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Overview of the Michael Foundation Trial
by Dick and Peggy Johnson


Peggy and I just returned from Oklahoma City.  We attended all but the
first day of trial.  That which follows is the writer's impression of
what took place, including some guesswork, some insights gained, the
disappointments felt and some opinions of "The rest of the Story."
Thanks to R. Burns, Claudia and Lee whose records I have used for the
days they previously reported. 

Please simply weigh any material wherein  I have expressed opinions or
seem to "color" the events.  We feel very fortunate to have been there to
hear the origins and history of Big Blue openly and freely discussed.  It
was a strange and freeing feeling to look over at the Jurors and know
they were hearing for the first time the story of its gift to humankind.
I don't know if they were impressed, but I was.  I wish readers from all
sides could have been there.  So many myths became just that.  The
mystery remains, but some of the gloss and wishful rumors are gone. I
suspect Matthew Block's book will clarify this wonderful gift even more.

Michael Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, had published "Jesus A New
Revelation," (JANR) and therefor was the "copyright infringer."  U.F. had
filed suit in Arizona and joined Harry McMullan as a party defendant.
The case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction (incorrect venue)  (M.F.
being located in Oklahoma and U.F. located in Chicago).  Michael
Foundation. filed a "Declaratory Judgment" action in Oklahoma asking that
the Court determine either that the U.F. Copyright was invalid or that
JANR did not infringe their copyright. U.F. filed a counterclaim for
violation of Copyright, Trademark and a claim of Cybersquatting
(acquiring domain names belonging to U.F.).

Jury trial in the 10th Circuit is set by rule.  The Jury can vary from
six to twelve and unless agreed upon by the parties must reach a decision
unanimously.  Apparently the parties agreed to eight. Jury selection
began Tuesday morning (June 12) and ended up with four men and four
women.  Some were quite young and most appeared middle aged.  They were
admonished to discuss the case with no one, not even among themselves,
till they retired to deliberate.

Michael Foundation, as Plaintiff presented its case first, calling only
two witnesses:  Richard Keeler and Harry McMullan.  A good part of
Richard's time was spent in identifying exhibits.  I have little
information about his testimony on Tuesday as we didn't get to Court
until commencement on Wednesday. Before trial began the Judge had ruled
that the Table of Contents could not constitute co-authorship.

Tom Allen attended part of that first day and said they spent a lot of
time arguing over the use of the word patient.  It was resolved that he
would be called "The Patient/Contact Person."    On examination by his
attorneys (there were three of them plus one who handled one witness),
Rich spent considerable time relating his first visit with Dr. Sadler in
which Sadler told him numerous details on how the U.B. came about.   When
asked his opinion about JANR, he gave a funny anecdote about someone
stealing 800 of his 2000 head of cattle - and that they'd call that
person a rustler.  On redirect he was asked about his memory and he
admitted that it was good and that he had taken a memory course.  When
asked what course,  he tried and tried, but couldn't remember.  At least
we had one good laugh that day.  It did seem strange to some of us that
Dr. Sadler, who required all forum members to take an oath of silence, to
give such details to a college student whom he had just met.
Notwithstanding these two caveats, my impression was that Rich answered
the questions honestly and didn't try to get in a lot of extraneous
material. He was emphatic that Dr. Sadler had told him that the Urantia
Papers were all in the handwriting of the Patient. (Later in the trial
the Foundation stipulated that the Patient/Contact Person was legally the
Author).  My impression was that they had tried to explain away the
Burton position that he was the author and were concerned that simply
asking questions would not support the "Work for Hire" position they had
taken in this case.  If the patient was the author, then they could
somehow show that they had supervision over him as a commissioned work.
("Work for Hire can be either as an employee-employer relationship or a
'not-for-pay' commissioned work).  Rich had sent an email to a reader's
inquiry, explaining that they claim of "work for hire" was because of the
first 61 pages of the book.

