Menlo Park: Elder Tells All – 2

April 5th, 2012

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.]


Defense Deposition of Jason Cobb – Segment 1

[13 pages] Deposition of Jason Cobb commences at 10 AM on October 11, 2011. Atty. Smith and witness Cobb discuss personal information, rules and procedures, and Cobb’s involvement with other court cases. Cobb indicates that he has some health issues but agrees to go on. There is a dispute referred to the court clerk over the handling of certain evidence (bank records) and possible conflicts with a separate state court case filed by Cobb.

Defense Deposition of Jason Cobb – Segment 2

[13 pages] Smith questions Cobb about his receipt of a subpoena for certain Kingdom Hall corporation records. Cobb refuses to release certain documents that he claims are “privileged.” Smith requests copies of all documents sent by Cobb to police agencies, the IRS, the FBI, and the California State Attorney General. Smith calls court clerk to settle a dispute over Cobb’s claim to certain privileges. Smith questions Cobb about personal and family information. Questions about elder body, Menlo Park corporation documents, Regional Building Committee and the role of the Governing Body. Questions about the purpose of the federal lawsuit and other persons involved.

Defense Deposition of Jason Cobb – Segment 3

[10 pages] Smith asks about residence of John Steele and requests more documents to and from the IRS and FBI. Smith asks questions about Cobb’s visit to the U.S. Attorney and FBI officers. Cobb answers some questions about his conversation with the FBI and others about criminal schemes and investigations. Questions about Cobb’s contact with San Mateo District Attorney. Discussion of role of Regional Building Committees and their inspection of Kingdom Hall corporate documents. Cobb questioned about the maintenance, inspection, custody and control of Menlo Park Kingdom Hall corporation documents since 2005.

Defense Deposition of Jason Cobb – Segment 4

[16 pages] Cobb challenges Smith on certain issues that relate to both state and federal lawsuits. Discussion over the need or state requirements for corporate bylaws. History of discussions with secular and Watchtower legal attorneys about the use of bylaws. Watchtower’s assertion that Kingdom Halls “belong to Jehovah.” 2005 addition of bylaws making Watchtower Society beneficiary when Kingdom Halls are sold or transfered. Heated discussion about the federal judge’s standing order and another call to the court clerk. Cobb challenges Smith to ask questions relevant to the lawsuit such as RICO, embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud. Cobb challenges Smith: How can a corporation hold a meeting without viable authority? Cobb complains that he is not feeling well and needs to end the meeting. He states his opinion that Smith has spent the entire time trying to get more information about Cobb’s state case, ignoring relevant elements of the federal case. Smith threatens to object to the court and to have Jason Cobb and John Steele banned from the settlement conference. Deposition adjourned.

Categories: Watchtower Scandals

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