Former Soka University Professor Loses Appeal in Religious Discrimination Case

Categories: School Daze
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An ex-professor at Soka University of America (SUA) who sued the school for religious discrimination has lost her appeal against a decision made in favor of the Aliso Viejo university.

Gaye Christoffersen was the subject of an OC Weekly cover story on former SUA faculty members and students who claim they were deceived by the university's nonsectarian status. The ex-professor of political science alleged she was denied tenure because she refused to abandon her Lutheran faith to join Soka Gakkai, the Buddhist sect that founded the 10-year-old university. Christoffersen, who was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial, also sued the school for age discrimination, claiming that younger professors with fewer achievements were granted tenure.  

On Friday, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana rejected Christoffersen's appeal that the Superior Court of Orange County erred in granting summary judgment to the defendant.

University officials involved in the tenure process declared in documents that they did not know the religion or age of any of the candidates who were being considered for tenure.

SUA has previously been attacked by former faculty who say they were discriminated based on their non-Buddhist beliefs.

In 2002, Linda Southwell, a terminated fine-arts professor, sued the school for $25 million, alleging religious discrimination, wrongful termination and fraud, among other charges. She came to a settlement, which included a confidentiality clause. In 2005, Holly Ogren, a professor of Japanese language and culture, also sued Soka in Orange County Superior Court for religious discrimination, alleging she was "severely mistreated, degraded and berated" and "ultimately terminated for being a Hare Krishna." The case was dismissed in 2006.

Edward Feasel, the school's dean of faculty, has said, "We give absolutely no preferential treatment based on religion."

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Honestly
Honestly

A lot of closet racists spouting all sorts of copy/ paste nonsense in these comments. If you don't like Soka, elect to go to college or send your kids to college somewhere else.

Also, if you're a below average faculty member, accept you got denied tenure instead of crying boogeyman. If you have the superior academic chops and truly were wrongly denied it shouldn't be too hard to find a school that would hire you (unless they take into account your toxic decision to sue your employer). Professors may be book smart, but they can be unbelievably stupid.

uhlocalboy
uhlocalboy

@Honestly Typical response from a Soka student/alum. Well done.

Andrea Cross Isrow
Andrea Cross Isrow

ummm "Guest" ? What country in the world are you from? Cause I know you can't be from the US if you think shakabuku is illegal here...we have this thing called "freedom of speech" -- ever heard of it? Anyway, three cases for religious discrimination, one dismissed (no case) another granted summary judgment for SGI -- which is when the judge reads the pleadings and decides "no case." One settled. Not seeing much to be all up in arms about. Sounds like a lot of people with their undies in a bunch because they were dismissed, and decided that "religious discrimination" was a good way to fight back.

figure it out
figure it out

it seems shakubuku has different meanings in other country, maybe you are the one who should read about it because the truth is american sgi members don't know what the sgi is like in japan, china, and other nations. we really can't say we have any idea from either side of the argument. we just have to stop arguing through our pride, and figure out the truth..

Artist1
Artist1

Easy for you to say just drop it. This is someone's professional life. A very accomplished and well respected professor has been mistreated by Soka. Yes, Soka can spend a lot of money on lawyers and beat anyone down. But in the end, Soka is spiraling down by hiring and promoting those Soka Gakkai professors who have no credentials. The School is becoming a joke.

Infinitepla
Infinitepla

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

Infinitepla
Infinitepla

CHRISTOFFERSEN v. SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICAGAYE CHRISTOFFERSEN, Plaintiff and Appellant,v.SOKA UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Defendant and Respondent.

No. G042935.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Three.

Filed April 15, 2011.Glicker & Associates, Brian Glicker, and Maryam Atighechi; Gaye Christoffersen, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Steven D. Weinstein, David M. Lester, and Adam L. Johnson for Defendant and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

OPINION

IKOLA, J.Plaintiff Gaye Christoffersen appeals a judgment entered in favor of defendant Soka University of America (Soka) following a successful summary judgment motion.1 Christoffersen does not contend summary judgment was inappropriate based on the evidence presented to the court in the parties' respective submissions; instead, she argues the court erred by declining to continue the summary judgment hearing to allow Christoffersen additional time for discovery pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (h).2 We affirm. Christoffersen failed to make an adequate showing under section 437c, subdivision (h), and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the request for a continuance.

