Scientologists accept Clearwater trial

Palm Beach Post/June 11, 2003
By Susan Spencer-Wendel

Attorneys for the Church of Scientology in Clearwater withdrew their request Tuesday to transfer a civil case to Palm Beach or Broward county.

In a letter to the judge on the breach-of-contract case, an attorney for the church wrote that since the court date was only four weeks away, the church would try for a fair jury panel there.

The Scientologists previously argued that they could not continue in the Clearwater area because a survey conducted by the church had shown a bias in the area.

The survey, which took place this spring, showed an overriding prejudice against the church, including some people who labeled it a mind-control cult.

The church lawyers asked that the case be moved to Palm Beach or Broward county because the counties have demographics similar to Pinellas County.

The church is involved in expansive litigation after a church member died while under psychiatric care at a church facility.

The church member, Lisa McPherson, 36, a devout Scientologist from Clearwater, had a mental breakdown in 1995 and was taken to a church retreat facility, where she died 17 days later.

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