A lawyer for the Satanic Temple of Salem says he's going to seek a bench warrant for Michelle Wu's arrest if she doesn't show up in Salem on Sept. 12 for a deposition in the group's lawsuit over how the City Council opens its meetings with an invocation by a religious leader, and never mind that a federal judge has already told the group it can't make Wu sit for hours answering questions about the invocations.
Satanic lawyer Matt Kezhaya made his threat and allegations in e-mail to a city attorney yesterday after she told him that, no, Wu is not going to Salem next week, and reminding him that US District Court Angel Kelley ruled in April against the group's legal effort to make Wu sit for a deposition.
Kezhaya first questioned why city funds were being used to protect Wu when she was being sued "in her personal capacity, not as 'Mayor'," then added:
Speaking as a reasonable third-party observer, it feels an awful lot like public funds are being abused to insure to Wu's private benefit. Something smells fishy. Please tell me, lawyer-to-lawyer, if there is any form of official corruption going on between the City of Boston and USDJ Kelley, D. Mass.
Please also be honest, because when my curiosity is piqued I tend to start demanding evidence.
When Nicole O'Connor, Boston's senior assistant corporation counsel, didn't respond after 45 minutes, he wrote her again that her time was up and now he's really going to get investigating.
O'Connor included copies of Kezhaya's e-mails as exhibits attached to a motion today to quash, again, the group's effort to make Wu sit for questioning and to sanction the Satanic Temple for his conduct by either by dismissing the case altogether or, at a minimum, forcing the group to reimburse the city for the time she and other lawyers had to spend dealing with the messages:
The City can only infer that these bizarre and unfounded accusations, coupled with the Satanic Temple’s insistence on moving forward with Mayor Wu’s deposition despite a protective order that explicitly prohibits them from doing so, are designed to harass, annoy, and cause undue burden to the City and Mayor Wu.
To that end, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(d)(3), the City respectfully moves this Court to quash the deposition of Mayor Wu that is scheduled for September 12, 2022. Additionally, because it has become clear that the Satanic Temple is using this litigation as a mechanism to harass, annoy, and cause undue burden to the City and its employees—rather than to seek the discovery it actually needs regarding its only remaining claim in this case—the City requests that this action be dismissed as a sanction for the Satanic Temple’s refusal to abide by a court order. Alternatively, the City seeks attorney’s fees and costs for having to file the instant motion.
In her order to permanently quash any Wu deposition, Kelley slapped Kezhaya for "impermissible antics and abusive tactics" and asked the city to figure out the value of its attorneys' time in dealing with the request so that she could order the group to pay reimbursement.
The group, frustrated in its attempt to give an invocation before the council because no councilors want to issue it an invitation, sued on First Amendment grounds in January, 2021, to either block invocations by religious leaders or make them let any group, including theirs, give an invocation. Councilors currently take turns inviting religious leaders to start their weekly meetings.
In October, the group tried making Wu travel to Witch City on Election Day last November for a deposition, in part to mess with her, but Kelley ordered them not to, at first temporarily, then permanently.
Last July, US District Court Judge Allison Burroughs dismissed parts of the Satanic Temple's suit, but ruled that the group had made a "plausible" enough case that the way the council picks who gives invocations violates the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, to continue to a trial. The clause prohibits government favoritism towards particular religions.