Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wiki Proposal

In the comments to my Abandonment post, Cathy Lou proposed that a Web page of all Episcopal litigation be created. I'm game to try. I've never set up a wiki before, but the scant reading I've done on it suggests that that might be the way to go. To get things rolling, I'm just going to list the Episcopal church lawsuits that I know of:

1. Rochester NY, currently in appeal
2. Pawley's Island, SC, currently being appealed
3. Peachtree City, GA. Decided. No appeal as yet.
4. San Diego, CA. Three suits, all on appeal.
5. Virginia. One consolidated suit, litigation pending.
6. Connecticut. No information
7. Pittsburgh, PA. I believe the trial is over. I don't know if it has been appealed.
8. Florida. I've heard rumours of litigation, but have no knowledge.
9. Savannah, GA. Suit has been filed. I have no other information.

If anyone has any information about these or other lawsuits, please post in the comments here or email me at mousestalker {at} (replace the '{at}' with '@').

Assuming all this can get fleshed out, I'll consolidate the information into a wiki so that everyone can contribute.

What inquiring minds would like to know is who are the parties, who are their attorneys, what is the status of the litigation, where is the suit being brought and how much is it costing everyone?


Anonymous said...

Found page on litigation in Diocese of Colorado that is still in progress.
Sorry, I couldn't dig deeper to see which parties have been added because our connection is slow right now.


Jeff H said...


Don't forget the CA suit involving the three former Diocese of Los Angeles parishes, consolidated and now under appeal in the California Supreme Court as Episcopal Church Cases. Assuming the link works, you can find case info on that matter here. There is also the suit involving St. Luke's of the Mountains in La Crescenta, CA, which is following in the wake of Episcopal Church Cases and will turn on the result.

As far as a wiki, I'm not sure about the wisdom of that approach. There are so many deep divisions on what the law is, what the law should be, and the factual disputes that are at the heart of each of these suits, that opening editorial power to anyone who wants to come by might just result in endless back-and-forth edit wars. It might be better (although more work) to have a central database with an option to e-mail the administrator with additional info or corrections.

Anonymous said...


The "CT-6" had a federal lawsuit going against the Bishop and Diocese for the rape of St. John's Bristol (er, sorry -- "common law remedy of seizure of property") and theft ("conversion of assets") from 3 other parishes because the Diocese would not release investment funds held in trust. Connecticut also has funky laws that codify TEC's Constitution and Canons as state law, so our suit had an establishment clause component to it.

That suit got rejected by the federal court for jurisdiction. We were in the middle of an appeal, but we stopped after the Primates said "no more lawsuits" at Dar Es Salaam. We had plans for filing the suit in state courts, but also stopped that after Dar.

I know the Diocese and 815 are suing Trinity, Bristol, because they went to CANA and took the parish property with them. I've heard hearsay that some folks at Trinity would now like to walk away without the property, but the Diocese refuses to let them out without their pound of flesh.

Matthew said...

Thanks for the info!

I'm aggregating all of it here for now.

As for the wiki format, I'm not tied to it. I have a sandbox wiki already set up for me to play with. It allows three levels of posting privileges.

I must admit that part of the attraction of the wiki format for me is the ability to see who has made what changes.

Anonymous said...

Connecticut update (same poster as #3).

Hartford Courant Article. If the URL doesn't come through, search Google News for "Church Faces A Hard Road After Split".

Nevin said...

There never was a trial in Pittsburgh. The original Complaint in Equity was filed October 2003. In short, the purpose of the lawsuit was to prevent Bishop Duncan from allowing any parish to leave with their property or assests. In October 2005 a settlement was reached without trial. The Stipulation basically produced a procedure by which parishes could leave the Diocese of Pittsburgh, possibly with their property although that was still open to lawsuits if mediation did not produce a result. In December 2006 Rev Lewis filed a new petition asking for enforcement of the Settlement, claiming that Bishop Duncan was in violation by trying to take the entire Diocese out of TEC. He specifically asked that Bishop Duncan and the Standing Committee be replaced by a court appointed Trustee! There was a flurry of legal action in early 2007 but there have been no filings or motions since July 2007 and a trial date has not been set. I honestly have no idea what is going on right now.

Matthew said...

Stand Firm has linked to an article about some imminent litigation concerning St Johns Petaluma in California.

Not a lawyer myself said...

You've suggested:

“What inquiring minds would like to know is who are the parties, who are their attorneys, what is the status of the litigation, where is the suit being brought and how much is it costing everyone?”

May I add another level of difficulty? For each case, it would be very helpful to flesh out 1) what is at stake for both parties; 2) what implications the outcome might have for others in the same state or diocese; 3) what impact this case might have on others nationally. In other words, might/does/did this case set a precedent at the local or national level which might help or hurt other cases? Such analysis is a big and ongoing job, but it will give this wiki significant value. Nothing like this struggle ever has happened before; both church and state are groping for answers where none have been spelled out, and the ramifications are enormous. To take one example, one of these cases may establish the Dennis Canon – or blow it away. Cogent analysis here and now will provide a lasting resource for ourselves and others.


Anonymous said...

Aren't there ongoing lawsuits in LA?

Matthew said...

Yes, they are consolidated and under appeal.

Jeff H said...


If you wanted to, you could probably update the original post with the info from the comments. That would at least be a preliminary compilation of the assembled info.

Just a thought. Thanks for getting this rolling!

Matthew said...


I think thats where this will wind up for now. I'm getting slammed at work, so my time's limited for the moment.

Anonymous said...

More from Connecticut

Matthew said...

NW Texas. Post here that mentions ongoing litigation between the diocese and church of the good shepherd.

"Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church is pursuing property lawsuits in cases where churches attempt to leave. One of those lawsuits was filed in the fall by Bishop Wallace Ohl in the Northwest Texas Diocese to keep the property of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in San Angelo from a group that has left the Episcopal Church."

Matthew said...

More from NW Texas. Here's a link to the case abstract.

Matthew said...

Link to video interview about the California cases.

Matthew said...

St. Johns Petaluma. Background info here.