FACTS

Christoffersen, a university professor, sued Soka for alleged religious discrimination and age discrimination after Soka denied her application for tenure. Christoffersen alleged she was denied tenure because: (1) she refused to join a Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International-USA (Soka Gakkai); and (2) she was 62 years old at the time of her tenure denial.Christoffersen's initial complaint was filed on May 22, 2008, and her first amended complaint was filed September 4, 2008. Soka filed an answer to the first amended complaint on February 4, 2009.

Motion for Summary Judgment

On April 24, 2009, Soka filed a motion for summary judgment, noticing the hearing for September 4, 2009. Soka asserted Christoffersen could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination because Soka had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decision to deny tenure to Christoffersen, and because there was no evidence the stated reasons for the decision were pretextual.

Included with Soka's summary judgment papers were declarations by several Soka officials involved in the tenure process. For instance, Provost Tomoko Takahashi declared in relevant part: "Dr. Christoffersen was one of four candidates being considered for tenure in Spring 2008, whose applications I reviewed. Neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates. In fact, at all times during the Spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure. The three other candidates were granted tenure."

Also included in the summary judgment papers were declarations executed by the three professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008. Professor Edward Lowe attested: he was granted tenure in the spring of 2008; he was not and is not a member of the religious organization Soka Gakkai; he was 41 years old in the spring of 2008; and he had no knowledge that religion or age played a role in his tenure application. Professor XiaoXing Liu and Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, both awarded tenure in the spring of 2008 at ages 56 and 50, respectively, also attested to their lack of Soka Gakkai membership and the absence of religion or age as a factor in the tenure application process.

Discovery

Christoffersen never served any written discovery requests (i.e., interrogatories, inspection demands, or requests for admission) during the pendency of the lawsuit.On July 22, 2009, Christoffersen served deposition notices (set for August 5-7) for four Soka-affiliated individuals: Dean of Faculty Edward Feasel, Provost Tomoko Takahashi, Professor Phat Vu, and Professor Gail Thomas. After discussion by the parties as to witness availability, the depositions were scheduled for August 6, August 7, August 12, and August 13. Nevertheless, on August 11, Christoffersen called off the depositions of Professor Thomas and Dean Feasel, claiming the depositions could not proceed without the production of records pertaining to the professors who received tenure in the spring of 2008.

The deposition notices specified certain categories of documents to be produced at the depositions. The Dean Feasel notice included (among 25 separate requests) requests for: "documents which show that `neither religion nor age played any role in my decision regarding tenure for any of the candidates'"; "documents which show that `in fact, at all times during spring 2008 tenure review process, I did not know the religion or age of any of the four candidates who were being considered for tenure'"; and "documents upon which you relied to grant the three other candidates tenure." The notice for Provost Takahashi included similar document requests among the 25 categories requested. The other two deposition notices did not request documents pertaining to the other spring 2008 candidates for tenure.

Ex Parte Application

On August 13, 2009, Christoffersen filed an ex parte application, seeking the following relief: (1) an order compelling Soka to produce certain "tenure packets," which consisted of documents pertaining to the successful tenure applications of professors who were granted tenure at the same time Soka denied tenure to Christoffersen; and (2) an order continuing the summary judgment hearing.

In addition to a memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen's attorney, Maryam Atighechi, filed a separate document in support of the ex parte application. Although this document was titled "Declaration of Maryam Atighechi," it was not executed under penalty of perjury.

