Commentary on the PLANS trial
The following is a commentary originally posted on the PLANS "Waldorf Critics" (WC) mailing list, reprinted here with the permission of author Linda Clemens.

ON PLANS' EVIDENCE THAT ANTHROPOSOPHY IS A RELIGION


"This is so far fetched, I don't know why we're spending so much time, but I wanted to give you every opportunity. "
THE HONORABLE FRANK C. DAMRELL, JR., JUDGE - remarks to counsel for the Plaintiff about his proffered evidence, court transcript, PLANS vs Sacramento Unified School District, et al. The entire trial lasted 30 minutes.

Dan Dugan story 9/15/05: [quoted from the PLANS WC list]

"We have plenty of witnesses and evidence."
Dan Dugan story 7/1/05: [PLANS WC list]
"We have plenty of good evidence without the expense of experts"
PLANS story 9/14/05: [PLANS press release]
"...during the opening of its September 12 trial, People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS) refused to present its case without key witnesses and evidence that had been excluded"
The TRUE Story: The judge issued the order excluding 11 witnesses and over 100 pieces of evidence in APRIL, not during the trial.
 

ON JUDGE DAMRELL'S COMPETENCE


Dan Dugan characterizes the judge's exclusions 7/1/05: [WC list]
"It's the lawyers' job to attempt to include as much evidence as they can throw in, and it's the judge's job to winnow it down."
Dan Dugan characterizes the judge 8/23/05: [WC list]
"I'm again impressed by the work of this judge. We've got a smart one."
PLANS characterizes the judge and the exclusions 9/14/05: [press release]
"...we believe the judge erred and treated us unfairly when he ruled out some of the witnesses and evidence."
The TRUE Story: PLANS has simply put a new spin on an old ruling because they failed so badly when they showed up in court. It became obvious from the first 5 minutes of the case, PLANS had no credible evidence to present on the key threshold issue: Is Anthroposophy a religion? Unless they could present such evidence, the entire case was over. PLANS had witnesses and evidence lined up. But it soon admitted, PLANS had no witnesses available to testify to the issue whether anthroposophy is a religion. This was PLANS' own admission at trial. PLANS failed to make its case on the threshold question. And thus, there can be no part two phase to address the other issues in the trial. Thus PLANS' other witnesses don't matter. The Case Is Over.

PLANS came to court with all kinds of witnesses and exhibits. The judge asks PLANS to explain how they pertained to the key threshold issue. PLANS admitted their witnesses and exhibits did NOT sufficiently address the question of whether Anthroposophy was a religion. PLANS also admitted 

"It's obviously an issue we've been working on ourselves very diligently since you've made your evidentiary rulings."
And PLANS further stated in court that their entire case depended on the testimony of two witnesses the judge excluded 6 months earlier, (witnesses that PLANS never found valuable enough to even INCLUDE on their witness list until a good 6 years AFTER the witnesses had given full testimony in deposition, and about a FULL YEAR after it became too late to introduce them as witnesses legally). And to further illustrate how flimsy PLANS' claim is, even these two were grabbed from the DEFENSE list.
 

"WE OPTED OUT"


Dan's claim 9/15/05: [WC list]
"We chose to abort because we won't participate in a prejudiced trial."
The TRUE story: PLANS admitted in court, several times, that they HAD nothing to present to the question "Is Anthroposophy a religion?" without those witnesses. And clearly, PLANS did NOT "abort". The judge asked, Do You Have Evidence to present on the threshold issue?, and PLANS showed the court that their pockets were empty.

Further TRUE story: the judge was so anxious at this point to help resuscitate PLANS' drowning case, he began to coax them where else they might look for some evidence.

Judge speaking to PLANS: "Anything you would add, be it aside your views on my rulings, but I'm talking about right now as we stand on the brink of trial that can salvage your case under these circumstances? "
And it's clear PLANS didn't even abort at this point. They didn't "refuse to participate". Their attorney forged ahead. He was prepared to offer a book into evidence, optimistic that at least then the Defense would have to present a rebuttal, and there would be SOMETHING for the judge to assess on the key threshold question. Not much, but something.

