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Activist Judge Tosses First Amendment

Constitution First Amendment Freedom of Religion

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#1 waterpanther

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 02:18 PM

A Republican activist judge has tossed the First Amendment's guarantees of religious freedom out the window, decreeing that parents cannot teach their child the family's religion.  Where, oh, where, are Bugman and Cat Killer on this one?  Where's the outrage?  Where's the deeeeeep concern for the Constitution as our Founding Fathers intended it?


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Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs
Father appeals order in divorce decree that prevents couple from exposing son to Wicca.


What is Wicca?

Wicca is not a centralized religion but a belief system observed by 50,000 Americans that is recognized by reference texts such as the U.S. Army Chaplain's Handbook.

Wicca is related to European tribal nature worship. Wiccans regard living things as sacred and often show a concern for the environment.

They do not worship Satan, but some cast "spells." Some worship in the nude as a sign of attunement with nature.

The core value of Wicca states, "As it harm none, do what you will."

-- Star report




By Kevin Corcoran
kevin.corcoran@indystar.com


An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.

Through a court spokeswoman, Bradford said Wednesday he could not discuss the pending legal dispute.

The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school.

"There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report.

But Jones, 37, Indianapolis, disputes the bureau's findings, saying he attended Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis as a non-Christian.

Jones has brought the case before the Indiana Court of Appeals, with help from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. They filed their request for the appeals court to strike the one-paragraph clause in January.

"This was done without either of us requesting it and at the judge's whim," said Jones, who has organized Pagan Pride Day events in Indianapolis. "It is upsetting to our son that he cannot celebrate holidays with us, including Yule, which is winter solstice, and Ostara, which is the spring equinox."

The ICLU and Jones assert the judge's order tramples on the parents' constitutional right to expose their son to a religion of their choice. Both say the court failed to explain how exposing the boy to Wicca's beliefs and practices would harm him.

Bristol is not involved in the appeal and could not be reached for comment. She and Jones have joint custody, and the boy lives with the father on the Northside.

Jones and the ICLU also argue the order is so vague that it could lead to Jones being found in contempt and losing custody of his son.

"When they read the order to me, I said, 'You've got to be kidding,' " said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. "Didn't the judge get the memo that it's not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?"

Some people have preconceived notions about Wicca, which has some rituals involving nudity but mostly would be inoffensive to children, said Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"Wiccans use the language of witchcraft, but it has a different meaning to them," Goff said. "Their practices tend to be rather pacifistic. They tend to revolve around the old pagan holidays. There's not really a church of Wicca. Practices vary from region to region."

Even the U.S. military accommodates Wiccans and educates chaplains about their beliefs, said Lawrence W. Snyder, an associate professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University.

"The federal government has given Wiccans protection under the First Amendment," Snyder said. "Unless this judge has some very specific information about activities involving the child that are harmful, the law is not on his side."

At times, divorcing parents might battle in the courts over the religion of their children. But Kenneth J. Falk, the ICLU's legal director, said he knows of no such order issued before by an Indiana court. He said his research also did not turn up such a case nationally.

"Religion comes up most frequently when there are disputes between the parents. There are lots of cases where a mom and dad are of different faiths, and they're having a tug of war over the kids," Falk said. "This is different: Their dispute is with the judge. When the government is attempting to tell people they're not allowed to engage in non-mainstream activities, that raises concerns."

Indiana law generally allows parents who are awarded physical custody of children to determine their religious training; courts step in only when the children's physical or emotional health would be endangered.

Getting the judge's religious restriction lifted should be a slam-dunk, said David Orentlicher, an Indiana University law professor and Democratic state representative from Indianapolis.

"That's blatantly unconstitutional," Orentlicher said. "Obviously, the judge can order them not to expose the child to drugs or other inappropriate conduct, but it sounds like this order was confusing or could be misconstrued."

The couple married in February 1995, and their divorce was final in February 2004.

As Wiccans, the boy's parents believe in nature-based deities and engage in worship rituals that include guided meditation that Jones says improved his son's concentration. Wicca "is an understanding that we're all connected, and respecting that," said Jones, who is a computer Web designer.

Jones said he does not consider himself a witch or practice anything resembling witchcraft.

During the divorce, he told a court official that Wiccans are not devil worshippers. And he said he does not practice a form of Wicca that involves nudity.

"I celebrate life as a duality. There's a male and female force to everything," Jones said. "I feel the Earth is a living creature. I don't believe in Satan or any creature of infinite evil."

