Menlo Park Kingdom Hall: The State Lawsuit

The Menlo Park Kingdom Hall takeover scandal is like a movie monster that just won’t die.

Three former elders have filed Court cases in San Francisco Federal Court (dismissed), San Mateo Superior Court in Redwood City (dismissed), and earlier this year another case that is progressing in San Jose Federal Court. There was another filing in federal court on April, 2012 [Cobb & Cobb Sr. v. Chase Bank] that is still developing.

These court cases all center around four Menlo Park elders that the Watchtower Society removed and replaced in the summer of 2010. Three of the elders decided to challenge their replacement as officers of the non-profit corporation that owned and managed the land, building, and financial assets connected to the Menlo Park Kingdom Hall.

Over the past two years, Ex-JW.com has provided our readers with ongoing articles and PDF copies of most relevant court documents. This post presents the transcript of the state case heard in the Superior Court of San Mateo County, California on February 22, 2012. The original transcript is quite lengthy, so it’s been broken into seven parts for ease of reading and downloading. Below the link to each section there is an abbreviated synopsis for quick reference.

Those close to the case suggest that our readers give special attention to section 6 below. Defendant Ernest Brede, the current COBOE at Menlo Park, describes events during and after the takeover, and testifies under oath that the existing board of directors was never officially voted out of office. Instead, as directed by a Watchtower Society attorney, a new corporation was simply formed to replace the existing corporation. That is a clear violation of California corporation law.

As you read the full transcript of this case, you may notice that while the court gave the appearance of being fair, the judge sustained practically every objection made by the Watchtower’s attorneys – even to the point of designating printed and signed letters and publications issued by the Watchtower as being “hearsay.” While it often seems that the judge would give Jason Cobb a little slack (he was appearing “pro per” and had not been given time to fully prepare for that day’s trial), he tended to rule for the defense on most critical issues as they came up.

It’s interesting to note that the Watchtower seems to have changed its official position about what kind of religion it really is. For decades the Society has criticized the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and most mainstream Protestant denominations, for being “hierarchies.” Instead of being ruled from the top down by a pope or archbishop, Jehovah’s Witnesses have traditionally presented themselves as groups of Bible students meeting together in small groups, directed in an ecclesiastical “theocratic arrangement.” Watchtower publications still promote the idea that appointments of local elders and special pioneers are directed by holy spirit, not from direct orders by branch office managers.

Watchtower attorney Calvin Rouse destroys that claim forever as officially recorded on pages 4 and 5 (segment 1). Rouse states emphatically, “We are a hierarchical religion just like the Catholic Church.” What follows is even more enlightening.

Read More