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COURT ORDERS IRS TO PAY FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE 'COMPETENT' WITNESS

COURT ORDERS IRS TO PAY FOR FAILURE TO PROVIDE 'COMPETENT' WITNESS
 LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Church of Scientology issued the following:
 A U.S. District Court judge has issued a blistering order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case against the IRS for failure to produce a "competent" witness to provide justifications for the IRS' refusal to produce records requested by the Church of Scientology International.
 The Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall criticized the IRS for its failure to provide a proper witness prepared to "answer fully, completely and unevasively," questions posed by Church counsel regarding the records, despite an earlier order from the court that the IRS do so.
 Noting that "(f)uture non-compliance" with the court's orders would be subject to contempt charges, Marshall poignantly noted that IRS representative attorney Steven Harris, had "demonstrated" he was not a competent person to provide the needed information, despite his having drafted the index of the withheld records. Harris' Index set forth in conclusionary terms, why the IRS believed it should not be required to comply with the FOIA to produce the records.
 Apparently scolding the IRS, the order pointed out that, "The purpose of the ... Index is not merely to inform the requester of the agency's conclusion that a particular document is exempt from disclosure," and allowed the IRS 30 days to produce a new, "more adequate" Index.
 The court further stated the precise alleged basis for non-disclosure "must include: (i) the date of each withheld document; (ii) the origin of each withheld document, and; (iii) what ultimate decision formed the basis for the ... claims to exemption based on 'governmental privilege.'"
 The IRS was also ordered to pay Church expenses and fees as, "the IRS' failure to produce a competent ... witness was not substantially justified, particularly after the court expressed its intention that he IRS do so."
 "It is unfortunate that the IRS refuses to comply to the law and requires citizens to go to the courts to obtain documents and then again fails to abide by the rules of the court," stated Alex Jones, spokesman for the Church of Scientology.
 -0- 2/10/92
 /CONTACT: Shirley Young of the Church of Scientology, 213-666-3424/ CO: Church of Scientology ST: California IN: SU: :END


MK -- DC026 -- 8362 02/10/92 14:08 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 10, 1992
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