Menlo Park: Elder Tells All – 2
Jason Cobb was one of the four elders serving in the Menlo Park (California) Kingdom Hall dismissed from their “theocratic assignments” effective July 1, 2010. For reasons of his own, Jason chose not to take part as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed the following August by his father, Jonathan Cobb Sr., and fellow elder Walter Arlen St. Clair. (See San Francisco Federal District Court, case 3:10-cv-03907-MEJ).
Wanting to stay an active Jehovah’s Witness in good standing, Jason tried to keep a low profile as he continued to attend meetings and field service. But he also worked on the sidelines in support of his father and Arlen St. Clair as they fought to restore their reputations within the congregation.
In spite of his efforts, he soon found himself drawn into the battle. It was obvious that there was far more going on behind the scenes during the takeover of his Kingdom Hall. This was turning out to be more complicated than just a simple merger with the Redwood City congregation. Even though he was still confused about the real reasons for his dismissal as Coordinator of the Board of Elders (CoBOE), he knew that something was just not right about how the takeover was being handled.
As an elder, he’d served the congregation as an officer of the non-profit corporation holding the title to Kingdom Hall and the land it sat on. As a corporate officer, he and other elders were responsible for the maintenance of the building and protecting the monetary assets of the congregation. At regular intervals, he and the other officers would report to the members of the congregation on the status of bank accounts, the overall condition of the Kingdom Hall, and other corporate business.
Within weeks after his father and St. Clair filed the federal lawsuit, Jason Cobb had to begin a fight to save his own reputation. This forced him to file police reports and a parallel lawsuit in the California state courts.
That’s a little background to get you started. But I’m going to let Jason Cobb tell his side of the story in his own way. You get to read the transcripts of both of his depositions as a witness in the federal court case. I urge you to get comfortable, enlarge the documents on your computer screen (for most web browsers use “Ctrl +”), and settle in for a fascinating read. I’ll try to make it easier for you by putting the documents and exhibits in sequence when possible as the story progresses.
Please note: For this article I am using the official transcripts exactly as they were filed in federal court. The attorney for the defendants, Anthony V. Smith, Esq. (also a Jehovah’s Witness elder and representing the Watchtower Society’s interests) ordered these transcripts to be recorded and prepared by a licensed court stenographer.
Please note the following two items: Each document page is made up of four pages of the official transcript, making the text smaller than usual and maybe a bit difficult to read and follow.
Read the pages starting at the left top – then left bottom, right top, right bottom. On the first page (right top) you’ll see an index to external documents and exhibits along with the pages where they are “marked,” but they don’t actually appear as part of the transcript. Exhibits were not included as part of this deposition filing. When available, I will try to include the equivalent documents from other official court sources as they appear in the story. Many documents mentioned in this deposition will also be included in the next article in this series, “Menlo Park: Elder Tells All -3.”
I strongly urge you to read this slowly and in segments. It’s long and exhausting as most significant and memorable court cases often are. (Do you still remember the O. J. Simpson trial? If so, why?)
I hope you’ll find the record of this battle of wits between Jason Cobb and the defense attorney, Anthony V. Smith engaging, enraging, and enlightening. Please feel free to share your comments about this amazing story with our readers.
[All segments are PDFs. Click on segment title to read or download.]