A federal judge who ruled in April that Mayor Wu doesn't have to travel to Salem to take questions from a Satanic lawyer ruled again today that Wu still doesn't have to go to Salem to take questions from the lawyer - let alone after first being forced to sit through a Satanic ceremony.
The Satanic Temple sued the Boston City Council last year for the way councilors have refused to ask any of its members to give one of the invocations that start the council's Wednesday meetings, which the group says violates the First Amendment ban on government recognition of particular religions.
The group initially tried to make Wu trek up to Salem for a potentially hours-long deposition on Election Day. US District Court Judge Angel Kelley, however, said, first temporarily and then permanently, that other city officials could answer the Satanic Temple's deposition questions about council invocation procedures and that it should stop its obvious attempts to harass Wu.
Then, in e-mail to a city attorney and in court filings in recent weeks, Satanic Temple attorney Matt Kezhaya said Wu had to show up for questioning - ultimately setting a date next week - or he would seek an order to have her arrested, because Kelley's April ruling didn't say what the city, or Kelley herself, said it did and that he still had the right to seek answers from Wu. He added that before the formal questioning began, Wu would have to sit through a Satanic ceremony:
For strategic reasons, I need to depose Mayor Wu at the Temple. She needs to see the people who she is excluding from the public sphere. She needs to hear the congregants' blessing ceremony. She must then answer why she refused to invite them, for favor of inviting someone else.
Oh, and by the way, he said in e-mail to a city attorney, he wondered if the city and Kelley were involved in "official corruption" in the case.
In quashing the deposition demand today, Kelley told Kezhaya he's skating on thin ice, that he needs to come to grips with basic legal and court procedures - like the way to try to get Wu in for questioning is to file a motion for her to reconsider her ruling denying that, not simply issuing a deposition subpoena and "status reports" claiming the judge did not earlier rule the way she ruled.
Any motion for reconsideration must state which additional facts, adduced through discovery in the intervening months, have materially changed the circumstances such that the deposition of Mayor Wu is now necessary. Such a motion must specify how such facts were adduced, what efforts the parties have made to discover the information Plaintiff seeks through the avenues permitted by the Protective Order, why the other witnesses the City has identified cannot be sources of this information and, why, on the basis of such newly discovered facts, there is reason to believe that Mayor Wu’s testimony will be of unique relevance to this case. Moreover, such a motion must further demonstrate that the above factors supporting modification outweigh the potential for the deposition to be harassing, duplicative, and unduly burdensome.
Kelley also ordered Kezhaya to immediately stop filing time-wasting "status reports" that serve no purpose other than to prove to her "that Plaintiff has not read or complied with [the court's] previous orders."
Kelley wrote that while she is taking no action on a request from the city for sanctions based on Kezhaya's renewed Wu deposition demand and what Kezhaya later clarified was simple "sarcasm" in his corruption accusation, she "will consider imposition of sanctions if Plaintiff’s counsel continues to indicate to the Court that he is not complying with orders or conducting discovery in good faith."