Scientologists' Charge is Called Interference

Source: Globe and Mail
Date: November 8, 1984

The Church of Scientology of Toronto pressed contempt of court charges against two Ontario Government lawyers in an attempt to interfere with criminal proceedings involving the church, the Supreme Court of Ontario was told yesterday.

David Doherty, the lawyer for the two Government officials, alleged that church lawyer Clayton Ruby deliberately provoked a confrontation after he discovered that an official at the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations had been granted access to documents a Supreme Court judge had earlier ordered sealed.

Mr. Doherty said the church and Mr. Ruby realized that if they precipitated a legal action involving the Crown prosecutor in the case, they might be able to recover documents seized by the Ontario Provincial Police.

Mr. Ruby, who spent the entire day in the witness box, denied the allegation.

The church is asking Mr. Justice John Cromarty to find a Crown prosecutor, Casey Hill, and a Consumer Ministry lawyer, Jerome Cooper, in criminal contempt of court over the release of documents a court said should have been kept confidential.

If convicted, the two men would face a a fine or a jail sentence.

Last summer, the church persuaded Mr. Justice John Osler of the Supreme Court to seal some of the documents seized in a March, 1983, raid by the OPP on the church's Yonge Street headquarters.

In addition, 232 documents were ruled to fall within the traditional bounds of solicitor and client privilege.

Last August, Mr. Justice Jean- Charles Sirois granted a Consumer Ministry official access to seized church documents - including one Judge Osler had said was privileged - as part of an investigation into a long- standing church application that it be allowed by the Government to perform marriages. The church was not informed of the decision.

More than 200,000 documents were seized in the OPP raid but many of them have been sealed while claims on their privileged nature are investigated.

In addition, a court order authorizing the OPP to retain the documents is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The police would be allowed to retain the documents if charges were laid before then, but none have been yet.

Mr. Doherty suggested yesterday that the church's attempt to cite Mr. Hill and Mr. Cooper for contempt would have immobilized the Crown's investigation and increased the chances that no charges would be laid by the end of the year.

Mr. Ruby testified that he moved quickly - with a series of sternly worded letters that set deadlines for reply - to investigate how the Consumer Ministry received the church documents because he considered the matter to be a serious breach of a court order. "My clients could not believe this was happening to them; they were furious," Mr. Ruby said. "They could not believe the quality of justice in Ontario would allow this to happen to them." The church (through lawyer Morris Manning) filed a notice of motion relating to the contempt charge on Sept. 17, forcing a postponement of a scheduled Oct. 1 hearing into a church application that the original OPP search warrant used in the raid be quashed.

Mr. Ruby said he did not quietly consult Crown officials in person as he had done on other matters relating to the handling and distribution of the seized documents because "this is certainly a different matter from whether the cost of a Xerox should be 4 cents or 10 cents. This is a serious matter." Mr. Ruby rejected Mr. Doherty's contention that there might be a reasonable explanation for the release of the sealed documents - there might have been duplicate copies of some documents that were not sealed.

Mr. Ruby said that explanation was "reasonable only if one assumes a level of incompetence that is very high."

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