IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, STATE OF FLORIDA
GENERAL CIVIL DIVISION
ESTATE OF LISA McPHERSON by and through the Personal Representative, DELL LIEBREICH
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG SERVICE ORGANIZATION, INC.; JANIS JOHNSON; ALAIN KARTUZINSKI; and DAVID HOUGHTON,
ESTATE OF LISA McPHERSON'S RESPONSE
TO THIS COURT'S ORDER OF MARCH 23, 2003
Case No. [note: the number is crossed out and re-written so I don't know which is right]
COMES NOW the Plaintiff, ESTATE OF LISA MCPHERSON, by and through its Personal Representative, in response to this court's order of March 23, 2003, which revived the Counterclaim for the sole purpose of determining Robert Minton's Motion to Disqualify and if granted, response to transferring the wrongful death claim with the newly appointed court on the Counterclaim.
1. The ESTATE requests that this court reconsider its March 23, 2003 order and keep the Counterclaim abated as previously stipulated by the parties. What Minton is now doing is the work of COSFSO. Minton's motion is simply a means to derail the setting of trial of the main action. Contrary to COSFSO's position, Minton is not a key witness in the main action.
2. It is the ESTATE's position that Robert Minton's Motion to Disqualify is entirely without any or legal basis and should be summarily denied. Amazingly, it is Mr. Minton himself who admitted to be a perjurer and admitted to withholding corrections of prior perjured testimony in his recantation affidavits prepared with the help of counsel for the Church of Scientology. It is counsel for the Church of Scientology, Monique Yingling, who knew that Mr. Minton did not recant all of his lies and failed to inform the court of these omissions.
3. COSFSO never filed a motion to disqualify this court. However, on its pending action, the appeal of this court's denial of Motion to Disqualify, it asked the Second District Court of Appeal to transfer the case to another division. This is forum shopping. Although COSFSO has no grounds for disqualification, it has waived its right to seek disqualification by not filing a timely motion. It should not benefit now by Mr. Minton's motion.
4. It is quite obvious that Robert Minton is acting in concert with the Church of Scientology to have the entire case removed from this court to a new judge and predictively, Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc. would request The Honorable Douglas Baird to hear the entire case. It has done this already on two cases by Religious Technology Center originally assigned to The Honorable Bruce Boyer. This is also forum shopping.
5. If this court finds the Motion to Disqualify to have merit, the wrongful death case should not be transferred along with the Counterclaim. The two claims have been severed. They are not interrelated. There is, therefore, no reason to transfer the main action. Foremost, the law of the case is the Second District Court of Appeal denying the Cert Petition of Robert Minton on the wrongful death case.
6. A transfer would cause undue delay of the trial and would not be judicially economical. It would be extremely prejudicial to the ESTATE to have the wrongful death case sent to another division. This court has done extraordinary work in studying the facts and issues involved in this case which no other judge has done. This case has been ready for trial for over a year.
7. It is also anticipated that if this court were to transfer the wrongful death claim which is now severed from the Counterclaim, COSFSO would file repetitive motions which this court has already decided, such as Motions to Dismiss, Motions for Summary Judgment, Motion for Sanctions, Motions for Disqualification. See Blackpool Associates, Ltd. v. FM-106, Ltd., 28 FLW D639 (Fla. 4th DCA March 5, 2003) which contains citations permitting "the successor judge may reconsider any prior factual or legal rulings."
8. In conclusion, the ESTATE requests the court to deny Robert Minton's Motion for Disqualification, and in failing that, not transfer the wrongful death case to any other division. ESTATE also requests that the court set the wrongful death matter for trial in July 2003, regardless of the pending Writ of Certiorari on the denial of the disqualification motion, since the grounds stated in the Writ of Certiorari do not cite any facts to support any conclusion that the failure to disqualify the ESTATE's counsel results in prejudice to the Defendants.
9. Even if the court had found Robert Minton to be a perjurer without admissions from Mr. Minton, that finding is not enough to form the basis for disqualification. Recently, the ESTATE's counsel, who is now named as a party defendant in the Clearwater case for Breach of Contract, appealed the denial of a disqualification motion filed by him in reference to Judge Baird, and the Second District Court of Appeal denied that Writ even though it was based on Judge Baird 's issuing an order based on credibility issues of the ESTATE's counsel.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, ESTATE OF LISA McPHERSON, respectfully requests that this court deny Robert Minton's Motion for Disqualification. Alternatively, the main action should not transferred.
I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing has been furnished by fax and U.S. Mail this 27th day of March, 2003, to the attached Service List.
KENNAN G. DANDAR, ESQ. DANDAR & DANDAR, P.A. 1715 North Westshore Blvd., Suite 750 Post Office Box 24597 Tampa, Florida 33623-4597 813-289-x/FAX: 813-287-x Florida Bar No. 289698 Attorney for Plaintiff cc: The Honorable Susan Schaeffer,
To Life and Death of Lisa McPherson