Lawyer in Scientology case is stuck between state and federal judges

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One of the Scientology cult’s most vocal critics, Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, is in a pickle.

Six years ago, he settled a wrongful death case against the church on behalf of the family of Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 after 17 days in the care of cult members in Clearwater.

Part of the settlement agreement, approved by a judge in state court, required Dandar to never again represent anyone suing the Scientology cult.

But last year, Dandar took on another wrongful death case against the church’s Flag Service Organization — in federal court.

Subsequently Senior Circuit Judge Robert Beach in June 2009 ordered Dandar to withdraw from the new case.

But on April 12, U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday told him he cannot get out of it. The reason: No other attorney wants to take on Scientology. It is, after all, a cult known for its hate- and harassment campaigns against critics.


So Dandar is stuck between a state judge telling him to leave Scientology alone and a federal judge telling him he can’t.


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This post was last updated: Sep. 1, 2010