June 23, 1995
Mark Lane Proves to be Courtroom Liability
In a three-day hearing, June 15-16, and 23, attorneys for Willis Carto failed to persuade a California judge that the search warrants issued for the March 22 police raid on the Carto and Fischer residences were improper, and that the search was unlawful.
Rejecting arguments presented by Carto attorneys Randall Waier and Mark Lane, Judge Susanne Shaw ruled June 23 that the search warrants (issued by Shaw) were valid.
The “Motion to Traverse” hearing was Carto’s second attempt to derail the criminal investigation against him and Fischer. Last month, Carto failed to have the search warrants quashed.
Carto’s goal in each hearing was to prevent law enforcement authorities from having access to the evidence seized in the police searches, which were conducted as part of the ongoing police investigation of Carto and Fischer for embezzlement of millions of dollars from the Institute and its parent corporation.
Police investigators have publicly confirmed that documents seized in the searches further corroborate the case against Carto and Fischer.
Larry Rooker, investigator for the Costa Mesa police, testified for about three hours on June 15 about information he had provided to Judge Shaw as the basis for the search warrants. Rooker reaffirmed to the court his conviction that Carto and Fischer are criminals, and that Mark Weber and Tom Marcellus — representing the IHR and its parent corporation — had acted honestly and in good faith in bringing information about Carto and Fischer to the police.
Michelle Vadon, attorney for Rooker and the City of Costa Mesa, says that evidence taken in the police search “does support the allegations of embezzlement, in our opinion.” (Newport Beach Daily Pilot, June 16)
Marcellus and Weber also testified, undergoing hours of questioning by Randall Waier, Carto’s California attorney.
Apparently concerned that Waier would not be able to handle things by himself, Carto called in Mark Lane from the East coast. For years Lane has served as General Counsel of Liberty Lobby, the Carto-controlled “populist” organization in Washington, DC. (During the 1970s Lane served as attorney and spokesman for Jonestown cult community leader Jim Jones. Lane once praised the communistic Jonestown community as “the closest thing on earth like paradise I have ever seen.")
Judge Shaw was unimpressed with Lane and Waier, and repeatedly rebuked them for their theatrical efforts to confuse the central issues with irrelevant arguments. Lane particularly seemed to grate on the Judge’s nerves, and his role steadily diminished during the hearing. Lane did not participate at all in the questioning of Weber, who was the final witness.
Summing up the legal wrangle, Costa Mesa attorney Vadon commented: Carto “seems to think the best defense is a strong offense: file a civil rights suit, challenge the warrant, sue everyone and maybe they'll go away. But we're not going to go away. There is no doubt. The documents are very clear.
Representing Weber and Marcellus in the hearing was William S. Hulsy, who has served as IHR’s attorney since 1991.
Police have returned to Carto all confiscated items not directly related to the criminal investigation.