The document stated as follows: "1. I am an attorney at law . . . . All of the statements made herein are of my own personal knowledge and, if called upon to testify thereto could, and would, do so competently. [¶] 2. [I provided sufficient ex parte notice to counsel for opposing parties.] [¶] 3. The application to continue the Motion for Summary Judgment is made in good faith. At the deposition of Provost Tomoko Takahashi Plaintiff learned that the Provost's decision to grant or deny an applicant's tenure was inconsistent with the [Rank and Tenure Committee's] recommendations. [¶] 4. Plaintiff needs further discovery in order to properly oppose Soka University's Motion for Summary Judgment.""5. The discovery plaintiff is requesting are the documents pertaining to 1) Application for tenure 2) [Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 3) [university-wide University Rank and Tenure Committee] report and notes 4) Dean Feasel's reports and notes 5) Provost Tomoko Takahashi's decision 6) IDEA evaluations for the five individuals granted tenure.""6. Soka University provided supporting declarations from two applicants who were granted tenure alleging that neither age nor religion played a role in granting them tenure. [¶] 7. Plaintiff needs to evaluate the tenure packet to determine the basis for granting them tenure. This is especially true since at the Provosts deposition she admitted that the [Rank and Tenure Committee] recommended denial of tenure for certain applicants including Hiroshimi Matsumoto. [¶] 8. A continuance is needed to obtain facts essential to oppose the motion for summary judgment."

The court denied the ex parte application by way of a minute order dated August 14, 2009. Christoffersen represents in her brief that the court "did not provide a reason as to the denial of the ex parte application and, after reproaching counsel for Christoffersen for generating paperwork, instructed that the request for continuance be made in the Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment." Christoffersen elected to proceed on appeal without a reporter's transcript. Thus, it is impossible for this court to consider what was said by the court at the ex parte hearing.

Opposition to Summary Judgment

One week later, Christoffersen filed her opposition to Soka's summary judgment motion. In her memorandum of points and authorities, Christoffersen repeated the argument she raised in her ex parte application: the court should compel production of tenure packets for those professors who received tenure contemporaneously with Christoffersen's rejection and the court should continue the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to review the tenure packets.

Attorney Maryam Ateghechi filed a declaration (under penalty of perjury) in opposition to Soka's motion for summary judgment. But this declaration made no mention of the need for additional evidence and a continuance. Instead, Ateghechi purported to authenticate various exhibits (e.g., deposition transcript excerpts, documents obtained during the litigation or from public sources) for purposes of opposing the motion for summary judgment on the merits.

Ruling

The court granted Soka's summary judgment motion. The court explained its denial of the request for continuance in a written order as follows: "Plaintiff has failed to submit a declaration detailing what facts she intended to obtain to oppose the motion and why such evidence could not be presented at the present time. In addition, plaintiff has not demonstrated reasonable diligence in discovery. This motion was filed in April." As noted above, Christoffersen elected to proceed without a reporter's transcript; thus, we are unable to consider what might have been said at the summary judgment hearing. The court entered judgment on September 29, 2009.

Christoffersen asserts the court erred in granting summary judgment. Her sole argument is that the court should have continued the summary judgment hearing to allow her time to discover additional facts to oppose the motion.3"If it appears from the affidavits submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment . . . that facts essential to justify opposition may exist but cannot, for reasons stated, then be presented, the court shall deny the motion, or order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or discovery to be had or may make any other order as may be just. The application to continue the motion to obtain necessary discovery may also be made by ex parte motion at any time on or before the date the opposition response to the motion is due." (§ 437c, subd. (h), italics added.)A court must provide relief to a party opposing summary judgment if a proper showing is made by affidavit. (Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 167.) "Continuance of a summary judgment hearing is not mandatory, however, when no affidavit is submitted or when the submitted affidavit fails to make the necessary showing under section 437c, subdivision (h). [Citations.] Thus, in the absence of an affidavit that requires a continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), we review the trial court's denial of appellant's request for a continuance for abuse of discretion." (Cooksey v. Alexakis (2004) 123 Cal.App.4th 246, 254 (Cooksey).)"A declaration in support of a request for continuance under section 437c, subdivision (h), must show: `(1) the facts to be obtained are essential to opposing the motion; (2) there is reason to believe such facts may exist; and (3) the reasons why additional time is needed to obtain these facts. [Citations.]' [Citation.] . . . `It is not sufficient under the statute merely to indicate further discovery or investigation is contemplated. The statute makes it a condition that the party moving for a continuance show "facts essential to justify opposition may exist."'" (Cooksey, supra, 123 Cal.App.4th at p. 254.) A lack of diligence in pursuing discovery is a recognized factor supporting the denial of a continuance request. (Id. at p. 257.) "A good faith showing that further discovery is needed to oppose summary judgment requires some justification for why such discovery could not have been completed sooner." (Ibid.)

