CAUS Commentary


By Peter A. Gersten, Esq.

Only at the International UFO Congress' semi-annual convention in 2000 could an incredible story receive several standing ovations and be verified by "experts" in the unverifiable fields of "reverse speech" and "remote viewing." The story, of striking and killing a humanoid creature with a piece of wood in the forests of the state of Washington in 1996, was being told by Jonathan Reed to an audience of over 600 UFO enthusiasts, including myself. I sat there in amazement, not only due to the fantastic nature of his story, but also because, for most of the people at the River Palm Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, on March 9th, the old adage that incredible claims require credible proof, was quickly discarded in favor of the unquestioned acceptance of a story that defied logic and common sense. As I listened to Reed, memories of my days as a trial attorney flashed through my mind. At that particular moment, I wanted nothing more in life than to have the opportunity to cross-examine him.

In any trial whether it be civil or criminal, the cross-examination of each witness is a fundamental right afforded both sides since it is the most useful tool to assist a jury in determining a witness' credibility. In criminal cases, the right to cross-examine a witness who testifies against a defendant is so fundamental that it is guaranteed by the 6th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

While practicing law in New York City for 25 years, first as a prosecutor and then as a defense attorney, I specialized and participated in over 100 trials. I would discuss with juries in closing arguments (summation) that any stranger can walk into a courtroom, take the witness stand, swear to tell the truth, and lie for whatever period of time (s)he is testifying. It's not that difficult to lie, even while under oath. Some people do it better than others. So how can you tell if a complete stranger, who you only see for maybe 1-2 hours, is telling you the truth? Hopefully, by the skill of the opposing attorney in cross-examining the witness.

Usually before a witness is cross-examined, the opposing attorney has completed a thorough investigation into the background of the witness; has analyzed all prior statements made by the witness concerning the subject matter; obtained all relevant medical, police and scientific reports; and has interviewed other witnesses as well as the friends, neighbors and business associates of the witness. Thus, the attorney is fully prepared to show any lies, mistakes, errors and inconsistencies in the witness' trial testimony prior to asking a single question.

So let me use Jonathan Reed as an example. Let's assume that I had the opportunity to cross-examine him after his presentation. Because of space constraints, my cross-examination will be summarized rather than in a "Q & A" format.

I would spend the first part of my cross-examination exploring his background: occupation, employment history, education, degrees, present and previous residences; criminal convictions (arrests are not admissible), marital status, military record, drug and alcohol use as well as any other information obtained through a background check using his date of birth and social security number.

Next I would question him about his interest and involvement with UFOs and related subjects. Did he have any prior experiences? Did he have any interest in the subject? If so, what was that interest? I would also be interested in learning about his views concerning law enforcement and our government.

The next area of cross-examination would involve his story. I would bring out any inconsistencies between what he had said on prior occasions, specifically the Art Bell shows that he appeared on, and what he is saying now at the conference. But the majority of my questioning would focus on his statements at the conference in order to show his lack of credibility. A sample of the areas my questioning would focus on are:

1. Events prior to encounter. How long trip planned? How long in forest? How far traveled? Ever been there before? Equipment and supplies taken. Equipment and supplies not taken.

2. Events during encounter:

a. the creature: events and circumstances involving his encounter, his dog, his attack, his incapacity and his recovery. His initial actions and activities regarding the body: Why didn't he find a place to leave it behind? Why did he take it back home with him?

b. the obelisk: events and circumstances of this experience. According to Reed, the obelisk was suspended between dimensions. Conveniently it had not been photographed up close. Interesting that there were many photos and even a video presented...but all taken from a afar;

c. the artifact: events and circumstance of the discovery, possession and concealment of the alien artifact referred to as "The Link." The "Link," was the name given to the alien artifact that was found by Reed at the scene of the alien attack. It still existed but was now safely hidden where the evil empire could not find it.;

3. Events subsequent to encounter:

a. Why didn't he initially report the incident to the authorities? If someone breaks into your house and you shoot the person, you don't take the time to video the intruder's body, you call the authorities. Interesting how one of the first things Reed did when arriving back at his apartment was to videotape the creature, as if he knew it would not be available for future examination;

b. Details of the nine days the creature was in his home;

4. Alleged criminal activities: The events and circumstances surrounding the burglary of his apartment, the attack of his friend, the death of another friend and his own shooting. Were these events reported to the police? If not, why not? Prior to cross-examination I would have obtained the police reports and/or medical reports...or know if there weren't any. Were the police and medical reports consistent with his story?;

5. Videos and Photographs: Circumstances surrounding each. All such evidence would also be subject to expert analysis to determine genuineness of content and possible alteration;

5. His activities since the creature's disappearance including his statements about the "Alliance." Reed continually referred to an underground support group, the "Alliance" which, of course, could not be discussed at the presentation for fear of reprisals. Interesting that their identities were not compromised by the gratuitous acknowledgement of their existence;

10. His demeanor while telling his story: It was obvious that he was intentionally playing to the crowd and many in the audience were eagerly accepting his story, to the degree of continuous applause and standing ovations, as if on cue. Reed, while describing his experiences, would alternate between various emotions...tears, anger, indignation, and laughter; and

11. Any discussions and/or agreements for a movie or TV series. His story had all the elements of a pilot for a prospective TV series, "The Link" involving the search for the alien artifact by both the evil empire, the good guys and the ETs who misplaced it.

12. Why he decided to appear on Art Bell's radio program instead of a program like 60 minutes? Had he thought of hiring an attorney and calling a press conference when the "Link" was still in his possession? Didn't he consider it a "smoking gun?"

The above examples are presented to give the reader an idea of the scope of questions that should be asked and answered before anyone should accept Reed's story as truthful. Assuming you were a juror in a trial in which Reed was the defendant, accused of fraud, and you had to determine the truthfulness of his story...wouldn't you want to hear both sides to explore all the issues? Wouldn't you want all the facts before you decided? Why should ufology be any different. Actually, shouldn't it be held to a higher standard because its past history of false claims?


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