Double Crossed

The Church of Scientology has a reputation for ruthlessly going after its enemies. Robert Cipriano claims Scientologists rewarded him for helping them do just that. Now he's turned on them.

But even his admirers say Berry's over-the-top strategies have been as much to blame for his downfall as Moxon and Scientology.

If at one time Berry's bold strategies scored him significant victories, his flair for the dramatic has worn thin with judges.

In August, L.A. Superior Court Judge Alexander H. Williams III declared Berry a vexatious litigant, a harsh and rare penalty meted out to attorneys who tie up courts with frivolous lawsuits.

Robert Cipriano

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Williams chided Berry for turning in needlessly voluminous filings and turning them in late.

Berry is appealing the ruling. He notes that Williams didn't reveal until well into Berry's 1998 lawsuit against Cipriano that Williams' fianc' works for the Church of Scientology as a translator and that his clerk worked for one of the law firms representing Scientology entities.

Berry also says it's outrageous that Moxon and other attorneys hired by Scientology -- such as L.A. Police Commission President Gerald Chaleff -- argued to Williams that Berry has clogged the court with conspiracy theories, when Moxon's own former client, Robert Cipriano, has come forward with evidence that the conspiracies really exist.

Judge Williams, bemoaning the "bizarre evolution of the relationship between Mr. Berry and Mr. Cipriano," decided Berry's point is irrelevant to the question of whether Berry has been a legal pain in the ass.

Even Cipriano has had second thoughts about Berry. Complaining that he's sick of being used by both sides, Cipriano says he's leaving the country to get away from Berry and the Church of Scientology's private investigators.

Other people who battle the church say it's a shame that Berry has been brought so low. But some wonder if Berry's legal and personal predicaments only take away from the significance of Robert Cipriano's stunning allegations, and they wonder if Cipriano's claims that the church is up to its old tricks will get the attention it deserves.

Says one attorney who litigates against the church: "The Cipriano declaration is a potentially fatal stab to the heart of Scientology. But, in the hands of Graham Berry, I wonder if it will be used as effectively as it could be."

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