10/06/2009

Supremes nix Los Angeles leavers, Pittsburgh Judge likewise those who left.

It has been a busy two days in Episcopal Land and the world of legal doings. On Monday the Supreme Court determined not to take up a review of the judgment of the Supreme Court of California in favor of the Diocese of Los Angeles against those who had left two parishes and claimed the property for their own. See the ENS article "LOS ANGELES: U.S. Supreme Court declines to review California property decision," HERE.

Late afternoon today, Tuesday, a judge in Pittsburgh ruled in favor of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and against the break-away group that also contends that it is the Diocese of Pittsburgh. See the ENS article
"PITTSBURGH: Judge says diocesan property belongs to the Episcopal Church's Diocese of Pittsburgh" HERE.

There will be considerable efforts for various legal hounds to chase their own tails here, and it may go on for some time, but the facts on the ground right now seem to support the rights of Dioceses of the Episcopal Church to maintain control of property when a large portion of a congregation leaves the Church.

It is beginning to look as if the South Carolina Pawley's Island case is an exception.

5 comments:

  1. Given the following:http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/news_reports/the_situation_in_pittsburgh.html from Joan Gunderson circa June 6, 2008

    “Please note that Bishop Duncan has assured himself of a comfortable transition. He has built a retirement house on land owned by the diocese and he and his wife have been deeded (as of November 2007) a life interest estate (to the longest lived survivor) in that house. The diocese also loaned Bishop Duncan the money to build that house (terms not in the public record.) In addition we understand that he AND Bishop Scriven have signed consultant contracts with the diocese for two years at full pay which will go into effect SHOULD BISHOP DUNCAN BE DEPOSED.” I am wondering, is the land in question near or on the Donegal Lake Common Property that Bishop Duncan had worked so hard to acquire and improve? See: http://www.pitanglican.org/news/local/donegal. If so, is his property alleged to be owned and the loan something for the the consideration of the Judge James? Was this done in anticipation of the expected deposition, and attempted secession? What are the legal ramifications? I have not been able to verify Gunderson's original source for the terms of the alleged agreement. EmilyH

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  2. The "money quote" from the Pittsburgh decision as I see it is this: "The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America did not cease to exist when the defendants chose to withdraw. The defendants [Duncan and his followers] could not extinguish an entity [the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh] that was created and recognized by the intervenors [The Episcopal Church]."

    So much for Mark McCall's speculations.

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  3. I'd caution against a sweeping generalization. From what I've seen of the cases so far, at least in SC and Pittsburgh, the decisions depend highly on the facts of the individual cases, particularly prior actions by the dioceses, and not so much on the proposition that the Episcopal Church owns the property (as I understand was the case in the California case).

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  4. I'm sorry. I'm sure I'm one of the few people - and there are more than just a few of us - for whom this is just flat out sad.

    I don't care who wins or loses. When the history of this time is written and historians on both sides opine their views, ad nauseum, there will still be blackened eyes all around.

    Yes, we're right and they're wrong. Justice is being served, rightly. It's still just flat out sad.

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  5. Elizabeth, as usual you are right. It is just flat out sad.

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