Ford Greene : biography
Aylsworth Crawford Greene III (born December 21, 1952) is an American attorney from San Anselmo, California, noted for having successfully conducted litigation against Scientology and alleged cults. Greene is a twice-elected current San Anselmo town councilman. On December 14, 2010, he was voted unanimously by the council to the position of mayor and served in that capacity until rotating out of the position in December 2011.
- , Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1989
Free speech activism
From 2003 to 2005, Greene was involved in a controversy about a changeable 'Freedom' sign with political messages on the side of his San Anselmo law office, facing eastbound traffic on busy Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Greene was vehement regarding his opposition to the policies of President George W. Bush, one example being Greene's recommendation for his readers to "defy evil Bushism".
After San Anselmo police removed his sign in 2003, Greene sued the city. After a new sign ordinance was passed limiting the size of signs to , Greene put up 16 small signs together to form a large one. A court declined to stop this, deciding that the town could only limit the size, not the number of signs. Greene settled the dispute in October 2005 by agreeing to use only half the space for messages, and was reimbursed by the town for nearly a thousand dollars in expenses.
"This settlement is my Christmas gift to the town of San Anselmo," Greene was quoted as saying after the settlement. "I'm happy to disprove the adage you can't fight City Hall, but it sure helps to be an attorney. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens lack such advantage upon which town authorities seem to count in the way they respond to – and often ignore – citizens' concerns and complaints."
Litigating against Scientology
Greene has represented a number of clients against Scientology. In Wollersheim v. Church of Scientology of California, he was part of a team that represented former Scientologist Lawrence A. Wollersheim and successfully sued for emotional distress. Wollersheim had been a member of the Church of Scientology for over a decade, leaving in 1979, and sued the church the following year. The court case was heard in 1986. Wollersheim had been a supervisor in Scientology's elite SeaOrg group, and his duties included recruiting celebrities to Scientology. The case resulted in a $2.5 million judgment that grew into an $8.7 million payout due to accumulated interest after over 20 years of litigation. In New York City's Village Voice newspaper in June 2008, Greene commented: "If it had been shown in court that the 350 organizations of the church of Scientology were all controlled by [Scientology leader] David Miscavige, it doesn’t look like a legitimate religion but the authoritative cult that it is. It would have been terrible public relations, and they still would have had to pay the money. And that’s why they paid the money when they did, to avoid the bad PR."
Some of Scientology's highest-ranking members have disagreed with Greene in print interviews: Kurt Weiland, Director of external affairs for the Church of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs, Scientology's vice president of communications and a member of the organization's Board of Directors, has stated "We don't react kindly to attempts to extort money from the church, especially if it's done through lies and allegations by people like Ford Greene." Kendrick Moxon, Scientology's lead counsel gathered information on Greene as part of what he termed a "simple, standard check".
Greene also successfully represented client Raul Lopez against the church; Lopez had suffered partial brain damage in an auto accident and turned to Scientology, subsequently donating or 'investing' most of his 1.7 million-dollar accident settlement money to the church.
- Finalist, Trial Lawyer of the Year award 2003 (by the organization Trial Lawyers for Public Justice) for his success in the Wollersheim case, lost to Tony Serra.
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