From the Editors desk
In October 1965, a voice spoke to a Jewish atheist in New York
and said: "This is a course in miracles; please take notes." Thus began
Helen Schucman’s long journey of transcribing Jesus' A
Course In Miracles.
This week in
New York began the long-awaited court case to decide the fate of
the copyright claim on Jesus’ Course In Miracles. The Foundation
for Inner Peace and the Foundation of A Course In Miracles are
suing the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor claiming that the
church has infringed copyright.
Church is arguing that the Foundation had put the Course into the
public domain by freely giving away hundreds of copies before
copyright was established.
On Monday, Judy Skutch Whitson, a key figure in the two
Foundations, took the stand and recanted her previous recorded
statements about the distribution of the original Course in
She also said that
many copies had been distributed in a ‘copyrighted’ form referred to as “the
The Foundation wanted tapes
that indicated Judy Skutch had given away hundreds of copies of A Course In
Miracles before the date of copyright to be ruled out of evidence.
The judge said he would permit the tapes to be considered, but it is unclear as
to what weight will be given them.
‘Bob was wrong’
About twenty members of the New Christian Church were present in the courtroom
as she explained that her former husband, Robert Skutch, had been mistaken in
his book, Journey without Distance. There is a reference in the book to hundreds
of copies of A Course In Miracles being given away freely. Judy Skutch Whitson
claimed that she hadn’t read the book while her husband of the time was writing
it and hadn’t known that the story was included.
'Bob was wrong,' Judy said.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs then asked why the story had been removed in the
next edition of the book and said she had been advised by her attorney to take
it out. He was not her attorney any more, she said.
‘I’m a story teller’
Her lawyer read from a tape transcript where Judy Skutch had said she was so
excited by the material that she photocopied copies for her friends and they
took copies of those copies for their friends. The text was copied so many times
that some of the words were barely legible. At this point in her testimony, Judy
Skutch said she had not been correct in her own tapes and that she had
embellished the truth. That’s just the way I am. I’m a storyteller, she said.
Her lawyer then asked her
about the hundreds and hundreds of lectures she had given on the subject. Judy
Skutch said that she told the story so many times that when someone asked for
it, she asked: Which version do you want me to tell you? She said that she liked
to amuse her audiences.
Finally, her lawyer asked
Judy Skutch what had attracted her to the Course in Miracles and she said:
'It meant so much to me because it deals with honesty, forgiveness and being
forthright.' And the lawyer asked her: Well, how do we know that you’re telling
the truth now? Judy Skutch intimated that she was telling the truth now because
that is what the Course is about.
The Foundation For Inner Peace and The Foundation for A
Course in Miracles v. New Christian Church of Full Endeavor, Ltd.
Day One of the trial: Monday, May 19, 2003
No opening statements. Judge Sweet pictured right, said he was familiar with the case, and
the familiarity was painful.
The case is expected to be over on Thursday.
The first witness was Orlando Gattilo, who works for a New York city audio
lab in forensic testing. He performed a series of tests on the tapes
provided by the defendant, New Christian Church of Full Endeavor.
The Church had put the tapes into evidence as tapes of Judy Skutch talking
about A Course In Miracles, and matters relevant to the copyright issue.
Previously Judy Skutch had denied that it was her voice on the tapes, which are said
to fall into two types: tapes relating to meetings of the Association of
Research on Enlightenment and what are known as "the Mazza tapes".
Bill, Helen, Judy, and Ken.
Mr Gattilo concluded that there had been no tampering on the tapes,
sections of tapes, he had been given to test.
In cross-examination: another audio labs expert was called and he didn't
think that anything in the tapes was admissible. The judge reminded him
that this was a civil suit, and not a police case. The ARE tapes are duplicates. The Mazza tapes are the original
The judge will permit the excerpts of the tapes to be considered. He did not
exclude the tapes as evidence, but it is unclear as to what weight will be
Judy Skutch was called as a witness, and she told the story about her
meeting with Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford.
Her testimony continued to the point where Judy Skutch was saying that
Jesus needed copyright of A Course In Miracles. At that point, according
to Judy Skutch, Jerry Jampolsky had two copies of the Course, Judy Skutch
had two copies, and a Mr Bolen had one copy.
In the afternoon,
Judy Skutch continued her testimony. Judy gave a Dr
Mitchell 50 pages of the original manuscript, in 8½’ x 11’ size pages.
Only three copies of the Course had been given early in July 1975.
Judy Skutch gave one copy to Eleanor Criswell of Free Person Press and
asked her to make a hundred copies of the Course which appeared in a reduced-size format,
referred to in the trial as “the Criswell edition”. Before giving this
copy to Eleanor Criswell, Judy is certain that no copies were made.
Bill & Helen
Then a group of them, Helen and her husband, Judy and Bill, took a trip to
San Francisco. Judy entered into
evidence an electric bill for their stay which is dated August 18th 1975.
She said they stayed in a suite from July 23rd to August 25th. Judy wanted to
introduce Helen and Bill to “a bunch of people,” which ended up being
thirty to forty people. No one there received a copy, she claimed. She just simply had
Helen and Bill tell their story. The Course was not read aloud at the
After the meeting in San Francisco, they took a trip south to meet Russell
Tard of the Stanford Research Institute and David Hurt, an engineer. Judy
claimed not to have given away any copies in full. She gave David Hurt a
third of an inch of the Course material, she said, putting her fingers in
the air to indicate the width.
At that time, she was carting around seven binders of the Course in the
original 8½’ x 11’ format. On August 27th 1975, Eleanor Criswell had
finished the production of the manuscript into a smaller size. Judy took some of
the copies back to New York and left some in San Francisco.
The first set of a hundred copies of the Criswell edition had a yellow
cover jacket. The second hundred had a white cover, and the third set had
a blue cover.
Inside the Criswell edition, there is a copyright stamp of 1975, Judy
Skutch said. The first hundred went to people in California, on August
25th and 26th. The text of the Criswell edition was exactly the same as
the original, she said.
Judy Skutch pictured left, has four pages of notes as to who and where ‘the copyrighted
material’ was sent. The first 22 or 23 went in San Francisco, and the 24th
in Ohio. The eighth copy went to Jim Hickman. Jim Hickman also received
some portion of the 8½’ x 11’ formatted copy, but not the whole thing.
Number 36 went to Mr. Janis; by that time, she was back in New York.
On July 15th 1999, Judy Skutch signed an affidavit stating that the
Criswell edition had come out on October 6th 1975. In her testimony at the
trial on Monday, Judy Skutch changed the information given on the 1999
affidavit. She is now saying that the Criswell edition came out in
August and not October; and the evidence for this is the electric bill she
had discovered putting her in San Francisco in August.
The Criswell edition was registered for copyright on October 6th by Bob
Skutch, who was Judy’s husband at the time.
Joe Janis, number 41 on the list, received a copy of the Criswell edition
in September 1975 and she said she possibly gave him some of the 8½’ x 11’
format. Copies number 102 and 103 were given to Bob Skutch for him to send
to the Copyright Office. She sent Reed Erickson, number 105, a copy.
Paul Steinberg, number 123, got a copyrighted copy, and a copy of the 8½’
x 11’ format to borrow for a week. She said, under sworn testimony, that
he gave it back within a week.
By November 1975, she had given out 125 copies of the yellow edition
(there were more than a hundred of the yellow copies as extras had been
made to allow for errors), and 94 of the white ones. Number 9 of the white
one was given to Osmond Crosby.
In late October 1975, number 39 was given to Jim Hickman; number 41 to David Hurt
and he sent $100 for two more copies; number 94 to Reed Erickson (two copies and
he gives $100); and number 57 to Zelda Zuply (one copy).
Then one hundred blue copies were run off. Number 40 went to “the holy
three,” Helen Schucman, Bill Thetford and Ken Wapnick. Number 35 and 36 went to Paul and Saul
Steinberg. She handed out blue copies until early 1976.
The plaintiff’s lawyer read her a quote from the Santa Fe transcript, a
transcript provided by the New Christian Church where Judy Skutch said she
had distributed hundreds and hundreds of copies. Judith Skutch said that
she was referring to “the Criswell edition” (and not to Xeroxed copies).
On February 14th 1976, they decided to publish A Course In Miracles. Helen was embarrassed with
the name, Foundation for Paranormal Studies, and she made them change their
name (it is now Foundation for Inner Peace). At that point, Reed Erickson called
from Mexico about publishing the Course in hardback and sent the Foundation $40,000 to $50,000 to publish
it. It was typeset by Saul Steinberg. Judy testified that some of the 8½’
x 11’ format copies were given to Zelda Duprey and Saul Steinberg for
proofreading and to a guy named Doug Dean.
On June 22nd 1976, a final hardcopy was published with copyright
registered inside. The plaintiff’s lawyer asked isn’t it correct that
FACIM now holds the copyright. Judith Skutch said that yes, FACIM now
holds the copyright and FIP publishes the course in three formats: three
volumes in one softbound; three in one hardbound; and a three-volume hardcover.
The plaintiff’s lawyer brought up the issue of Journey without Distance,
the book written by Bob Skutch who was at the time of publication Judy’s
husband. In Journey without Distance, there is a reference to
hundreds of copies being given away. “Bob was wrong,” Judy said. She
claimed that she hadn’t read the book while he was writing it and didn’t
know the story was in it.
She was asked about why the story had been removed in the next edition of
the book and said she had been advised by her attorney to take it out; and
he was not her attorney any more.
The lawyer asked about the “Story of A Course In Miracles” where she
had again said that hundreds and hundreds of copies were not given away.
Judith Skutch said that she was referring to "the Criswell edition".
Her lawyer read from a tape transcript where she said she was so excited
by the material that she photocopied copies for her friends and they took
copies of those copies for their friends; and the text was copied so many
times that some of the words were barely legible. At this point in her
testimony, Judy Skutch said she had not been correct in her own tapes and
that she had embellished the truth. “That’s just the way I am. I’m a
storyteller,” she said.
Her lawyer then asked her about the hundreds and hundreds of lectures she
had given on the subject. Judy Skutch said that she told the story so many
times that when someone asked for it, she asked: Which version do you want
me to tell you? She said that she liked to amuse her audiences.
Finally, her lawyer asked Judy Skutch what had attracted her to the Course
in Miracles and she said: “It meant so much to me because it deals with
honesty, forgiveness and being forthright.” And the lawyer asked her:
Well, how do we know that you’re telling the truth now? Judy Skutch
intimated that she was telling the truth now because that is what the
Course is about.
End of day 1.