Scientologists Lose Rounds In Lawsuit Against City

Source: St. Petersburg Times
Date: March 25, 1988

Current and former city commissioners may not be forced to reveal their motives for passing a controversial charitable solicitations ordinance when they give depositions to the Church of Scientology, a federal magistrate has ruled.

The same magistrate, Thomas G. Wilson, also has ruled in Tampa that the Church of Scientology cannot refuse to submit documents requested by the city as it prepares to fight a lawsuit filed by the Scientologists.

Wilson's order "hopefully ... is a sign that this case will finally proceed forward," said lawyer Alan S. Zimmet, who is one of two special attorneys the city hired to work on the Scientology case.

The organization's lawsuit was filed after the City Commission passed an ordinance in 1983 requiring registration and financial disclosure by non-profit organizations. Passage of that ordinance followed five days of commission hearings in which former Scientologists testified about alleged criminal activities within the organization.

The Church of Scientology has maintained an international headquarters in Clearwater since 1975.

The magistrate's ruling is important because the city's ability to prepare for the case has been slowed by the Scientologists' refusal to turn over any documents. The Church of Scientology filed approximately 2,000 objections to the city's document requests.

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