Here, Christoffersen failed to comply with the most basic aspect of the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h) — submission of an affidavit pertaining to the need for a continuance. (See Mahoney v. Southland Mental Health Associates Medical Group (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 167, 170.) Atighechi's "declaration" in support of the ex parte application was not filed under penalty of perjury and therefore cannot be considered an "affidavit" at all. "An affidavit is a written declaration under oath . . . ." (§ 2003.) An affidavit (or declaration) executed in California should include a representation "in substantially the following form: [¶] . . . `I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct' . . . ." (§ 2015.5, subd. (a).)

Atighechi's declaration in opposition to the summary judgment motion had no bearing on the issue of a continuance. Material in a memorandum of points and authorities or argument raised orally is insufficient to meet the requirements of section 437c, subdivision (h). (Ambrose v. Michelin North America, Inc. (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1353-1354; American Continental Ins. Co. v. C & Z Timber Co. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 1271, 1280.)

Moreover, even if we were to credit Ateghechi's ex parte "declaration" as an "affidavit," Christoffersen still fell short of the requirements under section 437c, subdivision (h). Ateghechi expressed a desire to obtain specific categories of documents in the "tenure packets" of several professors who received tenure at the time Christoffersen was denied tenure. But Ateghechi did not explain how obtaining such documents would provide her with "facts essential to justify opposition" as required by section 437c, subdivision (h). The tenor of the request is that exploratory discovery needed to occur, rather than Christoffersen needed more time to obtain specific facts to oppose the summary judgment motion.

Furthermore, Christoffersen made no showing of diligence in the discovery process. Her ex parte application (filed one week before her opposition to the motion for summary judgment was due) attempted to compel the production of the "tenure packets." But Christoffersen never made a freestanding request for production of such documents under section 2031.010, and only (arguably) requested such documents in deposition notices served less than a month before her opposition to summary judgment was due. Even assuming the document requests in the deposition notices can be read to include requests for the tenure packets, Christoffersen made no effort to explain why she waited so long to seek these documents.

Given the lack of a sufficient declaration, the court's decision to deny Christoffersen's request for continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. The factors identified by the court in its minute order (failure to prepare proper declaration, lack of diligence) and the rest of the record provided to us suggest the court was within its discretion. Moreover, Christoffersen's failure to provide this court with a reporter's transcript precludes a review of the trial court's comments at the hearing for an abuse of discretion. (Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal.4th 121, 132.)

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed. Soka shall recover costs incurred on appeal.WE CONCUR:O'LEARY, ACTING P. J.FYBEL, J.

kelpszoidzl zelps
kelpszoidzl zelps

The courts in the area need to take another look. And the teachers need to band together. Eventually the SGI will show it's hand and the courts will wise up.

seriously
seriously

brainwashed - think for yourself instead of through the organization's words

Guest
Guest

Christoffersen's lawyer disappeared half way through the appeal process, or he "was disappeared" by someone. It could be very dangerous business to sue a university run by Soka Gakkai. Without a lawyer, there is no way there could have been a just legal outcome.

Guest
Guest

Christoffersen's lawyer was disbarred because of another case. Conspiracy theories are more exciting though!

Sun Tsu
Sun Tsu

You obviously know absolutely nothing about the law and how the courts work. "Without a lawyer" you say. Who do you think runs the courts, the Soka Gakkai? It is well known that courts oversee themselves and have rules and prodecures of fairness based on the law. So if she was not represented and needed/wanted representation the court would have intervened with some solution to her problem of representation.What you said has no validity.Perhaps you should tell the truth if you are going to comment at all.

