Debbie Cook Files to dissolve Restraining Order

Here is the latest on Debbie Cook from the Village Voice written by Tony Ortega:

Yesterday, Debbie Cook began her defense against Scientology’s lawsuit which seeks $300,000 in damages because she dared to speak out to her fellow church membersin an e-mail sent on New Year’s Eve.

Cook, through her newly hired San Antonio attorney, Ray B. Jeffrey, filed to dissolve the temporary restraining order that Scientology was granted a week ago which prevents her from talking to anyone — even her own husband — about the case or about Scientology. Friday morning, a hearing will be held over Cook’s motion, but we are learning that the real fireworks are coming next Thursday, when a hearing about a temporary injunction will give Cook the opportunity to introduce evidence that Jeffrey characterizes as “beyond the pale of what a human being should endure.”

We spoke at length with Jeffrey today about Cook’s plans to fight back against Scientology, and about his own preparations for what he acknowledges is likely to be a long, and brutal contest.

According to Jeffrey’s website, he’s a veteran of more than 75 trials since 1989, and served as the mayor of Bulverde, a San Antonio suburb, for a couple of years.

But I asked him what his experience is in litigation with the Church of Scientology.

“None. I’ve had a mild interest over the years. I’ve always been aware of Scientology, but that’s the full extent of it. Coincidentally I read the Reitman book on vacation last summer. It was quite fascinating,” he says, referring to Janet Reitman’s history of the church, last year’s Inside Scientology.

Jeffrey explained that when Scientology filed its lawsuit, it requested, and was granted, a temporary restraining order. “They’re only good for 14 days,” he says, “so they’re really easy to get.”

The TRO runs out next week, and the next step in the process is for there to be a hearing to see if the same restrictions on Cook will be continued in a temporary injunction, which could last the duration of the case.

In other words, Cook could simply wait a few more days for the TRO to expire, and then really begin to fight the case. Instead, as a measure of how anxious she is to take on the church in this matter, she filed a motion yesterday to dissolve the TRO. That’s what will be discussed in a hearing tomorrow morning.

“What we’ve done is rather than wait around, rather than wait until next Thursday, there are so many problems with the restraining order, we’re asking that it be dissolved. We’re able to do that on only two days notice,” Jeffrey says. “We’ll argue that they didn’t follow the law in getting this TRO and that they didn’t follow the rules for any kind of injunctive relief.”

Jeffrey explained that the TRO is stunningly broad. “It prohibits her from going and getting a lawyer and defending herself in the lawsuit. It’s that broad. She’s barred from talking to anyone, even her husband. That on its face is completely inappropriate,” he says.

Also, he points out, the church has not explained how it is being harmed by Cook’s actions so far, which amounts to an e-mail sent to her fellow church members that complained that her religion had gotten away from its underlying principles.

“The church has an obligation to show what is the irreparable harm that will occur if she is not enjoined from speaking. They don’t even make an attempt to spell out what that is. It’s just an abusive TRO. I hope that it will be dissolved. If not, it just stays in place until next Thursday, the hearing for the temporary injunction.”

I asked him for a preview of what might come out in that hearing next week, and he said they would enter evidence for how Cook and her husband Wayne Baumgarten were compelled to sign such seemingly draconian non-disclosure agreements.

“The shame of it is, she’s still a faithful Scientologist with great love for the church and doesn’t wish any ill on the church. And why they would squash her, when she has done nothing more than communicate with other Scientologists about the direction of the church, and in a very positive way,” he says. “I want to point out, however, that the Texas Constitution is even more protective of free speech than the federal Constitution.”

And if the court denies her requests?

“We could seek extraordinary relief from the appellate court, and I’m confident that would be granted,” he says.

I asked Jeffrey if he was aware of Scientology’s litigation history — its reputation for “scorched earth” tactics.

“I fully understand that they’re going to argue and fight over everything, and they’re a multiple billion dollar organization,” he says.

And Debbie? Is she up for a prolonged fight?

“For 17 years she supervised well over a thousand employees, managed a budget of 150 million dollars a year, worked extreme hours, had incredible pressures,” Jeffrey says. “You know that saying, that which does not kill you makes you stronger? Well, she’s ready.”

