Trial news update, June 18,
Claudia Ayers & Lee Smith reporting, live from OKC. (Harry is currentlymeeting with his attorneys regarding closing arguments.)
This is our first day in attendance at the trial, now in the 5th day. LastFriday, Harry’s attorney’s rested their case and the UF was resuming theircase: continuing with Tonia Baney’s testimony. She didn’t actually take thestand until about 1:30 today because of Judge West’s attempts to evolve asettlement between the parties, right through the lunch hour. These effortsfailed and the jury was brought in for continuation of testimony.
Tonia took the stand and was reminded of her previous statements to theeffect that the publication of JANR was an attractive publication whichappealed to Christians. The UF attempted to provide the argument that JANRwas cutting into their market, but this was countered by Harry’s attorneyswho showed they had prerogative to publish the UP with any type of bookcover they wanted. Other publication topics were reviewed and this testimonyseemed neither here nor there as far as helpfulness. Tonia dodged questionsand rambled a great deal, contributing as little as she could whenever shewas cross examined by Harry’s litagator, Murray. She frequently had to bepressed to actually answer the questions she was asked. She claimed not toknow or remember events or issues a fair amount.
Next up was Ann Garner who gave a personal account of her readershipactivities, her friendship with Harry, and how she was in court to testifyabout some conversations she had with Harry about her desire to see the UFand Fellowship work out their differences. She recounted how herconversations with Harry were such that he said he wanted to destroy theFoundation, and how Harry no longer felt that Gard was "his brother." Herimage as the kind, soft-spoken healer-leader who felt that Harry had gonedown a negative path was effective. She painted a pretty negative picture ofHarry; it was more opinionated than factual, because she put a spin on thestatements by the way she presented them. She also clearly feels theFoundation justifiably owned the rights to the copyright. She was anexcellent spokesman for the Foundation and gave the jury a very negativeimpression of Harry, even if none of her testimony had much relevance to thelegal issues.
Next called was Barbara Newsom. She took the stand and told how she foundthe book, how much it helped her get past the death of her sister, and howshe became involved at the Foundation as a college student, and even as anemployee. She was a close friend of Christy’s and Doc Sadler. Then shestarted to recount how her interest in developing a history of the UPsevolved because of the involvement she had with the voluminous journals andmanuscripts of Doc Sadler. After the Doctor’s death, she and Christyorganized these materials, putting them in order and so forth, and workingwith them every day. Suddenly Harry’s attorneys asked to approach the benchand all the attorneys on both sides, plus the court reported had a littlediscussion with the judge (we could not hear the conversation of these 7men). When it was finally over, after maybe 10 minutes, then Steve Hill (forthe 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 theyhad 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 processinvolving 3 phases: including an initial presentation of papers; then, basedon Q’s & A’s the rest of the papers were delivered (including the JesusPapers); and then she claimed there was a clarification period (through1942) where papers were amended and condensed (including the Jesus papers).Her testimony was challenged as hearsay by Harry’s attorneys and the Judgeasked the jury to ignore it.
Harry’s attorneys recalled Harry to the stand to rebut some of the previoustestimony, including previous deleterious statements by Les Tibbels, ToniaBaney 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 thathis (Harry's) records show no payments on behalf of JJ, but only toKristen’s attorney. Harry also remembers that when Asoka was subpoenaed togive the names of those who made donations to Kristen, this event was knownas the “round 'um up and brand them move,” and that even Gard said: “Thatwould include me.” Harry also was asked to read from a letter he wrote toGard saying how he would always have high personal regard for Gard, but thathe was bound by his convictions to break the Foundation’s control over otherreaders. It was a thoughtful and warm letter and it seemed to cast Harry ina much warmer and understanding light than the previous testimonies had.
Harry was then cross-examined by UF attorneys, who asked about his opinionsand some things he had written or said about the Foundation. Harry admittedhe had said things he regretted and that he has let his temper get the bestof him at times. They then pulled out their biggest gun of the day and askedhim about an E-mail he wrote to a friend (which someone had copied to theGeneral Council) in which he made reference to his desire to drive a yellowRyder truck up to 533, a la Tim McVeigh. Harry went to some pains to expresshis regret for ever having written such a misguided statement in attemptedhumor and that he would never hurt any other human being. This obviously didnot help Harry’s case, even though, again, it has nothing to do with theissues of copyright law.
We don’t know how this E-mail came into the hands of the UF attorneys, butclearly it was intended for one of Harry’s friends. It was a dark humor jabthat was just part of an E-mail, but the UF jumped on it and it has hurtHarry because the jury will remember it, no matter how irrelevant to thecase law.
The UF rested after bringing up the yellow Ryder truck statement and thejury was told by the Judge that they would be coming back tomorrow todeliberate. They would hear closing arguments, then they would hear his juryinstructions and that they were not to come to any conclusions until theyheard as much. The judge speaks effectively with the jury and shows that herespects them with the way he talks to them. We were unable to discern anyjury response to anything said all day. They appeared to listen attentively.Their eyes always looked as exhibits were presented. Who knows how they viewall these Urantia “things” like statements about sleeping subjects, highorders of angels, contact commissions, stories about Adam and Eve and aboutLucifer, 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 knowhow 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 ofus)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 shehad shared with them for the first time last Friday night. She had nevershared any of the following with anyone else before, but thought maybe sheshould now. Had she been allowed to, before the jury, she would have sharedsome new information about the sleeping subject that she herself knewbecause of her early involvement as a volunteer and short time employee atthe Foundation working for Christy. She had complete familiarity with DocSadler’s complete personal files, including his day by day journal and otherpaper’s and articles. After he died, she and Christy had organized theseitems and had them stored in Christy’s locked file cabinet in a back room ofher residence on the second floor at 533. They were going to write adetailed 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 herpersonal memory of these items all that she could remember, covering 30pages, which she presented to the UF attorneys and which they wanted toinclude in this trial as evidence that the sleeping subject was aware of theevents and activities of the contact commission, which included publishingthe papers, and that all this as just fine with him (implied collaboration).This, of course, would help their case that the “author” was performing acommissioned work, one of the tests for copyrightability.
The judge threw this testimony out as inadmissible, but it was an astoundingstory (and not very believable, by us). We have already dubbed it, the“secret document file that disappeared” theory that would have given UFenough evidence to prove its involvement with the contact person as acollaborative work. Barbara's attempted testimony was a last minute effortby UF to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
At the end of the day, opposing attorneys attempted to persuade the judgethat he should make a judgment ruling “as a matter of law”. He denied bothattempts and stated this matter will go to the jury tomorrow after closingarguments (beginning about 10am). He again impressed upon all parties thata 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 isthat UF has agreed that "the patient is the legal author of the UrantiaBook."
This is our summary of events for today. Tomorrow we hope to report theverdict.
Claudia and Lee