Judge Seeks More Briefing on Scientology Leader's Removal Motion

Plaintiffs In Civil Lawsuit Seek RICO Charges Against Church Of Scientology

Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images News / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge wants more briefing from attorneys in Leah Remini's civil suit against the Church of Scientology about whether he should remove himself from the case as requested by church leader David Miscavige.

The court papers brought by Miscavige's lawyers cite a section of the Code of Civil Procedure in which they claim Judge Randolph M. Hammock is prejudiced against their client, but does not require them to explain how.

The judge responded on Tuesday with a minute order issued by his clerk.

"This court's initial instinct is that Mr. Miscavige's peremptory challenge to this court has, in fact, been properly and timely filed and that it should be granted," the judge said.

However, Hammock is asking for briefing in multiple areas, including whether his recent mixed ruling on the church's anti-SLAPP motion precludes Miscavige from now asking for him to step down from the case. The judge also noted that the church has appealed his anti-SLAPP ruling, in which he allowed portions of Remini's case to proceed to trial, but eliminated enough other parts of it to prompt the issuance of a church statement proclaiming the ruling a "resounding victory" and stating that its lawyers will seek attorneys' fees.

Hammock said he also wants to know what impact the appeal may have on Miscavige's motion.

"In the meantime, this court will not issue any further rulings and/or orders in this case while this motion is pending, except as may be allowed under (a section of the Code of Civil Procedure)," the judge said.

The actress' original suit was brought Aug. 2 in Los Angeles Superior Court and included allegations of civil harassment, stalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Miscavige is also a defendant in both the first suit and an updated complaint brought Aug. 29.

After leaving the church in 2013, Remini became a high-profile critic. She published a memoir in 2015, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," and later hosted three seasons of the docuseries, "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath," on A&E.

An anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion is rooted in a law intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

The 53-year-old "The King of Queens" star's suit alleges that Scientologists "have undertaken a campaign to ruin and destroy the life and livelihood of Leah Remini, a former Scientologist of nearly 40 years, a two- time Emmy-award winning producer, actress and New York Times best-selling author, after she was deemed a suppressive person and declared fair game by Scientology in 2013, when she publicly departed Scientology."

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content