The Church of Scientology vs. Grady Ward

Last revised on Wednesday, July 24, 1996.
This page was originally created by Ron Newman.
Many thanks to Frank Copeland for updating this page with news from May, June, and July 1996.

Scientology sues Grady Ward

On March 21, 1996, the Church of Scientology filed a lawsuit, and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order, against netizen Grady Ward. The lawsuit accuses him of violating the Church's copyrights by producing a series of anonymous postings called "Scamizdat", which contained many documents that the Church of Scientology would rather keep secret. Grady denies that he has anything to do with "Scamizdat".

The first court hearing

The first hearing in this case was heard Friday, March 29, before U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose, California. At this hearing, Judge Whyte granted Scientology's request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting Grady from soliciting on a set of "secret" Scientology documents known as NOTs (New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans). Grady was also required to appear at a deposition by Scientology attorneys on April 8. For more details on this hearing, skip forward to 3/29/96 on the timeline below.

The deposition

On April 2, Grady received an absurdly long, broad, and detailed deposition request which demands that he produce everything under the sun by April 6, and appear for a deposition of unlimited length starting April 8. The deposition request includes a demand for e-mail that Grady has exchanged with a long list of people. The writer of the web page you are now reading is one of those listed, though misspelled as "Ron Neuman".

On April 4, Grady filed a reply to the deposition request, stating that he does not possess many of the items requested, and objects to the request for most of the others on the grounds of either non-relevance or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. He agreed to allow a Scientology attorney to inspect a few uncontested items, such as his paper shredder and scanner. Several other people posted or filed their objections to the deposition request; see the 4/4/96 entry in the timeline below.

Grady was deposed for 7.5 hours on April 8, and for an additional 3.25 hours on April 9. Both days' depositions are now available in RealAudio format; for more information, see the 4/8/96 entry in the timeline below. A Scientology lawyer called Grady a "liar" to his face, and demanded that Grady turn over to them the contents of his safe deposit box, a demand which Grady refused. A judge ruled that they could not seize Grady's safe deposit box, but the judge did temporarily "freeze" it to preserve evidence.

At the deposition, Scientology's lawyers asked Grady intrusive questions about a number of Netizens, including journalist Shelley Thomson (editor of **Biased Journalism**) and Ron Newman, the editor of the web site you are now reading. Grady also believes that Scientology may soon subpoena the records of all U.S. anonymous remailers.

Grady strikes back

The day after the deposition, Grady wrote a letter to Judge Whyte complaining about what he regarded as an abusive discovery process.

At the same time, Grady also filed an answer to Scientology's complaint, including a $50 million counterclaim against Scientology, in which he alleges that Scientology trespassed on his private property, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and conspired against his civil rights. (For those who'd rather not read legal documents, here's Grady's press release announcing the counterclaim.) The next day, Grady filed an interrogatory demanding a large number of documents from Scientology to be delivered within 30 days.

On April 18, Grady lodged a First Request for Admissions, requesting that Scientology make a number of admissions in relation its campaign against him. Grady followed this on April 25 with a Motion for Expedited Discovery in which he pointed out Scientology's long history of abuse of legal process, especially it's practice of refusing to comply with lawful discovery. Grady protested that Scientology's lawyers had indicated that they had no intention of co-operating with his own discovery, and requested that Judge Whyte restore the "level playing field".

"Vorlon" posts NOTS on Usenet

Shortly after midnight on May 5 a person or persons unknown, using the name "Vorlon", posted almost the entire NOTs series of Scientology's "Advanced Technology" materials to Usenet through an anonymous remailer. On May 11 Grady filed a motion to have himself released from the Temporary Restraining Order, on the grounds that the posting of the NOTs material on the Internet placed it in the public domain and so destroyed its trade secret status.

The motion to dissolve the injunction against Grady was posted on Usenet on May 13, and on May 14 Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin mailed Grady accusing him of breaching the terms of the TRO. She claimed that the very names of the documents listed in Grady's motion were trade secrets and protected by the TRO. Grady immediately complained to Judge Whyte about this attempt to intimidate him. On May 17 he filed a motion opposing an attempt by Scientology's lawyers to place the list of names under seal.

Scientology targets ISPs and anonymous remailers

Around May 7 1996 Scientology's lawyers filed a motion seeking expedited discovery of documents held by third parties, specifically logs and other records of Grady's ISP and of anonymous remailers that may have been used to post Scientology's "Advanced Technology" materials to Usenet. Grady objected to a number of allegations made against him in the motion, but did not oppose it. Grady had already given one remailer operator permission to disclose any mention of his name in its logs.

