Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Kevin Trudeau criminal contempt trial: off to a cheesy start?

Note: For background on Kevin Trudeau's criminal contempt trial (and a little bit of background about the civil trial), and links to important court documents, please see this blog post, which was originally published on Sunday, November 3 and was updated on November 4 and 5.

In order to keep any one post from getting too long and unwieldy, I'm opting for a series of shorter posts. For those of you who are on Facebook, I have also been sharing these documents on the publicly viewable forum,
GIN Network Truth.

Well, serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's criminal trial finally got underway on Tuesday, November 5 (it took all day Monday, November 4 and part of Tuesday to assemble the jury). While the transcripts and complete documentation are not yet available on PACER.gov, a few docs were filed on November 4 and 5. For instance, there's Document number 136, an actual order from trial judge Ronald A. Guzman. This one makes things look not so good at the moment for Kevin. Apparently Judge Guzman is leaning towards disallowing the Natural Cures book and infomercial to be admitted into evidence. For several reasons, Trudeau's lawyers had requested that these be admissible.

Yet at the end of the order Judge Guzman seems to leave it open. So if I am reading this order correctly, it seems that he is inclined to disagree with Katie's lawyers about the relevance of the evidence, but he is implying that he MAY still allow it at some point if he can be convinced that it is relevant.
Here is a link to the document, which summarizes the reasons Katie's lawyers wanted NC to be admissible, and the reasons Judge Guzman seems to be disagreeing for the most part. Maybe you can figure out what the order is really saying.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media have finally started reporting on this trial too -- at least the Chicago media (though the story also caught the attention of Reuters). For instance, there's this on the Chicago Sun-Times.com site. The piece briefly summarizes the opening arguments, noting that prosecutor Marc Krickbaum flatly states that Trudeau "lied -- he chose to make his book sound way better than it was, and he did that for one reason: to sell more books." (By the way, just as a reminder: At issue in the case is whether or not Trudeau lied in his infomercial about the contents of the book -- not about whether he lied in the book about how easy the weight-loss diet was or about anything else.)

One of Trudeau's attorneys had a rather...um... cheesy comeback to Krickbaum's opening, according to the news story.

But defending Trudeau, attorney Thomas Kirsch said the claims Trudeau made in the ads were legitimate “statements of opinion” that were repeated in the book.
He accused the government of confusing required parts of Trudeau’s plan with optional steps, and said the ads included disclaimers and a money-back guarantee, agreeing that whether the plan worked was irrelevant.
“In America, we can write whatever we want in a book,” he said, adding, “if [Trudeau] wanted to write a book saying the moon was made of cheese, he could do that.”
Really, Thomas Kirsch? You're resorting to that old saw about the moon and cheese? In your opening arguments?!? That argument stinks like Pont l’Eveque, and it's deja pee-yew all over again. As a matter of fact the cheesy-moon argument was my opening quotation in my first big blog post about GIN (though not my first one about Katie), back in December 2009. I was quoting Kevin's statement, as reported by a blogger named Mitch Lipka. Said Kevin, back then:
"I have free rein. I can sell whatever I want because I'm protected by the First Amendment. I can sell a book that says the moon is made of cheese, and it should be protected by the First Amendment."
Apart from the point that commercial speech does not enjoy the same First Amendment protections as regular speech -- and false or misleading commercial speech has pretty much zero protection -- the whole moon-and-cheese example seems like a dreadfully weak argument and actually kinda makes Kevin look worse. People who are searching for serious advice about something as important as weight loss and health shouldn't have to sort through lies and half truths and silly opinions. Maybe Kirsch's statement was taken out of context, but I don't think it should have been there in the first place, for Kirsch basically seems to be saying that his client is prolly a liar and his book is prolly a lie, but the First Amendment protects all of those lies.

Moreover, it appears that Kirsch was wrong about the government confusing the "required" and the "optional" part of what really seems to be a convoluted diet regimen, and is far from a "cure." Even if you take away the "optional" parts of Kevin's version of the hCG diet, it still seems like it's anything but "easy."
Here is the permalink to a discussion, on the above-mentioned GIN Network Truth group, in which my friend Julie Daniel patiently explains the FTC's case, quoting directly from various documents and from Kevin's actual book, The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You To Know About.
The first infomercial about which the FTC complains was produced on or around December 23, 2006 and was followed by two other infomercials in January and July of 2007. In these infomercials, Mr. Trudeau is "interviewed" about the Weight Loss Book, as well as several other items that he is promoting. The FTC's motion for rule to show cause focuses on repeated references in the infomercials to the purported fact that the diet described in the Weight Loss Book is "easy," and that consumers will be able to eat whatever they want after completing the four-phase program. Throughout Mr. Trudeau's infomercials, he repeatedly states that the diet is "Very easy to do ... you don't have to go to a clinic to do it. You can do it at home.... I can attest, it was the easiest, simplest, most effective thing I've ever done.... The diet was `the easiest method known on planet Earth.'"