Patrick
Patrick

"Disapeared" or just gave up, what is the Lawyers name?Then google it..Your talking like the school is the Mafia, for what reason?

Guest
Guest

 

Tadamas Goto and his autobiography are back in the news:Tadamasa Goto, ex-crime boss, Buddhist priest, about tolearn more about karma (因果応報)

October 25, 2011 | Jake Adelstein http://www.japansubculture.com

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) istightening up their investigation of former mob boss Tadamasa Goto, allegedBuddhist priest and best-selling author, on charges of two murders. Last weekthe TMPD arrested former Goto-gumi member and currently Yamaguchi-gumiRachi-gumi member (山口組良知組)–Hideo Matsumoto (松本英也容疑者)of charges of pre-meditated murder. On the 24th of October (2011) the TMPDraided the offices of Rachi-gumi looking for related evidence. Rachi-gumi wasone of two groups that Goto-gumi was split into after Goto’s ouster in Octoberof 2010.

One of the two person teams that was used to kill Nozaki,former Goto-gumi member Takashi Kondo, (近藤毅), was himself gunned downin Thailand this April. Mr. Matsumoto may have functioned as the look-out. Goto-gumiassassination squads usually functioned with four to five people, often with noprevious meetings—aka Reservoir Dogs style.Police sources believe thatMatsumoto, instructed Mr. Kondo to flee to China. Matsumoto is also believed tohave financially supported Kondo while he was in hiding, possibly with Goto’sfinancial aid.

This April, according to underworld sources, Kondo waspromised a new passport and a new life by Tadamasa Goto, and left China forCambodia where he entered Thailand and was killed in a bloody shooting match.The Thai Police are dubious that the Thai guide who turned himself in actuallyshot Kondo and his friend.

Goto Tadamasa was the head of the Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi (山口組後藤組)untilOctober 14th 2008, when he was forced out of Japan’s largest criminalorganization, the Yamaguchi-gumi, which has 39,000 members. In his prime, hecontrolled over a thousand gangsters and affiliates, one hundred frontcompanies and assets of over a billion dollars. He may also have been involvedin the Olympus scandal as well which could have generated huge funds for theYamaguchi-gumi Corporation. However, his back-door deal with the FBI to get aliver transplant at UCLA, along with liver transplants for three other yakuza,his insubordination, and his habit of condoning and/or ordering attacks oninnocent civilians resulted in the organization council deciding to force himinto retirement.

In December of 2010, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (TMPD)arrested a former member of the Yamaguchi-gumiGoto-gumi (NobuyukiYamamoto) for killing a real estate consultant, Kazuoki Nozaki, in adispute over a valuable building in Shibuya ward. The murder took place in2006. A Goto-gumi front company was laying claim to the building and Nozaki-sanwas an obstacle in their plans. He was stabbed to death on the streets ofMinato-ward. Yamamoto has denied receiving direct orders from Goto Tadamasa,his former gang-boss. An international arrest warrant for the superior ofNobuyuki Yamamoto was issued after Yamamoto’s arrest, a man known as KondoTakashi (近藤毅) also a former Goto-gumi member. The TMPD felt they had astrong case on circumstantial evidence alone that Goto had ordered the hit butno direct testimony from someone receiving orders. Kondo, they felt, was thekey to making their case.

Nobuyuki Yamamoto was convicted of murder on May 14th andsentenced to 13 years of hard labor, as requested by the prosecutor. The judgedat sentencing noted, “It was an outrageous killing of an ordinary citizen.”According to the ruling, Yamamoto, who was a member of the Goto-gumi and underGoto’s supervision at the time of the crime, working with another Goto-gumimember Kondo Takashi (under international arrest warrant for the same murder),plotted together and on the evening of March 5th, 2006, they stabbed Mr. Nozakito death on the streets of Minato-ward Aoyama area.