Harry was the second and last witness for Michael Foundation.  Except for
his introduction Harry stuck to answers to questions from his attorney
(Murry Abrovich).  He told how he had come upon U.B. and how deeply it
had touched him, especially the life of Jesus.  The shocker came on cross
examination when he was asked whether he had any reason to doubt the
story of how the book was written.  He said that he did.  He thought it
strange that if all the papers were in the patient's handwriting, and
they had already consulted copyright advice, that he hadn't gotten a
formal assignment from the patient and locked it up somewhere.  He felt
that the Doctor had a fiduciary relationship with the patient and should
have dealt carefully with him. But in addition all of the original
manuscript had been destroyed, the typewritten copy of the work was also
destroyed and any person having any knowledge was then sworn to secrecy
regarding the patient's identity and any knowledge about the origin of
the papers.  Then to top all this off, they wait 20 years to publish
them.  The U.F. attorneys made a good argument that notwithstanding these
seemingly suspicious events; the Doctor and the Patient had nearly 20
years of association and it was understandable that they wouldn't have
formalized their mutually understood trust. That the original copyright
was taken out in the belief that it was a "Work for Hire" and they didn't
require a formal  assignment.  Harry also said that other works have been
inspired and the writers could have obtained a copyright as the author.
That the Urantia Papers were written just as most books, even if
inspired, are written.

At this point it was, in my opinion,  that the issue of the renewal was
getting lost in the stories about the origin. If the patient was legally
"the author," then, although the copyright was valid, only his heirs or
estate could renew in 1983.  The two exceptions would be a "work for hire
as a commissioned work" or if the papers were held to be a compilation or
collection -- an encyclopedic work.  In either case, the Foundation could
renew in its own right.

An affidavit by Scott Forsythe (who worked at the U.F.) was read wherein
he reported that it was important to divert attention from the upcoming
renewal of the copyright in 1982. No other testimony seemed to clarify
why it should be secretive.

At this point Michael Foundation and McMullan concluded their part of the
trial.  This was on Thursday morning.  Carolyn Kendall was called to
testify to her Father's diary which he had kept as an early Forum member.
 Notwithstanding that they were not to take notes, he had made notes of
all the papers read at the Sunday meetings.  Some of the papers in his
diary had different titles and the page numbers were quite different --
one note of over 3,000 pages (they were typewritten).  Much was made of
subtle changes in titles, some of which appeared to be part headings.  I,
for one, was thoroughly confused as to their importance.  They, of
course, were trying to show that the papers were not complete and in a
different order.  On cross it was constantly pointed out that the "Sadler
History" and the papers themselves all indicated that they were complete
in 1934 and 1935.  The History uses the phrase "completed and certified
in 1934 and 1935.  No testimony cleared up the use of the word certified.

Gard Jameson was next examined by U.F. attorneys.  He appeared much more
warm and humanlike than Rich.  Primarily his testimony was apparently to
paint Harry as a disgruntled, vengeful malcontent.  He acknowledged that
he and Mo Siegle and Harry had at one time wanted to print the Life of
Jesus as a separate volume but that they had changed their minds.  He
also denied having donated funds for the Maahera defense - admitting that
he donated to help JJ Johnson.  He also said that the U.F. had apologized
to JJ. for mistakenly including him in the Maaherra lawsuit. Others were
somewhat upset with his apparent disrespect toward the Fellowship.
(Frankly, I was embarrassed by his apparent willingness to vilify an old

Next was Rob Davis from Oxford Press.  His testimony was to establish
that JANR would hurt the sale of Urantia books. He was followed by
another expert witness to establish the economics of book sales.  They
flew him in from Cairo Egypt!  Turned out that he got most of his
information from Rob Davis and then we discovered that Rob was a reader
of U.B. and knew the Foundation.  Ah, what a tangled web (please
disregard). Keeler had testified that the 2,600 of JANR didn't effect
book sales.  Tonya, on the other hand, said that it did and that Keeler
was just a Trustee and wouldn't know about such things.

A former employee of Harry's gave testimony of a luncheon with Harry in
which Harry had threatened to keep the Foundation in Court.  Les Tibbles
wrote the Foundation about his conversation and repeated all the details
on the stand.

(I may have some of these witnesses out of the order they appeared)

Tiki Harris and Mary Lou Hales who were forum members testified about all
the years of questions and receipt of papers.  They were both grand
ladies and all of us enjoyed having them there.  They, of course, were to
establish the "work for hire" claims.  No questions no papers is what the
written history (attributed to Dr. Sadler)  had stated.  They of course
meant if there were no questions they wouldn't have gotten any papers.
But it could have meant until they finished questioning, the next paper
wouldn't be given yet.  Oh, well, I don't think the Dr. wrote it anyway.
Most do, I know.

