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Government attorneys argue for release of Scientology documents

Title: Government attorneys argue for release of Scientology documents
Date: Friday, 9 November 1979
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Charles Stafford
Main source: news.google.com

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WASHINGTON — Government attorneys said Thursday that Church of Scientology documents cannot he kept sealed because, among other reasons, a federal grand jury in Tampa needs them.

Carl S. Rauh, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and four of his assistants asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District to reject the church's request that the documents be kept secret.

The documents were among 48,000 seized in raids on church headquarters in Los Angeles on July 8, 1977. They served as the basis for the indictment of 11 officials of the church on charges of conspiring to steal government documents, theft of documents and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Nine of the Scientology leaders were found guilty Oct. 26 of one charge each under a plea arrangement that permits them to appeal on ground that the documents were illegally seized. U.S. District Judge Charles Richey released the documentary evidence over the objection of the nine defendants. They and the church appealed that action.

SIX CARTONS of documents have been made public. Thirty-three more are being held until the appeal is decided. There has been no indication when the appellate court might rule, but it could be as early as today.

In asking the court to reject the appeal, the U.S. attorneys said that contrary to the argument of the church and the defendants "the criminal case pending before Judge Richey is not over."

"Two defendants, Jane Kember and Morris Budlong, remain fugitives from justice (in England)," they said. "They were ordered extradited by the United Kingdom courts on May 25, 1979. Their appeal from that extradition order is to be heard by the British High Court of Justice during three days of hearings scheduled to begin Nov 12."

The courts and the government have need of the documents if there is to be trial of Ms. Kember and Budlong, the government said in its written argument, and for the sentencing of the nine church leaders already convicted.

"FURTHERMORE," said Rauh and assistants, "grand jury investigations are pending in the United States District Courts for the Middle District of Florida (Tampa) and the Southern District of New York. The Church of Scientology is well aware of these investigations, as they were a substantial factor during the plea negotiations in the aforementioned criminal case. Since the district court made its finding of guilty, a number of state attorneys general and federal agencies have initiated investigations of the church and its officials. The documents . . . will undoubtedly play substantial role in three investigations."

The church's argument that Judge Richey was "cavalier" in releasing the documents was inappropriate, the government argument said.

"Petitioner (the church) is not defendant pending trial but rather an organization who, with doubtful standing, seeks secrecy; an organisation in privity with the nine defendants — nearly all of whom are in its hierarchy — who have just been found guilty of crimes ranging from conspiracy to steal government documents, and the theft of such documents, to conspiracy to obstruct justice. It is an organization whose own files contained the damning documentary evidence which compelled the conviction of the nine criminal defendants."

IN RULING that the seizure of the documents was legal, in exhausting pretrial hearings, and now in a review of the documents, Judge Richey has become very familiar with them, the government said.

"He thus has achieved particularly advantageous position — after all these months — understand the documents in context and to make an informed decision whether to remove the shroud of secrecy from them," said the U.S. attorneys. "That on this record, he has finally chosen to do so hardly supports the petitioner's vacuous characterization of the process as 'cavalier.' "