Kondo is unilikely to be prosecuted since he was assassinatedin April before he could talk. 死人に口なし: Dead men have nomouths. (Harlan Ellison would appreciate this saying.)

On April 27th, 2011, a Thai tour guide was arrested after heconfessed to shooting to death one Japanese tourist and wounding another whilethey were trekking in northern Thailand. Thetwo “tourists” are former yakuza members.

Apichart Inphisak, the 41-year-old guide, was arrested at afriend’s house 30 kilometers from Chiang Rai. The pistol he said he used toshoot the two Japanese was confiscated, according to local Thai press sources.Japanese police sources assert that the two Japanese individuals were bothmembers of the Yamaguchi-gumi Goto-gumi. One of the individuals is believed tohave involved in the murder of real estate agent, Nozaki Kazuoki, in 2006.

On conditions of anonymity, Japanese police sources said,“It’s clear that the two were assassinated on orders of former members of theGoto-gumi, possibly Goto himself. This makes prosecuting the case or taking itall the way up to the top extremely difficult.” The Thai English Newspaper, theNation reported one of the victims as being “Takashi Kodo, age 44, of theSedu-kai gang in Tokyo”. This was Kondo Takashi (近藤毅)ofthe Yamaguchi-gumi Yamaken-gumi Seiryukai. (山口組山健組誠竜会)which has 120members. The Goto-gumi was closely tied to the Yamaken-gumi in the past. Otherlaw enforcement sources place him as having been in the Yamaguchi-gumi Rachi-gumiSeiryukai (山口組良知組政竜会). Kondo was lured to Thailandfrom China where he had been in hiding. He allegedly was promised via a Gotoemissary a new passport, a reward for keeping quiet, and a new life. He justended up very dead. Police have confirmed that Kondo was the man killed. Localsources also note that the gun brought in by the Thai guide and the caliber ofthe bullet shot into Kondo don’t match. Further details are unavailable.

Earlier last month, the TMPD sent police officers toThailand inquire into the death of Kondo and positively identify the body. TheTMPD believe that Kondo may have been killed on Goto’s orders. The TokyoProsecutor’s Office is reconsidering charging Goto with murder based oncircumstantial evidence alone and possibly newer evidence as well. GotoTadamasa renounced his life of crime and became a Buddhist priest in 2009, andhas been doing charitable acts. It may not be enough however to escape alifetime of bad karma in the metaphysical world or justice in this world.Police sources note that Goto has been associating with a senior boss of the Kyushu Seido-kai (九州誠道会)andcould possible be considering a return to organized crime.

Goto’s biography, 憚りながら(Habakarinagara) (Pardon me…but you’re wrong), was issued last year byTakarajima Publications last year and was a huge best-seller. In the book, Gotobrags of his political connections and shows no remorse for the attacks his owngang members made on the film director Itami Juzo in 1992. Itami had made amovie, TheGentle Art of Japanese Extortion, (民暴の女) depicting theyakuza as a cancer on society and this had offended Goto. In the book Gotodenied ordering the director to be attacked but praised the guts and initiativeof his underlings who slashed up the face of the film director. FormerGoto-gumi members also assert that Goto was responsible for later having thedirector killed, by forcing him to jump off a roof-top at gun-point as to makeit appear as if he committed suicide. The Goto-gumi member believed to havedone the killing, Takao Mikuni (三國孝雄) a Yamaguchi-gumiGoto-gumi Ishikawa-gumi Wakagashira, has been missing for two years. The lastcommunication fellow gang member had with him was a cryptic conversation inwhich he said, “The old man (親父)is going to have mekilled. I know too much.”

Guest
Guest

Probably influenced by President Obama's executive order, Japannow has new legislation, called the “boryokudan haijojorei” (暴力団排除条例)or the “organized crime exclusion laws”, that criminalizes working with theyakuza. The law went into effect October 1, 2011. Japanese organizations thathire the yakuza will now be subjected to criminal prosecution. It will now beharder to do business in the usual way in Japan or the US. This is a positive result in exposing yakuza-related organizations in the US. 