Judge decrees parents can't teach son their religion
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#2 WildChildCait

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 02:28 PM

WTF?!?!?!?"

you know, supporting a democracy means sometimes accepting something you don't like

and who's to say my religion is any worse than yours?

and who does this jubdge think he is intruding on this fathers home life?!?!?

REmind me not to visit this police/facist state formerly known as a democracy

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#3 offworlder

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 03:06 PM

why on earth did they get their divorce there instead of Reno, or even St Thomas? how do they figure wicca is viewed or thought of in Indiana? I'm not talking for this one moment of justice, but of common sense!
;)
second- the divorce is done now, the judge is out of it now, the custody is not being contested so there's no caseworker monitoring... so just teach him what you want. But tell him don't go spouting it to all his friends, and that's the hard part: you don't want it around his school or the neighborhood but kid's like to talk their interests and how do you muzzle him? so then community and such might start up a hue and cry -

third- the judge doing it: because he can- they can appeal if they don't agree with the judgement; AND if they feel he's acted wrongly, outside his bounds or against the justice rules, they can get a reputable attorney who's been a judge, and those ex-judge attorneys in their nice partnerships now know everyone and are influential and can get info and favors and everything, then take it to the bar (no not where you get Heineken but the one that controls lawyers and judges): get him censured so he can't rule like that anymore or he's disbarred.

so beyond that it's a (or practically) moot point - teach him your wicca, keep it on the downlow, and go on about your merry way

When judges reach inside the home, other than protecting abused or neglected family, they must just be pushed back or avoided. Too bad that confidential family eval report even had that info in the first place.
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#4 Balderdash

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 03:24 PM

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Waterpanther: A Republican activist judge has tossed the First Amendment's guarantees of religious freedom out the window, decreeing that parents cannot teach their child the family's religion. Where, oh, where, are Bugman and Cat Killer on this one? Where's the outrage? Where's the deeeeeep concern for the Constitution as our Founding Fathers intended it?

Bugman and Cat Killer can't  jump to the rescue on this one because the religion in question isn't the "right" religion so it's probably ok with them that this activist judge set those kookie Wiccans straight.

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#5 HubcapDave

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 05:57 PM

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A Republican activist judge has tossed the First Amendment's guarantees of religious freedom out the window, decreeing that parents cannot teach their child the family's religion. Where, oh, where, are Bugman and Cat Killer on this one? Where's the outrage? Where's the deeeeeep concern for the Constitution as our Founding Fathers intended it?

You know panther, it's super-snarky crap like this that make it hard for me to take you seriously as a debator.

First of all, how do you know this guy's a Republican? I did a quick search on this guy's name on Google and I can't seem to find any indication of his political affiliation.

Second of all, if you read the article, you'll see that it's most certainly going to be shot down on appeal. Between that and the fact that the story just came out yesterday, there really doesn't seem the need to satisfy the fallacy you suggest that they must cry "foul" loudly at the top of their lungs any time such a thing comes up. Considering the story shows up in only a couple of Indiana-based newspapers, I'll bet you good money that "Bugman" and "Cat Killer" haven't even heard of the story!

All that being said, I agree that this was a bone-headed move on the judge's part, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that this judge is in the habit of making stupid rulings and he may have just had a bad day on this one. I'm more inclined to believe that that is the case than the nefarious dealings of a civil liberties stomping Republican activist judge you imply.

But then, you wouldn't be able express your outrage and sport some stupid nickanmes you made up for Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, and where would be the fun in that for you?

:sarcasm:

#6 Spectacles

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 07:02 PM

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HubcapDave: First of all, how do you know this guy's a Republican? I did a quick search on this guy's name on Google and I can't seem to find any indication of his political affiliation.


http://www.indygop.com/officials.htm

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All that being said, I agree that this was a bone-headed move on the judge's part, but there doesn't seem to be any indication that this judge is in the habit of making stupid rulings and he may have just had a bad day on this one. I'm more inclined to believe that that is the case than the nefarious dealings of a civil liberties stomping Republican activist judge you imply.

I understand your resentment of the name-calling, Dave. All that attaching silly names and negative soundbites to public figures does is create a neener-neener atmosphere for debate--kinda like "John Kerry's House of Waffles." ;)

I don't know if Waterpanther knew this guy was indeed a Republican or if she just deduced it from the information:

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a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

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"There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report.