Next was Tonya Baney.  She rambled quite a bit instead of answering
questions directly.  She, too, painted a picture of an angry, vengeful
McMullan out to destroy the Foundation.  Next up was Ann Garner whose
sole testimony was likewise to paid a similar picture of Harry.  My
disappointment was over Les, Gard and Ann.  They seemed perfectly willing
to disclose private conversations - not just in answer to direct
questions, but went out of their ways to "spill the beans."  Ah,
friendship, why must courts steal you from us?

Now the star of the show:  Barbara Newsome.  Seems she and Christy worked
diligently amassing letters, journals, records, and writings trying to
prepare a history of the movement.  Her testimony was abruptly terminated
after a long conference of the five attorney's and the Judge (Judge
West). After a 15 minute recess Barbara resumed the stand and began
recounting from her memory all of the different steps of receipt of the
papers which she said continued into 1942.  Because all this was hearsay,
the Court admonished the Jury to disregard it.

(With the Jury absent the Foundation tried to get a memo by Barbara
introduced.  She had testified that the records, journal, etc. were kept
in a locked file drawer in a back room on the second floor of 533 and
that Christy announced (on Dec. 30, 1979) that they "had disappeared."
Barbara claims to have immediately written a 30 page memo of her memory
of those records and the Doctor's Journal. But for 22 years she has never
told the Fellowship, the Trustees or any other person that she had done
this until on Friday of last week.  The Judge disallowed the memo or
further testimony. Those in attendance have dubbed it "the secret
document file that disappeared" theory.

The Foundation then rested their side of the case.  Harry was called in
rebuttal.  He covered some of Tibbles testimony and also Gard's denial of
donating to help Maaherra ($1,500 worth).  A letter from Harry to Gard
was introduced indicating that he was still friendly to Gard but
determined to break the hold the Foundation had over readers.  On Cross
Harry admitted he had sent an e-mail to a friend saying he'd like to
drive a Ryder truck to the Foundation headquarters.  (Remember, the trial
started Tuesday rather than Monday because of the execution Monday of
McVeigh).  That was quite a shocker to those in the court room-especially
the Jurors.  Harry expressed his regrets over having used such black

The Foundation ended their surrebuttal.  Both sides made motions for
directed verdict which were denied.  The survey about Urantia religion
was not introduced or alluded to.  Thus ended the fifth day.

Day six began with instructions to the Jury.  The Judge first told them
that the trademark, trade name and cybersquatting issues had been
resolved.  (That resolution is to be confidential - for how long, we do
not know)  He indicated that they had a series of questions to answer

1)  Did the U. papers constitute a work for hire or a commissioned work?

2)  Did the U. papers constitute a compiled work- a periodic,
encyclopedic or composite work. ?

If yes to either 1 or 2, then check the box on the verdict form
indicating the copyright renewal was valid.
If no to both, then check the box indicating the renewal was invalid

If yes to 1 or 2 they went to the questions pertaining to liability;
whether deliberate and willful.  (Statutory damages from $200 (if under
color of right) up to $750,000. 

He then read instructions on the law for nearly  an hour .  I wish I had
a copy to share with you.  As I listened to them I felt they were
succinct and clear and would enable even laymen to understand them.  A
couple of them you could identify as having been insisted upon by the
Foundation and several of them were obviously propounded by Harry's team.
 All in all I thought that they were fair to both sides and would make
the Jury's task very clear.

Murray Abowitz used 35 minutes to make his closing argument.  He used
Rich Keeler's and Gard's testimony to show that the papers were meant to
be a whole - not a compiled series of stories.  He again apologized for
Harry's Ryder Truck statement.  He focused on the fact that the
Revelatory Commission "drove" the work -- they decided what to write,
what questions to answer or not, and how to answer the questions.  The
patient nor the Doctor, nor the Contact Commission, nor the Forum had
anything to do with the writings. 

Steve Hill argued for 50 minutes, using charts and exhibits.  He argued
that Christy took notes concerning the first 57 papers; furnished the
shorthand equipment and the printing costs as a commissioned work.  He
indicated that this was not a copyright case but a case of revenge. His
argument proceeded smoothly and convincingly.  But he spent not a word in
trying to argue that it was a composite or compiled work. Murry made sure
the Jury noted this failure when he took his remaining 15 minutes of
rebuttal.  He spent some time on the difference between copyright and
public domain.  He also pointed out that if a juror wrote a book but the
publisher paid for printing it, the author is the writer not the
publisher.  He also reminded them that Christy said she didn't change a
word, so she was not involved in the writing of any of the papers.  He
then explained the burden of proof - by preponderance of the evidence. 

