Some Cases Boggle the Mind

Some cases boggle the mind and defy description. You need a skilled attorney to listen to your story and ascertain whether you have actionable legal claims.

That’s how Brendan’s father, Mel B. O’Reilly, in 2003 came to represent a woman named Maura Schmierer, who in the 1980s was a member of a California religious cult called “The Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps,” which employed a militaristic, corrupt Christian ideology to promote hatred of homosexuals, minorities, and non-Christians throughout the United States. By 2003 the cult had moved several times and settled on a large ranch in western New Mexico.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups, for several years, rated the cult as the only hate group operating in New Mexico.

Ms. Schmierer, a resident of Sacramento, California, came to Mel because when it was based in California the cult had falsely imprisoned her as punishment, which laid the groundwork for her post-escape legal claims that yielded a $1 million California judgment against the cult.

So… Why did she need Mel? And what does this have to do with Brendan, anyway?

Good questions.

The problem Ms. Schmierer had is that she won the lawsuit against the cult in 1989 and the cult stiffed her, never paid the full damages awarded to her by the California trial court. Then the cult moved repeatedly, changed its name, committed fraud against Ms. Schmierer, held itself out as a tribal entity, and finally settled in Fence Lake, New Mexico, about 60 miles from Grants, New Mexico. The cult paid more than $400,000 cash for about 7,000 acres of ranch land where it intended to build its “holy nation.” The cult’s members ran a commercial bakery in a compound the cult erected and peddled bread to restaurants and from door-to-door throughout New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. Disturbingly, evidence came out that the ingredients were obtained from dumpster dives into the waste from the restaurants to which the cult sold the bread.

Oh, and the cult kidnapped a child from off the street in Uganda, smuggled her to the United States, performed veritable medical experiments on her, sexually abused her, and denied her medical care.

So …

Where were we.

Oh yes. Ms. Schmierer’s claims in New Mexico.

Ms. Schmierer had to assert a claim in New Mexico’s courts under the federal Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause to get New Mexico to honor and enforce the 1989 judgment that by 2003 had accrued enough interest to make the claim in New Mexico worth more than $1 million.

Mel litigated that case for 9 years and then hired Brendan as an associate. Father and Son tried the case together in 2012. And then they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, in 2015, the trial court issued its judgment.

Ms. Schmierer LOST!!

So Mel and Brendan engaged one of New Mexico’s most-respected appellate attorneys, Alice Lorenz, and helped her litigate an appeal.

Then they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, in August 2019 the New Mexico Court of Appeals entered its decision.


The judgment by then had swelled to more than $4 million with interest.

But the Cult appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which refused to reconsider the Appellate Court’s decision. So for the next 16 months Mel, Brendan, and Alice went after the cult’s sizable land holdings in Fence Lake and obtained Court approval to liquidate the sizeable ranch holdings to gross more than $2.8 million for Ms. Schmierer.

And they haven’t given up yet. The cult had such a history of fraud that it very likely has more assets out there.

You can read more about this wacky case here and here.