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Lid is clamped on release of more Scientology material

Title: Lid is clamped on release of more Scientology material
Date: Wednesday, 7 November 1979
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Charles Stafford
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WASHINGTON — There was a temporary lid imposed Tuesday on further public release of documents seized by the government from the Church of Scientology for the prosecution of nine church leaders.

The lid could become permanent.

Among those documents made public have been some that revealed a church plan to maneuver government officials and news media to "take control" of Clearwater, as well as programs to discredit public officials and private individuals in Pinellas County whom church officials regarded as enemies of Scientology. They included papers and memoranda of The St. Petersburg Times that apparently were obtained illegally.

The nine leaders, including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, were convicted Oct. 26 under special plea arrangement of conspiring to spy on the government and steal government documents. They agreed to be found guilty by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey, but reserved their right to appeal the convictions on grounds that FBI raids on church headquarters in Washington and Los Angeles on July 8, 1977 were illegal.

UNDER THE agreement, the defendants stipulated that a group of documents produced by the government was the evidence the government would have used if there had been a trial. They agreed not to contest it.

But Judge Richey also released other documents seized by the FBI, including some 48,000 taken from church headquarters in Los Angeles. Attorneys for the defendants and the church objected to this release.

On Oct. 31, the judge rejected their plea that he seal those documents, but did agree to go through them and withhold those whom release might injure innocent persons.

Six of the 39 boxes of documents were made public late last week.

The church and the nine church leaders appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. They asked the court to direct Judge Richey to seal the remaining documents. Judge Richey has notified the appellate court that he will release no more of them until it has ruled.

That ruling could come late this week or sometime next week.

THE CHURCH AND the defendants stated in their appeal that the "documents now in the process of revelation to the press and public . . . relate, in large part, to matters totally outside the indictment, such as controversies between the church and private individuals and groups which could not conceivably be the subject of the recent criminal litigation or, indeed, of any federal interest."

They said Judge Richey had not indicated any legally cognizable reason for disclosure "of the private papers and affairs of the church."

"Of what avail is an ultimate decision by the Supreme Court that the search and seizure was invalid if the very documents involved in the search and seizure are prematurely released by the court below?" they asked.

They had made the same argument about their appeal in requesting Judge Richey to halt release of the documents. He replied in his order that he disagreed and he gave this example of why:

"If the police illegally seized heroin from someone's home, the remedy under the exclusionary rule is that the heroin may not be introduced at trial. And if it is wrongfully introduced at trial the appellate court will reverse the conviction. The Fourth Amendment does not require that the public never know that heroin was found at that location. If that were the law, all suppression hearings would not be open to the public. Such an argument greatly expands the relief available for Fourth Amendment violations, and is not the law. Such an expansion would violate the public interest in the right of the public to know the nature of court proceedings and is simply unwarranted."