Guest
Guest

Somebody has finally realized the nature of the threat. On July 24, 2011 President Obama signed an Executive Order Blocking Property of TransnationalCriminal Organizations. This is directed at the Yakuza [and Russia mafia]because "Such organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated anddangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in theoperations of foreign governments and the international financial system,thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, andundermining economic markets. These organizations facilitate and aggravateviolent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of otherdangerous persons. I therefore determine that significant transnational criminalorganizations constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the nationalsecurity, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and hereby declarea national emergency to deal with that threat."

The entireexecutive order is worth reading.

Patrick
Patrick

Lawyer name, Maryam Atighechi, The Japanese mafia guy in your article never testified anything, He was "going to" disclose his dirty deeds, but never did, so, no there is no proof that any exisited. You can say you are "going to say" anything, but unless its under oath, it is not a proven statement.

Patrick
Patrick

"Disapeared" or just gave up, what is the Lawyers name?Then google it..

Guest
Guest

We have been reading: Jake Adelstein, "The last Yakuza," World Policy Journal Summer 2010, Vol. 27, No. 2, Pages 63-71, who discusses Soka Gakkai's use of the Japanese yakuza [mafia].And also: Last year, a mafia chieftain confessed to doing dirty work for Soka Gakkai in Habakarinagara (憚りながら)["pardon me, but . . ."] by Tadamasa Goto [connections to Soka Gakkai in Chap 4]Dirty tricks are not new according to Michael Isikoff. "Internal Affairs: A case raises serious issues about the safeguarding of NCIC records," Newsweek, July 26, 2000, <http: 438123.asp="" news="" www.msnbc.com="">. Soka Gakkai tried to tap into FBI records and was investigated by the US Congress.</http:>

LKBG
LKBG

just drop it

Guest
Guest

Doing Shokabuku in the US is not legal, and some day Soka Gakkai should be held accountable. According to a Soka Gakkai website, Shokabuku is rampant even in China! I wonder what the connections to Falungong are?

Who says cannotdo shakubuku in China?? May 14, '08 4:14 PM

by sgi316 for everyone   http://sokagakkaisgi.multiply....

Iread a lot of nonsense in emails being circulated, such as cannot do shakubukuin China, can convert Chinese, cannot practise in China, etc.

Ihave been doing shakubuku in and out of China to China Nationals for manyyears. I know what is allowed and not.

Firstof all questions, wish to ask what is shakubuku?? Can be done in Shoju andrefuting Shakubuku. In China case we do shakubuku in shoju manner, try to beeasy with them. I don't usually begin to say "Hi, nice to meet you, I'm aSoka Gakkai member, do you know Soka Gakkai?? Do you know what is the threepoisons?? Or do you know what is Rissho-ankoku-ron?? If you do not, then youwaste my time and you are too stupid as you do not know what is true happiness."If you really do this, I'm very sure you will be sent to jail and get hardlabour for many years.

Inall shakubuku effort, you must try to make friends with the Chinese. Having alonger term relationship, they will naturally listen to you finally. Care forthem, concern for them and encourage them, not using Daishonin Buddhism, butall teachings close to Daishonin Buddhism. Even you can interpret Daishonin'sBuddhism in superficial manner, such as you don't discuss about the threepoisons, but you talk about karma, cause and effect using life examples inChina. After your audience have understood what you interpreted, then you jumpto the next easier step. Shakubuku is a long period effort and requirespatience. Don't force people to be same as you, such as "You must chant oryou will be sorry later." What you must do instead, you say "I willchant for you, but it is much better you can chant, as your problems are bestresolved by yourself."

Aboutpractise in China, don't chant too loud as they can complain to the police andyou will be named as practising cult religion and be sent off from China, andnever return again.

AboutSoka Center, if your effort is successful and your friend wishes to join in aSoka activity, you can bring them to HK-SGI centers or even SGI-Korea or Japanif they can travel abroad. I know Chinese can cross over to HK and Macao mucheasier than overseas, you can bring them to HK-SGI and SGI-Macau.

