Church of Scientology V. Gerald Armstrong - Ruling


Church of Scientology of California v. Gerald Armstrong, 232 Cal. App. 3d 1060; 283 Cal. Rptr. 917 (Ct. App. 1991)s:Church of Scientology v. Armstrong

Background: The COS filed an appeal seeking to overturn prior orders (1) dismissing its claims against Armstrong and (2) ordering that the court records in previous litigation be unsealed. (Armstrong, 232 Cal. App. 3d at 1063-66; 283 Cal. Rptr. at 918-20)


  1. The court of appeals upheld the trial court decision dismissing the COS's claims against Armstrong. Although not previously discussed under California law, the court of appeals agreed with the trial court that Armstrong's fears for his life, safety, and the life and safety of his wife presented a self-defense justification to the COS claims of invasion of privacy and conversion. (Armstrong, 232 Cal. App. 3d at 1071-73; 283 Cal. Rptr. at 923-25).
  2. The court of appeals reversed a lower court order unsealing the records from the original Armstrong proceeding. The court held that the original record was sealed with the consent of both parties, and, with retirement of the original judge, no subsequent judge had the authority to vacate or modify the order sealing the records. (Armstrong, 232 Cal. App. 3d at 1068-70; 283 Cal. Rptr. at 921-22).
  3. However, the court refused to seal the appellate record, holding that it was not bound by the original order sealing the lower court record and that no showing had been made sufficient to justify sealing the record of the appeal itself. (Armstrong, 232 Cal. App. 3d at 1070-71; 283 Cal. Rptr. at 923-24).

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