Mr. Trudeau also repeats throughout the infomercials that after the four phase protocol is completed, "you're done with the protocol, eat whatever you want and you don't gain the weight back." Referring to his own experience after purportedly having taken the "cure," Mr. Trudeau states in a dialog with the supposed interviewer, "I've been off the program now ... guess what I can eat? Anything." [Interviewer] "Nothing is restricted?" [Mr. Trudeau] "Oh, let's see, I had mashed potatoes and gravy, the mashed potatoes were real mashed potatoes loaded with cream and butter, gravy loaded with fat. I had a big prime rib marbled with fat. For dessert I had a big hot fudge sundae with real ice cream, real hot fudge, real nuts and real whipped cream." He further states that "you'll keep the weight off forever. You'll never have to diet again."
And there's this, from the Appendix of the book:
Things you MUST do:
  • Take ThreeLac as directed
  • Drink one-half to one gallon of pure water with coral calcium daily
  • Drink Wu Long tea as directed
  • Walk one hour each day outside
  • Do colonics as directed
  • Eat two organic apples per day
  • Eat organic grapefruits
  • Eat breakfast
  • Eat six times per day
  • Finish dinner three and one-half hours before bed
  • Do a colon cleanse
  • Take organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • Drink organic raw apple cider vinegar Take Eleotin as directed
  • Use Callahan techniques as needed
  • Eat a salad with lunch and dinner
  • Take probiotics daily
  • Take krill oil (Omega-3s) daily
  • Take a whole food supplement daily
  • Drink Yerba Mate tea daily
  • Drink chamomile tea daily
  • Take saunas as often as possible
  • Take Acetyl-L Carnitine daily
  • Take digestive enzymes with meals
  • Look at and repeat the phrase "I weigh ___," using your ideal weight and look at pictures of you with your ideal body many times throughout the day
  • Use stevia, organic agave nectar, organic raw honey, or organic raw sugarcane for sweeteners
  • Get personalized individual care from a licensed healthcare practitioner who does not use drugs and surgery
And that's just for Phase 1 of the diet; there's are long obsessive lists of stuff you must and must not do during subsequent phases. As noted, Julie patiently copied and pasted all of it into the forum discussion mentioned above.

As discussed above, Mr. Trudeau has violated this court's order. He has misrepresented the content of his book by stating in his infomercials that his diet protocol was "easy" and that it allowed dieters to "eat whatever they want," and he has misled thousands of consumers. For these reasons, the court holds Mr. Trudeau in contempt. By separate order, the court will set a hearing to determine the appropriate remedy in light of this opinion.
Overall I think the prosecution has a pretty strong case. But as I've said before, I don't agree with the potential punishment should Katie be found guilty. I don't think he belongs in a cage for fifteen or eighteen years or for life. Even so, and contrary to what some die-hard Trudeau supporters are saying, this case is not, not, NOT simply about the government stomping on Trudeau's poor little oppressed, repressed head for saying that a diet is easy.

Needless to say, I was not in the court room and haven't seen a transcript of the proceedings -- so again, I don't know the entire context of those opening statements. But right now, it appears to me that Team Trudeau is not off to a strong start. Perhaps their secret weapon is the new lawyer on board,
Carolyn Pelling Gurland. Surely Ms. Gurland will be able to come up with something better than that old cheesy-moon argument.

More Chicago news media coverage of the Kevin Trudeau criminal contempt trial:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, I've been reading your blog regularly for about 9 months and I'm a big fan.
You're a really great writer.
I really appreciate the depth of research, the objectivity (where it counts), and the generous peppering of righteous 'snark' -as you put it. It always makes for an informative and amusing read.

I do have a two part question I'd like to ask you.
I've listened to lots of Trudeau's 'audios' (provided by a friend who keeps trying to convince me to join GIN). It's obvious to me that Trudeau represents a significant and ongoing danger to gullible and/or stupid and/or desperate people.
So what i want to ask is this.
You've mentioned on several occasions that you don't think he should do significant jail time.

Why do you think a significant jail term isn't a suitable punishment for Trudeau?

What do you think would be a suitable punishment?

Saturday, November 09, 2013 5:42:00 PM  

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