On May 22 Grady revealed that Scientology's lawyers had subpoena'd a number of ISPs and remailer operators to produce their records, including the University of Maryland. Ron Newman demonstrated the futility of this attempt to link Grady to the posting of its secret scriptures. On May 30 Grady received the list of those subpoenaed and the documents requested from them. One of the people subpoenaed was Homer Smith, operator of a "freezone" anonymous remailer.

Grady's ISP at the time,, complied with the subpoena, and revealed nothing more damning than that Grady spent a lot of time on the Internet.

Scientology lawyers made persistent attempts to obtain the records of the remailer operated by Julf Helsingius, despite being told that there was nothing in those records implicating Grady. Helsingius refused to co-operate, and sought the protection of the Finnish data ombudsman.

Nothing whatsoever has been found linking Grady to either SCAMIZDAT or "Vorlon".

Scientology asks for another go at Grady

Scientology's lawyers were not satisfied with the outcome of the first deposition of Grady, and sought permission to interrogate him a second time and to examine the contents of backup disks stored in his safety deposit box. On May 9 Grady once more objected to allegations made against him and opposed Scientology's motion to depose him a second time. Grady agreed to the examination of his backups, but on the condition that the examination be performed by a Special Master and not by Scientology's lawyers.

On May 25 Grady filed a second motion opposing Scientology's demand for a further deposition, in which he accused Scientology's lawyers of numerous abuses of the deposition process. Judge Infante was not persuaded, and on June 3 ordered the second deposition to proceed, no later than July 1.

Scientology searches Grady's backups

In the meantime Grady's backups were handed over to a Special Master, and Scientology's lawyers submitted a list of search terms. The list of search terms was much shorter than those used in the Lerma and Wollersheim cases, and much less interesting.

In theory the search was to be conducted in such a way that Grady's privacy was protected, without the kind of abuse seen in the Erlich, Lerma and Wollersheim cases. However, Grady revealed in an IRC session on the #scientology channel that the search was being conducted just down the hall from the office of one of Scientology's lawyers, with Scientologist lawyer Helena Kobrin looking over the technician's shoulder. See the July 10 issue of **Biased Journalism** for this (edited) IRC log.

As of July 1, Grady reports that nothing of interest to Scientology has been found.

Grady is deposed a second time

The second deposition of Grady took place on June 27. Damon Chetson transcribed and summarised the proceedings from the RealAudio files of the deposition, which are stored on Dave VanHorn's web site.

The tone of the second deposition was much more hostile than the first. Some of the issues raised included Grady's possible involvement in a scandal at Apple where he worked in the early 1980's, his taunting of Helena Kobrin, and her attempt to rmgroup alt.religion.scientology.

The search for SCAMIZDAT

In his second deposition, Grady stated that while he did not have any copies of the SCAMIZDAT postings, he could find them all in an hour with a web search engine. Damon Chetson took up the challenge, and on July 2 reported the results on alt.religion.scientology. The next day Grady filed a declaration detailing how widespread the propagation of RTC ideas is on the internet.

Grady attends a settlement conference

On July 1 Grady attended a settlement conference in San Jose with Scientology attorneys and a member of the RTC board of directors, Mike Sutter. No agreement was reached and both sides left items "on the table." (Details of the meeting are confidential). The conference did confirm that Scientology is hemorrhaging a huge amount of money perpetuating these suits.

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for August 2. In preparation for this conference, both Scientology and Grady filed a proposed "joint case-management statement" with the court outlining each party's proposed schedule for the case. These two views differ sharply, and the judge may need to arbitrate.

Collateral harassment of other netizens

After Keith Henson wrote a letter to Judge Whyte about the Grady Ward case, then posted his letter to alt.religion.scientology, Scientology sued him as well. See The Church of Scientology vs. Keith Henson page for more information.

Helena Kobrin's actions against Grady Ward have led many other netizens to post their own requests for "NOTs packs" to alt.religion.scientology. Some of these netizens, including Deana Holmes, Jim Byrd, Dave Touretzky, and "Sister Clara", have now received their own threatening letters from Helena. In some cases, Helena has sent e-mail to their system administrators as well.

In the wake of Grady's claim at the second deposition that SCAMIZDAT was still freely available on the net, Helena Kobrin contacted Bruce Scott and Dick Cleek, threatening them with legal action if they did not remove copies of Scientology's "secret scriptures" from their web directories. In both cases the documents had been left there by accident, and had apparently been discovered by web indexing robots.

Shelley Thomson covers all the news

One of the best sources of information on this lawsuit is Shelley Thomson's e-zine **Biased Journalism**. Read the issues dated March 28, March 31, April 8, April 14, July 10, and July 23, 1996.

A time-line of relevant events and documents

Some earlier events involving Grady Ward

Other possibly relevant information

See also The Church of Scientology vs. Keith Henson.

Return to The Church of Scientology vs. the Net main page.

Ron Newman, <>