Since it's the Democrats who are generally assumed to be moral relativists who are open to all sorts of divergent "lifestyles" while Republicans have tended to promote "traditional family values" and argue strenuously that this is a "Christian" nation, I confess that I, too, assumed the judge was a Republican. Turns out he is. But you're right--before I clicked on the link above, I couldn't say for sure. (Though I'd-a bet good money. ;))

For a long time in public debate, the term "judicial activist" has been reserved for liberal judges who reach beyond the bounds of law to impose their ideology. I think the point here is that conservatives can be "judicial activists" too. (See Priscilla Owen.)

If people are outraged at judicial activism on principle, they ought to express outrage at this judge's decision--as you did.
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#7 waterpanther

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 07:09 PM

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You know panther, it's super-snarky crap like this that make it hard for me to take you seriously as a debator.

You know, hubcab, I seem to remember your making that observation before.  Do you remember my answer?  Frankly, my dear, I still don't give a damn.

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First of all, how do you know this guy's a Republican? I did a quick search on this guy's name on Google and I can't seem to find any indication of his political affiliation.

Well, his general Roy-Moore-ish behavior was a pretty good, clue, but the fact is that I know he's a Republican because the Indianapolis Bar Association says so.

This guy's a Republican

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Second of all, if you read the article, you'll see that it's most certainly going to be shot down on appeal

Of course it's going to be shot down on appeal.  It's a blatant violation of the parents' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.  How does that excuse the Judge for making such a blatantly bigotted ruling in the first place, or putting the family through the necessity of litigation?

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Between that and the fact that the story just came out yesterday, there really doesn't seem the need to satisfy the fallacy you suggest that they must cry "foul" loudly at the top of their lungs any time such a thing comes up.

This sentence is so garbled I have no idea what you mean.

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Considering the story shows up in only a couple of Indiana-based newspapers,

UPI has picked it up.

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But then, you wouldn't be able express your outrage and sport some stupid nickanmes you made up for Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, and where would be the fun in that for you?

Sorry, can't claim the credit.  Tom DeLay has been called "Bugman" in Texas for years, and Frist's nickname has been around since he published his autobiography.
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#8 HubcapDave

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 08:35 PM

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Well, his general Roy-Moore-ish behavior was a pretty good, clue, but the fact is that I know he's a Republican because the Indianapolis Bar Association says so.

This guy's a Republican

The link sends me to a page with media clippings on it. I didn't see anyhting about him being a Republican.

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Of course it's going to be shot down on appeal. It's a blatant violation of the parents' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. How does that excuse the Judge for making such a blatantly bigotted ruling in the first place, or putting the family through the necessity of litigation?

I didn't say it excused it. Your contention is that this guy is an "activist judge" who runs roughshod on people's civil liberties, thus allowing you play your part of moral indignity with the supposed hypocrisy of DeLay and Frist for not immediately desrying it. What I contend based on what I've read is that this judge made an error and that said error is not indicative of his behavior on the bench, but rather the exception.

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QUOTE
Between that and the fact that the story just came out yesterday, there really doesn't seem the need to satisfy the fallacy you suggest that they must cry "foul" loudly at the top of their lungs any time such a thing comes up.


This sentence is so garbled I have no idea what you mean.

Allow me to break it down so you can understand:

Your post suggests that you think DeLay and Frist must speak out whenever a judge acts in an "activist manner" and are basically calling them hypocrites for not doing so.

I call this a fallacy for many reasons. First of all because this story (even if it WAS picked up by UPI, the google news section only showed the local press stories) is so new and so small that they have likely not even heard of it yet. Matter of fact, you had no clue whatsoever whether they have or not when you wrote this, and you still don't!

Secondly, because I would think that these guys are just a little bit more to do than to run out and comment on every little story that comes down the wire.

#9 waterpanther

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 09:00 PM

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The link sends me to a page with media clippings on it. I didn't see anyhting about him being a Republican.

Hmm.  Sorry about that.  It's in at least one of those clips, but I have no idea from the list which one it is; I gather they all have the same addy. Specs' link, however, will take you dicrectly to a corroborating site;  googling "Cale J. Bradford,Marion County,Republican" will give you several.

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What I contend based on what I've read is that this judge made an error

Which he could have corrected at several points in the process.  Sorry, but a bad hair day is no excuse for this kind of bigotry.

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said error is not indicative of his behavior on the bench, but rather the exception.

Link?

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Secondly, because I would think that these guys are just a little bit more to do than to run out and comment on every little story that comes down the wire.