I also have a blog online in China discussingDaishonin Buddhism and other topics in very superficial manner and very simplediscussions about SGI and President Ikeda. The blog has since attracted manyChinese including monks and nuns in Chinese Buddhism. Try to be as simple aspossible and as slow and patient as possible, China Kofu will be successful andbears fruit one day.

Guest
Guest

As previous comments have mentioned Soka Gakkai's use ofcoercive "shokubuku" today reminds everyone of the Nichirenistsparticipation in "forced Japanization" in Taiwan, Korea, and Chinaunder the Japanese Imperial Army. It is not surprising that these sameNichirenists post-WWII, calling themselves Soka Gakkai, were not allowed intoTaiwan or South Korea, banned by the governments for their past affiliations.Today Soka Gakkai uses its 'thugs division' as the enforcer rather than theJapanese Imperial Army. What is criminal is the use of students at SokaUniversity to coerce victims with verbal assaults on non-Gakkai faculty.

Why would the Chinese authorities put up with even thesofter and sneakier version of shokubuku? Some day they will notice thisstealthy infiltration to reinstate "Hakko ichiu" in China.

Guest
Guest

Soka Gakkai's goal is to infiltrate the Chinese Communist Party. After they do that, no Chinese will be able to escape the Gakkai. Below is a description of what Soka Gakkai does in Japan using terror tactics. Do we want this kind of behavior in the US?In Japan: The Sōka Gakkai interpretation and practice of shakubuku first became widely known in Japan during and after SKG’s 1951 “Shakubuku March” campaigns, in which followers were compelled to engage in “Holy Shakubuku” with everyone they came into contact with.Over the years, many of those subjected to shakubuku have gone to the police and the media for help, but many in the media are afraid of themselves being subjected to SG harassment, and the police often find their hands tied. Political attempts to deal with the shakubuku problem have failed because of the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religion in JapanNon-SG Buddhists maintain that potential converts should be approached with respect, but SG members argue that it would be a sin to allow others in these Latter Days, including non-SG Buddhists, to die without the benefit of President Ikeda’s wisdom.Accordingly, SG shakubu tactics have included:■SG members follow the subject around, taking turns to engage the subject in supposedly-casual conversion, in which they attack the subject’s present religion and/or beliefs.■SG doctors, nurses and government employees abuse their authority, and try to coerce those under their authority to convert to SG in order to receive medical care, welfare, unemployment benefits, and so on.■They stalk psychologically vulnerable subjects and shout at them, warning them of the dangers of falling into hell. [For an example of the terminology deployed: From "The Victorious Future of Mentor and Disciple", Soka Gakkai World Tribune, 2000.12.01: "Traitors! Having turned your backs on the Daishonin's golden words, are you ready to be burned in the fires of the hell of incessant suffering? To be imprisoned in a cavern in the hell of extreme cold? To be shut off in the darkness of misery and strife, forever deprived of the sun's light?"]■SG members attack people whose children or other relatives have just died (or who are handicapped or ill), condemning them for having caused the death(s) (or handicaps, or illnesses) due to their non-righteousness. Or warning people that their loved ones could get sick or die if they don’t join SG.■SG members mob subjects, surround them in public, and otherwise try to embarrass them until they agree to attend an SG meeting.■SG members kidnap subjects and force them to undergo SG indoctrination.■SG members assume false identities, approach people under false circumstances, befriend sunjects, and gather information on them, such as their family relatiuons, their address, phone numbers, emails, and so on.■SG members organize social events and front groups, such as Anime appreciation groups or celibrities’ fan clubs, in order to get close to potential subjects■SG members steal mobile phones in order to make contact with those people whose information is stored in the contact or call lists.■SG members subject non-SG members to social ostracize at schools or workplaces in which there are already a number of SG members, until the subjects attempt to ingratiate themselves by attending SG meetings.■SG members would surround a home and make noises until a family member agreed to join

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