Site Index

Trial news update, June 18, 2001

Dear Friends;

Claudia Ayers & Lee Smith reporting, live from OKC. (Harry is currently
meeting with his attorneys regarding closing arguments.)

This is our first day in attendance at the trial, now in the 5th day. Last
Friday, Harry’s attorney’s rested their case and the UF was resuming their
case: continuing with Tonia Baney’s testimony. She didn’t actually take the
stand until about 1:30 today because of Judge West’s attempts to evolve a
settlement between the parties, right through the lunch hour. These efforts
failed and the jury was brought in for continuation of testimony.

Tonia took the stand and was reminded of her previous statements to the
effect that the publication of JANR was an attractive publication which
appealed to Christians. The UF attempted to provide the argument that JANR
was cutting into their market, but this was countered by Harry’s attorneys
who showed they had prerogative to publish the UP with any type of book
cover they wanted. Other publication topics were reviewed and this testimony
seemed neither here nor there as far as helpfulness. Tonia dodged questions
and rambled a great deal, contributing as little as she could whenever she
was cross examined by Harry’s litagator, Murray. She frequently had to be
pressed to actually answer the questions she was asked. She claimed not to
know or remember events or issues a fair amount.

Next up was Ann Garner who gave a personal account of her readership
activities, her friendship with Harry, and how she was in court to testify
about some conversations she had with Harry about her desire to see the UF
and Fellowship work out their differences. She recounted how her
conversations with Harry were such that he said he wanted to destroy the
Foundation, and how Harry no longer felt that Gard was "his brother." Her
image as the kind, soft-spoken healer-leader who felt that Harry had gone
down a negative path was effective. She painted a pretty negative picture of
Harry; it was more opinionated than factual, because she put a spin on the
statements by the way she presented them. She also clearly feels the
Foundation justifiably owned the rights to the copyright. She was an
excellent spokesman for the Foundation and gave the jury a very negative
impression of Harry, even if none of her testimony had much relevance to the
legal issues.

Next called was Barbara Newsom. She took the stand and told how she found
the book, how much it helped her get past the death of her sister, and how
she became involved at the Foundation as a college student, and even as an
employee. She was a close friend of Christy’s and Doc Sadler. Then she
started to recount how her interest in developing a history of the UPs
evolved because of the involvement she had with the voluminous journals and
manuscripts of Doc Sadler. After the Doctor’s death, she and Christy
organized these materials, putting them in order and so forth, and working
with them every day. Suddenly Harry’s attorneys asked to approach the bench
and all the attorneys on both sides, plus the court reported had a little
discussion with the judge (we could not hear the conversation of these 7
men). When it was finally over, after maybe 10 minutes, then Steve Hill (for
the Foundation) said: “No further questions,” and Barbara stepped down.

There was a 15 minute recess.

Barbara was then brought back and told that the line of discussion that they
had originally started was over, and now they would take up a new topic.
This included her description of how the papers were presented in a process
involving 3 phases: including an initial presentation of papers; then, based
on Q’s & A’s the rest of the papers were delivered (including the Jesus
Papers); and then she claimed there was a clarification period (through
1942) where papers were amended and condensed (including the Jesus papers).
Her testimony was challenged as hearsay by Harry’s attorneys and the Judge
asked the jury to ignore it.

Harry’s attorneys recalled Harry to the stand to rebut some of the previous
testimony, including previous deleterious statements by Les Tibbels, Tonia
Baney and Gard Jameson. Harry rebutted Gard’s earlier testimony that he gave
$1500 to Asoka to pass on to the defense fund of JJ Johnson by saying that
his (Harry's) records show no payments on behalf of JJ, but only to
Kristen’s attorney. Harry also remembers that when Asoka was subpoenaed to
give the names of those who made donations to Kristen, this event was known
as the “round 'um up and brand them move,” and that even Gard said: “That
would include me.” Harry also was asked to read from a letter he wrote to
Gard saying how he would always have high personal regard for Gard, but that
he was bound by his convictions to break the Foundation’s control over other
readers. It was a thoughtful and warm letter and it seemed to cast Harry in
a much warmer and understanding light than the previous testimonies had.