And the other side? I asked him about George Spencer, the local attorney that Scientology hired. (I’ve put in a call to Spencer and will update this if I hear from him.)

“He’s a respected lawyer in San Antonio,” Jeffrey says. “He’s the son of one of the founders of the firm, Clemens and Spencer. His wife is a probate court judge in San Antonio. And I’ll tell you something interesting. His co-counsel, Mark Cannan, was the attorney for the San Antonio Express-News. He is knowledgeable about First Amendment law, and he should know better, in my opinion.”

Debbie Cook Coverage in the Village Voice

January 1: Scientology rocked by allegations of greed in e-mail to 12,000 church members

January 3: Is Scientology imploding? Watching the panic after a former executive dares to question church management

January 4: Scientology in crisis: Debbie Cook’s transformation from enforcer to whistleblower

January 6: Scientology in turmoil: Debbie Cook’s e-mail, annotated

January 31: Scientology sues Debbie Cook over her New Year’s Eve e-mail

Also, please see our primer, “What is Scientology?

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications.

7 responses to “Debbie Cook Files to dissolve Restraining Order

  1. Aidita, you ae a wonderful reporter and writer… please continue with this Blog.

  2. Sorry it is Scientology. Just because it has good in the tech don’t make it an angel. I am figuring out more and more all the time.

    Scientology was born in the cold war area and had that type of thinking put in it. It is now the 21st century and things are much different and the church never updated itself.

    Only the good people in it made it less draconian. I remember going to join the SO in the early 70’s and on my way to the new CC I saw people in the SO yelling and screaming at everyone. Let’s say I did not stay. I called him and my family got me a flight home. They the church would not lift a finger to help me find my way back to the air port.

    A peson did tell me and I was lucky to have enough money to find the bus and get back to LAX. I had no idea of where I was as i never went through a big city on my own before and one I sure did not know. IT was the beginning of my seeming be able to find my way though personal crises.

    The church don’t care and it did not do so then. Specific people did care and that was not the church itself.

    • There is a basic mismatch in SCN.
      One side there is the tech and the knowledge which is supposed to free thetans from traps and barriers and to establish stable data, in short: to ackknowledge the THETAN as an spritiual being. THATS GREAT. I totally agree.

      On the other side there is an administrative FRAME, which gives a shit on individuals regarding his relationship to ORGS, Sea Org, staff or publics, especially if the individual is not in agreement with policy. In that case , you experienced it, the person is blamed only and dropped like a hot potatoe.
      This is called 3rd dynamic tech, especially ethics- and justice policy and flag orders. The misleading data is that LRH denounces in KSW 1, the practice of communism attitude, namely THE GROUP IS EVERYTHING , THE INDIVIDUAL IS NOTHING.
      But this is exactly what is being practiced in SCN inside the ADMINISTRATIVE FRAME.

      I know 2ex SO members. They spent 15-20 years in the SEA ORG and then left. Both accomplished ARC Straightwire as PC´s on the bridge. On top they had to pay Freeloader Bill.


      • I would agree. I am a proponent of the resource based economy which the person themselves are important as well as the group. Both is important and choice by the person is important.

        That 3rd dynamic tech is failed tech as far as I am concerned. That is what is the most outdated of the bunch.

        The new way to govern in Society is by consensus and that is not that. Anon and Occupy is an example of such so that means the person is important as well as the group.

        I am glad I did not stay. I see holes in it now. I used to think it was the salvation of everything that bothered me but now I see it is not.

        I see people in it refuse to update their view on the world as well so the world is moving beyond them.

        We are slaves in this society anyhow. We have very little choice on what we do but one has to do it or die.

        I give up on trying to explain such with most of those who were in the church. I refuse to do it any more unless they indicate themselves they are welcome to be updated in thinking.

        Auditing is great but how ti is used and the education/Life experience of the person counts. I have seen OT’s still very brainwashed.

  3. ………….which prevents her from talking to anyone — even her own husband —………….

    This isn´t Scientology.

    Its more worse than Hitler and Stalin combined.

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