Thursday, June 30, 2005

Judge Rondolino denies motion to compel Semblers to be psychologically evaluated

This is a 6th Circuit ruling in PumpGate (ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler's strange case to reclaim his discarded penis pump.) Normally we report PumpGate rulings in our PumpGate blog or in our PumpGate web page, but this particular court ruling needs to be filed on our 6th Circuit blog.

In their Verified Complaint Melvin and Betty Sembler charge that Ray Bradbury's actions have caused them emotional distress. Specifically:

18. The Semblers have sustained and will continue to sustain emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of Bradbury's publication of personal objects and his continued rummaging through their garbage.

23. Bradbury has harassed Melvin and Betty Sembler by engaging in a course of conduct directed at the Semblers, which has caused them to sustain substantial emotional distress and which serves no legitimate purpose.

OK. The Semblers make a boilerplate claim of emotional distress; that's pretty typical in these types of suits. But how much emotional abuse (if any) have they sustained? That's pretty routine for a court to determine too. In Florida it is the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360. You need a baseline. What was the plaintiffs' mental states before the alleged harassment and what is it today? Will Ambassador Sembler be 25% impaired from performing his duties for the rest of his life? Will Betty Sembler have to be on medication for five years? How much will that medication cost? Will anyone have to be hospitalized? And so forth. To determine that one needs expert testimony from an examining mental health professional. Typically at trial the Sembler's medical expert would testify to the extent of emotional damages and Bradbury's attorney would give his expert opinion as to whether there is emotional damage, and, if so, the extent. Ultimately, it will be a jury that determines any award of emotional distress.

So Tom McGowan, Bradbury's attorney, filed a motion to compel Mel and Betty Sembler to undergo an independent psychological medical examine as required by Rule 1.360. McGowan defended his motion before Judge Rondolino on May 23. One month later on June 21 Judge Rondolino finally made his "yes/no" decision. Judge Rondolino agrees with Lenny Englander, the Semblers' attorney. For now there will be no compulsory psychological evaluation. We knew Bradbury's petition was in trouble when this simple motion went beyond one week for the judge's decision. But the judge had the difficult task of writing up his order to try to make sense to an appeals court--and to the press. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs' present reasoning that Mel and Betty are not suffering from any real medical psychological harm but only "garden variety" mental anguish that any jury person could understand for himself without having to hear from a medical expert!

So there you have it. In August it will be two years. Bradbury has been deposed once and is anxiously waiting for part 2 of his deposition. But the Semblers have yet to be deposed. Bradbury has been required to see Semblers' independent shrink even though he has not filed a charge of emotional distress, and the Semblers' are charging emotional distress but they don't have to see a shrink to quantify and to qualify their claim. It appears that the Semblers may have even perjured themselves by stating that they were not in town to handle court matters when actually they were in town. Englander and wife, Sembler's son and wife, Novack and wife and Judge Logan and wife are all out socializing together while Logan opens himself up to the appearance of rubber stamping gag orders for Lenny Englander. And now Judge Rondolino is making an exception to Rule 1.360. This is not good news for Ray Bradbury and his attorney.

Melvin and Betty Sembler have been protested in writing, on TV, at public places and at their residence for over 15 years for running a program that caused the intentional infliction of emotional abuse on thousands of Americans. They have been protested by scores of people including Ray Bradbury and now the Semblers want to tell a jury that Bradbury's antic "serves no legitimate purpose", that there is no rhyme or reason for "him" to protest the Semblers; that Mel Sembler is an honorable man who not only has sacrificed much of his important time to government service but that he and Betty have successfully saved 12,000 American kids from the horrors of addiction; that for the Semblers to see a psychologist is just further harassment; that Mel Sembler has a medical condition necessitating a penile pump. Mr. Bradbury, we recommended a change in venue from day one. We have cautiously eyed Judge Rondolino's every ruling and until now have been pleased with the fairness of his decisions. Mr. Bradbury, you have been fucked.

Law is like a chess game. Mr. Englander should have explained to his clients that they could sue Bradbury but that action itself would hurt some--probably a lot. Tom McGowan has being playing the game expertly in a pretty shoddy court system. Judge Rondolino's current ruling is a major setback for Bradbury. How can Tom McGowan hope to win, no matter how well he plays, if the court cheats. The only positive comment we can make about Judge Rondolino's unfair ruling to accomodate the rich and famous is that he denied Bradbury's motion "at present" based on the exisitng situation. Was his ruling with or without prejudice?

Next step for the Semblers is to get the judge to deny Bradbury the right to depose his accusers on the grounds that that will be further harassment and stalking by Bradbury. Mr. Sembler, how you going to get the judge to let you escape being deposed? I guess you'll just tell your attorney to tell the judge you have chosen not to be deposed. In the end Bradbury will probably be prohibited from attending his own trial, should the Semblers decide to go, because they will claim he is stalking them!

If you want to be Mel Sembler's friend sooner or later it's going to hurt. Now it's Judge Rondolino's turn to hurt and we know he curses the day he was ever selected to preside over PumpGate.