Scientology Lawyer Jailed for His Jousts With Judge

Times Staff Writer

A lawyer for the Church of Scientology was jailed for several hours late Monday after he verbally sparred with Los Angeles’ chief U.S. district judge, whom church officials have accused of taking away church-related cases from other judges in order to cover up alleged government misconduct.

Attorney Donald C. Randolph was taken into custody by federal marshals after he was found in contempt by Judge Manuel Real for repeatedly raising arguments that Real had rejected and said he no longer wanted to hear.

“Get on to something else!” Real shouted at Randolph as the Los Angeles lawyer repeatedly raised an argument over why federal prosecutors would represent former church member Laurel Sullivan in a lawsuit brought against her by the Church of Scientology.

“In Section 4.3 . . ., " Randolph began.


“Mr. Randolph, I told you to get on to something else!” Real interjected.

Appeals Court Intervenes

When Randolph persisted, Real leaned back in his chair and told the lawyer: “You’re spending the night in (U.S. Marshal’s) lock-up.”

However, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals several hours later granted a petition by church attorneys for Randolph’s release.


After being freed at 8 p.m., Randolph, 41, met with Scientology supporters, who vowed to keep a nightlong vigil at the courthouse.

“They (the three-judge panel) did what was necessary to get me out of custody so I wouldn’t have to spend the night in jail,” Randolph said. “Now they will review the merits of the case and decide whether I acted improperly or properly. I am confident they will conclude that I was entirely proper in my arguments to the court.”

Randolph said he would be back in Real’s courtroom this morning, “as soon as I find my belt and tie,” which had been taken from him by marshals.

Earlier in the day, 300 Church of Scientology members and supporters demonstrated outside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Some carried placards that read, “Real is Unreal.” The demonstrators also packed Real’s courtroom. And when Randolph was ordered jailed, many began singing “We Shall Overcome.”


Real and Randolph had argued loudly in the morning session. As Randolph continually raised a point that Real rejected, the judge finally stalked off the bench, telling the attorney, “Don’t be ludicrous.”

Church officials have accused Real, denounced by some critics as a judicial tyrant who is quick to shout at attorneys who offend him, of “case shopping"--allegedly steering church-related cases to his courtroom to cover government misconduct.

Involved in 2 Cases

Randolph was in the midst of presenting the church’s arguments in two cases, one involving Sullivan, when he was ordered into custody.


The church claimed that its civil rights were violated because Sullivan allegedly passed confidential church information to federal authorities investigating Scientology.

In the other matter, Scientology has sued Boston attorney Michael Flynn for allegedly conspiring to bring “blatantly false and bizarre allegations” against the church. Flynn, who earlier this year filed a malicious-prosecution lawsuit against the church, has represented several clients in cases against Scientology.