Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NY Court Documents

Recently, Mathew Sullivan of Suspended Animation, in Boynton Beach, Florida, and the anonymous "FD," who frequently participates on the "Cold Filter" cryonics forum, criticized me for not posting recent information regarding the Alcor vs. Johnson/Baldyga/Vanguard Press lawsuits. The truth is, I had not even read the documents, since they had yet to be posted on the Internet court site I monitor. During the course of three days, (February 2-4), four documents containing a total of 103 pages were posted. On February 6, before I was even aware of the documents, FD and Mathew took to pretending I was not commenting on them, because I didn't like the contents. People in cryonics are good at pretending.

One of the documents they are gloating over contains the testimony of Brian Wowk, which is incomplete, in that Johnson's attorneys have yet to cross-examine him. It appears they did not cross-examine him, because they were unaware he was going to testify that day, and they didn't even have an opportunity to depose him, beforehand. If they do get around to cross-examining him, in the future, as the judge suggested, there are many statements they should pay attention to. I find the documents, (like many legal documents), to be ridiculously long and boring, so I am not going to spend all day pouring over them, but there were a couple of things that caught my eye, as I was scrolling through them. Here is just one example:

Alcor's attorney: "Is it a true statement that Ted Williams' head was used for batting practice at the Alcor facility?

Dr. Wulk (sic): "No, that's absolutely false. I personally know the individual who was alleged to have done that, Hugh Hixson (sic). He's a scientist like myself who takes the field of cryonics very seriously. He is incapable of such an act, as am I."

Now, we all know the "batting practice" remark was a sensationalistic metaphor used to describe Hixon attempting to dislodge a tuna can that had been frozen to Mr. Williams' head. We all know Johnson's claim is that Hixon was attempting to dislodge the tuna can with a wrench, and accidentally struck Mr. Williams' head. We all know Johnson didn't really mean to give anyone the impression that the Alcor personnel was having a real "batting practice" with Mr. Williams' head. In fact, I believe it was the media, not Larry Johnson, who came up with the "batting practice" remark. I know it, and I can't help but believe Alcor and Dr. Wowk know it, since anyone of reasonable intelligence who has read the book and seen the interviews could figure it out. To make his testimony even more laughable, Dr. Wowk complained about Johnson presenting things "out of context," in a magazine article. Isn't that exactly what Alcor's attorneys and Dr. Wowk were doing, in a court of law, when they discussed the media's "batting practice" comments?

Dr. Wowk put forth that Johnson's book is "...400 pages of privacy violation, disparagement and defamation that presents false and misleading information in a manner constructed to be as harmful to Alcor as possible."

I'll have to disagree with that. A lot of those 400 pages contain the transcripts of tapes of Alcor's own staff members, (including the COO, the vice president, and an Alcor senior board member), describing Alcor allegedly engaging in unethical and illegal activities. Was that information false? I doubt it, but if it is, Dr. Wowk should take it up with his esteemed colleagues, such as Hixon, Platt and Hovey.

Are the case notes of the cryopreservation of Ted Williams a "privacy violation"? Probably, but let's put that in context. One of Alcor's own personnel, at the time, complained about many people, who had no reason for even being there, milling about, snapping their photos with Mr. Williams' body, (or maybe just the head). Maybe Dr. Wowk could ask former Alcor COO, Charles Platt, about his email to Larry Johnson, in which he (Platt) claims to have photos of the Ted Williams case stored in a safe deposit box.

If I were Johnson's attorney, I would definitely cross-examine Wowk. I would read the excerpt of the book, in which Johnson clearly indicates Hixon was attempting to dislodge the tuna can, and then I would ask Dr. Wowk if it was Mr. Johnson, or the media, who used the term "batting practice." I would also ask Dr. Wowk why his fellow scientist, Hugh Hixon, would make a statement that a drug was used "To kill (Alcor patients)," or make jokes about one of his co-workers expediting the death of a patient, so the Alcor team could "beat the traffic." Then I would play every tape Johnson has of Hixon, and ask Dr. Wowk if he could possibly explain why his upstanding colleague would make such remarks. I mean, if Hixon takes the "field of cryonics (so) very seriously," as Dr. Wowk claims, then the court should probably assume the statements he made about drugs being used to kill people during cryonics cases should be taken very seriously, should it not? I would make it clear, to the judge, that I thought Alcor's attorneys and witnesses were misrepresenting some of the contents of Johnson's book.

If I were to read the entire document, I could probably go on, all day, about how I think Alcor is being deceptive, (because that IS what I think). And, if I had a stake in Johnson's case, (as Mathew and FD seem to think I do), I would rush to my computer each morning to tear apart those documents line-by-line, and post them on my blog, knowing at least one of Johnson's attorneys reads my posts. Johnson's NY attorneys seem really sharp, but I'm not so sure about his Arizona attorneys, and it seems the NY judge may rule, based on what the Arizona courts rule. Regardless, that's Johnson's problem, not mine. TWrelated is right, not enough people really care about the outcome of the Johnson case, including me, since I expect a decision, in either direction, will be rather anti-climactic. While Johnson's sensationalistic book got the world's attention, for 15 minutes, I believe it was only a catalyst for a few other reactions that will forever change the face of cryonics, (hopefully, in a positive way).

Now, would FD and Mathew really like for me to keep reviewing the blasted legal documents, or would they be okay with them if I went back to ignoring most of them, as I have been doing, for many weeks, now? I really have better things to do.

No comments: