hearing on October 13, 2006. The
court, having read and considered the papers in support of and in opposition to the motion and having heard ora1 argument, took the motions under submission and now rules as follows:
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Depositions and/or for Protective Order re: the Weedland
Elders (Motion #1)
The Watchtower defendants have informed the plaintiffs that, at the depositions of four
Church Elders, they will invoke the clergy-penitent privilege and object to "any inquiries concerning judicial investigations and judicial committees." Plaintiffs seek an order compelling the deponents to attend their depositions and to respond to such inquiries.
This court has previously ruled in the Track I cases that the penitential communication
privilege does not apply to communications between the alleged abusers and the Judicial
Committee. (See Court's ruling of September 29, 2005.) Although that ruling is not res judicata in non-track 1 cases, defendants provide no convincing reason why the court should rule differently in this case. For the reasons expressed in the earlier ruling, the court concludes that the witnesses may not assert the penitential communication privilege. To the extent the motion also encompasses the production of documents, defendants shall produce responsive documents, regardless of when they arc dated. As plaintiffs note, it is possible that documents dated after the alleged abuse will contain relevant information. For these reasons, plaintiffs' motion #1 is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel PMK Deposition and Documents – General (Motion #2)
Plaintiffs have noticed the deposition of the Church defendants' Person(s) Most
Knowledgeable (PMK) on a number of specified topics. Defendants have objected to six areas of inquiry, again invoking the clergy-penitent privilege. For the reasons discussed above and in the court’s earlier ruling, the court finds that the clergy-penitent privilege does not apply to these areas of inquiry. Defendants also object to the scope of the document requests, claiming that documents that post-date the alleged abuse arc not relevant or likely to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. As above, the court finds that the documents are discoverable. For these reasons, plaintiffs' motion #2 is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel PMK Deposition and Documents – Legal (Motion #3)
Plaintiffs previously issued a PMK deposition notice concerning "any and all policies that
the Jehovah's Witnesses organization had for handling accusations and proof of child sexual abuse from 1970 to the present." During that PMK deposition of Mr. Breaux, he identified functions that were handled by the Legal Department rather than by the Service Department, where he worked. As to these, he lacked the information necessary to provide responses.
Plaintiffs subsequently noticed a PMK deposition to inquire into (1) the organiztiion,
staffing and operation of the Legal Department; (2) the Legal Departments role in responding to and investigating child sexual abuse allegations within the organization; (3) the development and use of "Child Abuse Telememos" which were forms developed to obtain and record information concerning reports of abuse (blank forms were produced in discovery); (4) records kept by or under the direction of the Legal Department concerning allegations of abuse; and (5) answers given to "survey questions" contained on one of the Telememos.
Defendants have objected that these areas of inquiry are protected by the attorney-client and/or work product privileges. As to the first two categories, plaintiffs contend that they concern only policies and implementation, and do not invade any privileges. As to category 3 and 5, they assert only that the information is related to the blank documents they already received in discovery, and that the information goes to the heart of their case. Finally, as to category 4, they claim again, that no privileges would be invaded, because they seek general information about the types of records kept by the legal department.
The court agrees that items 1, 2 and 4 which seek general structural, policy and organizational information concerning the Legal Department, implicate neither the attorney-client nor the work product privileges. Item 3 and 5 on the other hand, seek protected information. As set forth in the declaration of the Church’s associate general council, the Telememo forms are completed by attorneys or legal assistants based upon information provided them by congregation elders, and are used to assist in giving legal advice to the elders, as clients of the Legal Department. Similarly, any compilation of information, as from the “survey questions” constitutes attorney work product and is not discoverable.
For these reasons, the court will GRANT the motion as to the items 1, 2, and 4 and will DENY the motion as to items 3 and 5.
Lady Lee said:
For a religion who continually asserts they do not have a clergy class they sure love to hide behind the clergy-penitent privilege. It's about time they get called on it
Well stated LL! I hope that this is the start of the ending of hiding behind their "religious facade" for all religions w/ horrible child abuse histories. These criminals need to brought forward and be punished for a horrific crime upon innocent little kids and youth.
I copy and pasted this court decision to show to my mother...once and for all she will see, whether she leaves the Borg or not but she will have to live with her concious[ and denial]. I'm so happy for this breakthrough,cant stop crying!!!!------- rocky220
IMO, they aren't appealing because, on this issue, they won't win.
(and don't want US Supreme Court opinion saying so)