The main body of the trial will resume on April 22 in the same courtroom, and before the same judge. Plaintiffs will call the remainder of their witnesses, and then the defendants and counterclaimants will call theirs -- chiefly Bishops Buchanan and Franklin of ECUSA, and Dr. Robert Bruce Mullin, who is ECUSA's primary (and well-compensated) expert historian witness. (The latest information indicates that his total compensation for all the cases in which he has offered testimony on ECUSA's behalf is now in excess of $1 million.)
Diocesan Chancellor Tad Brenner, and his co-counsel Kent Schnack, both of Quincy, gave opening statements on behalf of their clients. (Mr. Brenner represents Bishop Alberto Morales of the Diocese of Quincy, whom ECUSA and its rump diocese sued as counterclaimants.) David Booth Beers gave the opening statement on behalf of ECUSA and the counterclaimants. Mary Kostel, the Presiding Bishop's special assistant counsel for litigation, cross-examined Dr. Bonner, while your Curmudgeon and Tad Brenner handled his direct and re-direct examination.
At issue in this first phase of the trial was the nature of the organization that is ECUSA, and whether anything in its polity, governing documents or structure prohibits a diocese from withdrawing its affiliation. Dr. Bonner testified for his first time as an expert witness, as well as for his first time ever in any court.
Because the court thus far has heard only Dr. Bonner's views, there is no basis as yet on which to make any predictions about outcome. Nevertheless, the following extract from the concluding portion of his direct examination will serve to indicate the substance of Dr. Bonner's principal opinions (this is the only portion for which a transcript is as yet available):
Q. You've also testified that a number of dioceses -- I believe 25 of them -- continue as full members of ECUSA despite not having appropriate accession clauses in their constitutions. Has General Convention ever tried to do anything about that situation?And that's it, for now -- watch for further updates as the trial continues after next week.
A. Again, not that I've seen.
Q. What could it do, if it wanted?
A. It's debatable what it could do under the current non-supremacist arrangements.
Q. Did a recent incident happen with regard to the trial of a bishop where they tried to compel production of documents from a diocese?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. Did that diocese refuse?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. What were they -- What was the court able to do with regard to compelling production of those documents?
A. The court said that the Diocese of Los Angeles was an autonomous body and that they could not compel them to provide information, or words to that effect. ...
Q. So, Dr. Bonner, based on your research and the facts to which you've testified here, how you would characterize then the organization known as ECUSA?
A. An extremely decentralized association of state churches, for want of a better word.
Q. Or dioceses?
A. Or dioceses. I don't like that word even though it's the correct pronunciation.
Q. In your opinion, is the organization itself greater than any of its constituent parts?
A. No, not in the absence of a supremacy clause.
Q. What are the closest models to its form of organization in your opinion?
A. Again, we alluded to them earlier, but the situation -- the political situation under the Articles of Confederation is the most obvious example. The Anglican Consultative Council and the United Nations are [also] analogous but perhaps less obvious.
Q. Does the constitution of ECUSA represent, in your opinion, a form of agreement among its member dioceses?
Q. Its fifth article governs how additional members will be allowed to join in that agreement?
A. It does.
Q. Is there any article or part of the same constitution which addresses the power of the diocese once admitted into ECUSA to withdraw from ECUSA?
Q. How would a diocese accomplish such a withdrawal?
A. It would rescind its existing accession to the constitution and canons of the national church ...
Q. If they rescind it, though, they no longer consent to accede to the constitution and canons; is that correct?
Q. So accession lasts for how long?
A. As long as consent is given.
Q. What did the Diocese of Quincy do when it amended its accession clause in 1993 with regard to indicating how long its consent would continue?
A. It declared that its continued involvement in the General Convention of the national church was subject to its continuing consent.
Q. What did the diocese of Quincy do with its accession clause in its constitution in 2008?
A. It repealed it. Well, I'm not sure what the correct political, legal language would be, but it revoked it.
Q. Making it what with regard to the polity of ECUSA?
A. An independent, a separate and autonomous entity outside ECUSA.
Q. No longer affiliated with ECUSA?
A. No longer affiliated with it.
MR. HALEY: Thank you, Dr. Bonner. No further questions.