Ah yes.  They have news conferences to call about their interference in families' medical decisions.  Midnight laws to pass.  Ethics investigations and evolutionists to denounce. Bribes to count.  Shoes to buy (elevator shoes, in Bugman's case.  He's a small man in every sense of the word.  :p )
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#10 Hibblette

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 09:24 PM

The point is that this child is not in danger.  This child was born to these parents who believe like they do and therefore it is really just a natural assumption that the child will be exposed to this.

Next they'll be taking children away because some of us are practicing Democrats.
:p :hehe:

There's also the fact that this has been a waste of tax dollars. :wideeyed:
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#11 Cheile

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Posted 28 May 2005 - 09:32 PM

this judge should be debarred.......he has no idea what he's doing and no right to tell the parents what religion to teach him.  this is not the Soviet Union.

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#12 Ogami

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 02:21 AM

Bitter spouses will use anything in a divorce.

The article was not what was presented to the judge, what was presented to the judge was whatever Wiccan "rituals" could be described in the most offensive manner possible.

That's divorce, and this article is meaningless compared to what was actually raised and presented to the judge as "unfitness for parenting" evidence.

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#13 eloisel

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 03:42 AM

According to the article, both parents are Wiccans and there is no custody dispute between them.  The Wiccan issue came from the Domestic Relations Bureau which had concerns over the child attending a Catholic School and his exposure to his parents, practicing Wiccans.  The Judge's order is to keep both parents from involving their child in their belief system.  It appears that both parents could lose custody to the state if they violate the Judge's order.  Both parents are outraged by the order.  No doubt the order will be struck on appeal as it is a violation of these people's constitutional rights.  

Where did you find what was presented to the judge about Wicca?  Or about the "unfitness for parenting"?

#14 Bad Wolf

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 05:31 AM

HubcapDave, on May 28 2005, 03:57 PM, said:

First of all, how do you know this guy's a Republican? I did a quick search on this guy's name on Google and I can't seem to find any indication of his political affiliation.



You don't seriously believe he's NOT Republican, right?  And although wp's tone might leave something to be desired, the sentiment is correct imo.  Where is all the "outrage" against "activist" judges that many conservatives both in the government (and here) express when the issue is one like, say, the Establishment clause?
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#15 Spectacles

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 05:32 AM

OK, let's say Frist and DeLay just haven't heard about this yet. But even if/when they do, does anyone honestly think they'll be assailing this "activist judge" from the Congress? Can you imagine how horrified their constituents would be if Frist and DeLay stood up for the constitutional rights of Wiccans?  :eek4:
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#16 waterpanther

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 08:59 AM

Bitter right wing radicals will use anything to make a "point."   :lol:

You just might want to read the article before commenting, Ogami.

Edited by waterpanther, 29 May 2005 - 09:03 AM.

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#17 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 10:14 AM

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Some posters in this thread are starting to get a little too personal in their comments about other posters.  Iíd like to take this time to remind everyone to stay on the topic and to stay away from attacking other posters.  That type of behavior violates the guidelines and it will not be tolerated.  Everyone should get off the topic of attacking or commenting on your fellow posters and back to the topic of the thread.  
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#18 Anastashia

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 10:18 AM

The parents obviously see enough compatability between what's taught at the Catholic school and their beliefs to be sending the boy there. Maybe they are doing so to teach the kid about diversity and tolerance. How is that a threat to him? Where do these bureaucrats and the judge come off?

Huh?!
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#19 tvbuff

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 11:38 AM

I am not a Wiccan, I am a Christian who leans heavily toward conversion to Catholicism.  But I find this ruling deplorable and disgusting.  Religious freedom means just that.  Freedom for everyone to practice their belief system unless it is harming someone (such as folks who might want to say their religion demands human sacrifices).

I don't practice Santeria either but will defend the rights of those who believe in this faith to do so, as in many from the Carribbean and Cuba who have immigrated to the United States.

Our Constitution is being eroded more and more with each passing day.  I fear what this nation will become if this continues much longer.

:angry:

#20 Ogami

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Posted 29 May 2005 - 01:11 PM

Eloisel asked:

Where did you find what was presented to the judge about Wicca? Or about the "unfitness for parenting"?

Read the Thread title. The issue is not an "Activist judge", but what the judge was shown to result in this ruling. That's what I'd like to know, just the facts of what actually happened in the case.

-Ogami



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