Judge sets new rules for Scientologists and Florida protesters

Posted: Friday, August 03, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A judge has taken steps to try to end public bickering between the Church of Scientology and one of its critics, the Lisa McPherson Trust.

Circuit Judge Thomas Penick said each side, if wanting to picket, must give an hour's notice to Clearwater police.

Penick also set a 10-foot separation rule and forbade either side from yelling, shouting, whistling, singing or creating loud noise that would disturb ''reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities.''

The order extends a previous no-picket zone to stop trust members from waving signs across from where church members get off a bus to go to the Scientology cafeteria. The cafeteria is a block from the trust headquarters.

Police were frustrated by frequent calls to arbitrate minor incidents between the two sides, said Robert J. Surette, police legal adviser.

McPherson, a 36-year-old Scientologist, died in 1995 after 17 days in the care of Scientology staffers.

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