At 2:40 the Jury retired to deliberate.  They sent one message to the
Judge saying they are "far from reaching a verdict."  They asked for
copies of the 1955 U.B. and a 1983 copy, Sadler's history, Carolyn
Kendall's history, Keeler's email about the table of contents and the
Declaration of Trust. They were dismissed for the night. My feeling after
hearing his instructions and the form of the interrogatories was that
their task was going to be difficult, but at least they would know
exactly what they had to decide as facts.

We arrived in Court about ten a.m.  Other than the lawyers only Peggy and
I were there.  The Jury was still out.  We also learned of negotiations
for settlement that had occurred after Harry had completed his side of
the case.  Several proposals were made, one of which would enable the
Foundation to keep the copyright. None of them came to fruition.  It had
delayed trial for almost a half day.  By noon, no decision was reached.
The day before there were around 30 spectators in attendance. By noon
there were only six or seven of us.   We all had lunch.

The Jury sent a question about how to renew a copyright.  The Judge and
the lawyers agreed they should just re-read certain instructions already
given them.  They then asked whether they had to consider the 1955
copyright.  About two o'clock we heard that they had reached a decision.
Stacy called Harry and Mindy Williams called Hal and Tara.  These plus
John were the only spectators when the Jury filed in.  Harry was on his
way but didn't get to hear the verdict read.  The Judge asked if they had
reached a decision; the foreman announced they had.  He handed the
interrogatories and verdict to the bailiff who passed it to the clerk.
The clerk handed it to the judge who read it (for about an hour, it
seemed).  The clerk stood to take the verdict but the Judge waived his
hand and said that he would read it.  He then read To Interrogatory
Number One - Answer No.  To Interrogatory Number Two - Answer No.
Verdict the copyright is invalid.

End of Trial of the Century.

>From all these facts and histories and testimony I came away with some
personal observartions:

1)  So long as keeping the "text inviolate" is equated with keeping the
"copyright."  there was bound to be problems.  Bill Sadler forsaw that in
some of his writings.  Martin Myers made sure it would end up in court
fights.  They have now had King, Burton, CUBS, Maaherra/Johnson, Michael
Foundation in Arizona and now M.F. in Oklahoma.  And the copyright
"mandate" is suspect from the very beginning.

2)  One impression we, who were there, agree on is that Harry's case
contrasted favorably with that of the Foundation. Harry seldom wandered
from the facts of copyright and copyright renewal.  He tried not to paint
the Foundation as an Evil Empire nor discredit their witnesses unless it
bore some relation to the legal questions.  It must have been difficult
not to go into the past and all the heartrending events of the past 20
years.  The Foundation, on the other hand, while dealing with copyright
spent almost an equal amount of testimony and time in attacking Harry.

We were home by five on Wednesday ready to pack up and leave Oklahoma.
Instead we were invited to a spur-of-the-moment pot luck, with Claudia
and Lee as prime cooks.  About 20 people came and we rehashed some of the
events of the all the congratulations to Harry he would say:
"No, I didn't win.  We did.  Now what are we going to do with our
new-faught freedom." 
3)  At the end of this seven days of listening and wondering I have to
ask this question:  "If, as the papers and Dr. Sadler and Christy all
say, the papers were "indited and put into English in 1934 and 1935, WHY
all these questions?  To me, there are two equally plausible answers. One
is evolutionary and the other just plain arbitrary.

On Page 1 of the Foreword they say:  "I have been they may
be hereinafter used ....which the Orvonton corps of truth revealers have
been authorized to TRANSLATED INTO the English language of
Urantia.(Emphasis added)

 They had the papers done before ever they contacted us humans.
1)  Because of restrictions they are not at liberty to just plunk down a
complete revelation without contact with the then prevalent level of
"earned knowledge."  Thus they could only disclose what they already had
prepared when these humans (the forum) showed that they knew enough to
ask questions about subjects they were prepared to disclose to us.

2)  Because the papers were so all-inclusive they needed questions to
know what to include.  If "no questions; no papers" means what this
implies, then the papers were considerably longer  but they only gave the
subject those which the forum were interested in enough to pose

Thus, perhaps the papers were complete by Celestials who gave us just
what we could handle.  This also explains Sadler's statement "no
questions; no papers", and why Part IV was given as a whole and needed no

If this is the case, I wonder what additional material we would have had,
if they asked even more searching and far-seeing questions.