Harry was then cross-examined by UF attorneys, who asked about his opinions
and some things he had written or said about the Foundation. Harry admitted
he had said things he regretted and that he has let his temper get the best
of him at times. They then pulled out their biggest gun of the day and asked
him about an E-mail he wrote to a friend (which someone had copied to the
General Council) in which he made reference to his desire to drive a yellow
Ryder truck up to 533, a la Tim McVeigh. Harry went to some pains to express
his regret for ever having written such a misguided statement in attempted
humor and that he would never hurt any other human being. This obviously did
not help Harry’s case, even though, again, it has nothing to do with the
issues of copyright law.

We don’t know how this E-mail came into the hands of the UF attorneys, but
clearly it was intended for one of Harry’s friends. It was a dark humor jab
that was just part of an E-mail, but the UF jumped on it and it has hurt
Harry because the jury will remember it, no matter how irrelevant to the
case law.

The UF rested after bringing up the yellow Ryder truck statement and the
jury was told by the Judge that they would be coming back tomorrow to
deliberate. They would hear closing arguments, then they would hear his jury
instructions and that they were not to come to any conclusions until they
heard as much. The judge speaks effectively with the jury and shows that he
respects them with the way he talks to them. We were unable to discern any
jury response to anything said all day. They appeared to listen attentively.
Their eyes always looked as exhibits were presented. Who knows how they view
all these Urantia “things” like statements about sleeping subjects, high
orders of angels, contact commissions, stories about Adam and Eve and about
Lucifer, revelations, etc. They may think all parties are absolutely nuts,
or may be getting ready to buy books of their own. There is no way to know
how much they really get or understand. They don’t talk, they don’t emote.

After the jury was gone, the UF attorneys disclosed to the judge (and all of
us)where they had been attempting to go with the Barbara Newsom’s testimony.
They told how she had been prepared to testify about some things that she
had shared with them for the first time last Friday night. She had never
shared any of the following with anyone else before, but thought maybe she
should now. Had she been allowed to, before the jury, she would have shared
some new information about the sleeping subject that she herself knew
because of her early involvement as a volunteer and short time employee at
the Foundation working for Christy. She had complete familiarity with Doc
Sadler’s complete personal files, including his day by day journal and other
paper’s and articles. After he died, she and Christy had organized these
items and had them stored in Christy’s locked file cabinet in a back room of
her residence on the second floor at 533. They were going to write a
detailed history and use these materials, except that on December 30th,
1979, Christy announced to the Trustees that her files had “disappeared”
from the locked file. But Barbara stated that she immediately wrote from her
personal memory of these items all that she could remember, covering 30
pages, which she presented to the UF attorneys and which they wanted to
include in this trial as evidence that the sleeping subject was aware of the
events and activities of the contact commission, which included publishing
the papers, and that all this as just fine with him (implied collaboration).
This, of course, would help their case that the “author” was performing a
commissioned work, one of the tests for copyrightability.

The judge threw this testimony out as inadmissible, but it was an astounding
story (and not very believable, by us). We have already dubbed it, the
“secret document file that disappeared” theory that would have given UF
enough evidence to prove its involvement with the contact person as a
collaborative work. Barbara's attempted  testimony was a last minute effort
by UF to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

At the end of the day, opposing attorneys attempted to persuade the judge
that he should make a judgment ruling “as a matter of law”.   He denied both
attempts and stated this matter will go to the jury tomorrow after closing
arguments (beginning about 10am).  He again impressed upon all parties that
a settlement would be his preference for resolving this case.

We will send out the verdict (if the jury arrives at one.

Big Breaking News: Harry just came home and reports that the big news is
that UF has agreed that "the patient is the legal author of the Urantia

This is our summary of events for today. Tomorrow we hope to report the

Claudia and Lee