The judge expressed reservations that this type of evidence would be strong enough to keep the case alive much longer, but admitted, 

"I'll be fairly liberal in light of these circumstances because I want to see this matter resolved once and for all."
But despite concerted efforts from PLANS' attorney, PLANS couldn't get this book past Defense counsel objections. I counted seven different objections to it in the transcript, including objections to its 'relevance' to the religion issue currently before the court.

The judge then returned to PLANS: 

"You have a real smorgasbord of objections. Most sound good to me, but what is your response?" 
And PLANS response is to urge the judge overrule the objections and admit the book into evidence. Against one of the seven objections raised by the defense, PLANS cited a precedent case, Malnak, to the question of 'relevance'. Unfortunately for PLANS, the judge had made it clear over a year and a half earlier that Malnak didn't apply in this case. PLANS had forgotten. But this challenge over the applicability of Malnak was largely beside the point anyway, because there were at least another six objections to the same proposed piece of evidence, objections addressing distinctly different problems with it.

This is the judge's reply to PLANSí attempt to enter the book into evidence, evidence which was all PLANS had, PLANSí very last hope they had to salvage their case:

"This is hearsay upon hearsay. The only admission here is they [the library in one of the Waldorf methods schools PLANS was suing] happened to have this book. This is so far fetched, I don't know why we're spending so much time, but I wanted to give you every opportunity. 

"But I've heard enough to say that it would be ludicrous to say this in any fashion establishes that anthroposophy is a religion on the possession of a book without any further foundational support for the admission of the book, plus the fact it contains the writings of a person not called as a witness. I don't know how this would ever get into court on this issue of magnitude and importance.

"Is this your only evidence, counsel?"

PLANS attorney-> "Yes, it is Your Honor."

The judge-> "Basically, that's your -- you rest after this proposed exhibit?" 

PLANS attorney-> "Yes, Your Honor. "


A WASTE OF TAXPAYER AND PUBLIC SCHOOL RESOURCES


Dan's story 9/15/05: [WC list]
"We opted out."
The TRUE story: PLANS rested its case.

PLANS has done nothing but waste the court's time and wastefully drain resources away from the public schools. Throughout the entire case, [PLANS] did nothing but obstruct. Filings were always late. Disclosures weren't forthcoming. [PLANS] wasted the schools' time filling [their] exhibit list with irrelevant nonsense like Melville's Moby Dick and d'Aulaire's Greek Myths. Issued Court Orders were ignored. Fines went unpaid.

Moby Dick?

Yes, Moby Dick. And if during trial, the judge ruled to exclude it for lack of 'relevance', [PLANS would] be citing Malnak and wailing about 'prejudice' and vowing to take the issue straight to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

PLANS dropped Moby Dick from its [evidentiary] list before trial. Actually, PLANS dropped it about the same time and probably for the same reasons the Defendants dropped two of their witnesses. The same two witnesses PLANS now pretends are the Only Witnesses there are in the Entire World who can present testimony proving anthroposophy is a religion. Logical consistency demands we also conclude, then, that Moby Dick is the Only Evidence in the Entire World that can prove Anthroposophy isn't a religion, evidence so damaging, this would have to explain why PLANS withdrew it.

(Thank you for including garbage like this Moby Dick in your exhibit list, Dan. I enjoy using the bounty YOU provide to expose the buffoonery and bogus reasoning your whole case is built upon.)

PLANS doesn't engage in rational, logical, critical OR legal reasoning to present their issues. They engage in prejudiced reasoning.

And see what it brought? It brought thirty minutes of agonizing humiliation in a Court of Law.
 

PLANS LOST ITS CASE


"We opted out."
We've already established this is false.

PLANS can continue to pretend all they like, but the fact is that there has been a trial. A full court trial. PLANS and the schools are currently awaiting the final word, but by all appearances, it's virtually assured the judge will be deciding this case soon. The defense filed a Rule 52(c) motion, and the judge indicated "Obviously. I am going to grant [this motion]."

And when he does, PLANS will have legally, and officially, LOST the case. It's not even a dismissal. It's a verdict -- against the Plaintiff, PLANS.

The show is over, but it sounds like PLANS is reeling it up to run it again. Or is it "again and again"? 

Whoever is the last one to leave, be sure and turn out the lights.


Posted by  L G Clemens,  Sep 16, 2005 12:55 PDT