By Gustavo Arellano
By OC Weekly Staff
By R. Scott Moxley
By Michelle Woo
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gabriel San Roman
By Gustavo Arellano
In a Santa Ana federal courtroom on Sept. 8, Dr. Orly Taitz had a clear message for Judge David O. Carter: Lucas Smith, a witness whom she had brought from the Dominican Republic that morning, had to testify that day—before it was too late.
“The biggest issue we have today is that evidence is disappearing,” said the Laguna Niguel dentist, lawyer and real-estate agent who is attempting to sue President Barack Obama out of office. “We have a number of parties that had evidence, that had knowledge that might be detrimental to the defense, that were found dead. . . . We have the most important, the most crucial witness. We have to be able to work something that they [the U.S. attorney representing Obama] can hear what he says, that you can hear what he says, that there is a record of it. . . . If, God forbid, something happens to this witness, at least we will have his testimony here.”
Carter didn’t oblige. After all, Taitz’s lawsuit against Obama hadn’t even reached the discovery stage, and the defense had been given no notice that she planned to call a witness that day. But Taitz ended up being right about one thing: Smith, who says he obtained Obama’s original birth certificate in Kenya, likely won’t get another chance to testify in Santa Ana. A week after the hearing, he says he has cut ties with Taitz because she asked him to lie under oath, making him the latest in a string of “birthers” to publicly criticize the woman who has become the face of the movement.
“I finally told her to forget it, we’ll part ways,” Smith told the Weekly on Sept. 16. “I definitely do not want anything to do with this dentist/wannabe movie star.”
Smith, 29, first appeared in the birther world in June as eBay user “colmado_naranja.” He was holding an auction for an artifact he claimed to have found: Obama’s original birth certificate from Mombasa, Kenya. After opening and closing the auction a few times, Smith in late August posted a video on YouTube showing himself surrounded by black children and holding the purported birth certificate. Right-wing news site World Net Daily—the organization that has sponsored “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” billboards across the country, including one in Buena Park—pounced on the story, reporting that Smith has a criminal record that includes forgery and an attempt to sell his kidney, and calling the certificate “not a valid document.”
In early September, Smith fired back at World Net Daily with a series of YouTube videos before filing a declaration with Taitz’s Barnett v. Obama lawsuit, vouching for the authenticity of the Mombasa birth certificate and saying he had obtained it by paying off a military officer in Kenya. Taitz paid for Smith’s plane ticket from the Dominican Republic, picked him up and brought him to court on Sept. 8, where he believed he would be given a chance to speak. A week later, though, Smith posted a message on his YouTube channel: “Im sorry everyone but, [sic] I cannot work with Orly Taitz any longer. She wants me to lie under oath.”
Smith isn’t the first in the Obama-conspiracy world to quarrel with Taitz. In May, Pennsylvania lawyer Phil Berg teamed up with his assistant, Taitz’s former webmaster and an online-talk-show host to sue Taitz for slander, harassment and privacy violations (see “Birth of an Obsession,” June 18). Buena Park pastor Wiley Drake and American Independent Party chairman Markham Robinson, after originally being represented by Taitz in their lawsuit against Obama, changed their attorney to San Diego lawyer Gary Kreep. He, in turn, has become a source of ridicule on Taitz’s website. At the Sept. 8 hearing, Carter said he would “force” the two attorneys to work together. “Your personal likes or dislikes or inability to work together isn’t a good reason for the court to allow separate lawsuits to proceed,” he said before asking Taitz and Kreep to move their chairs together.
That conflict ultimately led to the falling-out between Smith and Taitz, Smith says. Taitz supposedly asked Smith to testify in court that Kreep had approached him months ago to buy the Kenyan birth certificate from him, with an interest in preventing it from ever being filed in a lawsuit. Smith says she also asked him to vouch for the veracity of another Kenyan birth certificate that Taitz has filed as an exhibit in her lawsuit—the same certificate that won Taitz headlines around the world in August as quickly as it was debunked as a likely forgery.
“I’m not going to discredit my own story for her lawsuit,” Smith said. “Let’s not fight lies with lies.”
Smith’s accusations against Taitz came shortly after similar ones from Larry Sinclair, another key figure in the Obama conspiracy universe. In June 2008, Sinclair held a press conference at the National Press Club claiming he’d been lured into cocaine-fueled sex with Obama in a limo in 1999. He also has said he believes Obama had Donald Young, a Chicago choir conductor, killed. In an affidavit posted this month on Sinclair’s website, Sinclair says Taitz asked him to testify at her Sept. 8 hearing. He flew to Orange County from Florida, but the night before the hearing, Sinclair says, Taitz told him to testify he knew about three people who had been killed by Obama—a charge that Sinclair says isn’t true. The next day, he told her he wouldn’t testify and would be flying home.
Last week, a federal judge in Georgia threw out a suit Taitz had filed on behalf of Army flight surgeon Connie Rhodes, who disputed her orders to go to Iraq on the basis of her "birther" beliefs. Judge Clay Lands called the suit "frivolous" and threatened Taitz with sanctions if she brought more lawsuits to his court. When Taitz then filed an emergency request to block Rhodes’ deployment, Lands came back with a blistering seven-page order asking Taitz to show why she shouldn’t be fined $10,000. On the same day, Rhodes sent a letter to the court saying she had not authorized Taitz to fight Lands’ ruling and that she would be filing a California State Bar complaint against Taitz.
In Santa Ana, though, Carter has said that he hopes to eventually hear Taitz’s and Kreep’s lawsuit—representing scores of military officers, state representatives and former presidential candidates—on its merits. At the hearing, about a hundred spectators and plaintiffs showed up at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse, where Carter calmly indulged Taitz’s procedural missteps and set a tentative trial date for January 2010. A hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for Oct. 5.
Taitz wouldn’t speak to the Weekly for this story, other than to say that everything Smith had said was a lie—except the part about obtaining the Kenyan birth certificate. On her blog, though, she has lashed out at her detractors in the mainstream media, the judiciary and the birther movement. “Please don’t listen to vicious rumors,” she wrote on Sept. 16. “I am getting close to removing the usurper.”
Portions of this story first appeared on the Weekly’s news blog, Navel Gazing.