Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trying the Quincy Case (I): ECUSA's Expert under Fire

Now that the Quincy decision has been published, I shall use the next few weeks to publish selected excerpts from the testimony at the trial. In light of the efforts by ECUSA to advance -- in all of its litigated cases thus far -- a particular theory of its polity as "three-tiered" (from General Convention to the Dioceses to the individual parishes), with the claim that the structure is "hierarchical", I want to begin with the close examination of that claim made at the Quincy trial, which resulted in Judge Ortbal's careful and measured findings that I analyzed here.

The best way to do so is through the cross-examination of ECUSA's expert witness on its polity and history, Dr. Robert Bruce Mullin, who testified all day on both April 29 and April 30 of this year. His cross-examination by Alan Runyan, an attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina under Bishop Lawrence, is a case study in how to break apart a structure into which every effort has been poured to make it appear as solid.

That cross-examination (on behalf of the Anglican Diocese) was followed by a further and well-honed cross-examination by Talmadge G. Brenner, the Chancellor for Quincy, on behalf of its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Alberto Morales, whom ECUSA had named individually as a counter-defendant in its counterclaim in the case. (That is what comes of suing people personally -- they get their own attorneys, who have the right to participate fully in all aspects of the trial.)

Accordingly, here is the link to the transcript of that testimony on the afternoon of April 30, 2013 (a .pdf download). In a later update to this post,  I will have more comments on its high points. (As some readers have already noted, the transcript is not without its errors -- some of them [as in "Metropolitical Sea"] unintentionally comical. The problem is that the standard reference book for court reporters does not include any official abbreviations for ecclesiastical terms, such as "dioceses", "synod", or "see" -- as in the see of a bishop. So they took down those terms as they heard them from the witness stand.)


  1. After reading that elegant disemboweling, I can only be grateful that Mary Kostel chose not to do the same thing to me.

    As a historian witness I will say that testifying in court on matters like these is an experience like no other and when you afterwards read over your own transcript, it always sounds terribly lame (except when you're quoting other authorities).

  2. 815's expert has earned $900,000 for his work. A couple of days in the dock is a small price for him to pay.

  3. While Mr. Alan Runyan does a lot for our legal team here in SC and deserves every bit of respect he has in the Diocese of South Carolina, alas he is not our Chancellor. That would be Mr. Wade Logan. Otherwise, excellent as usual.

    SC Blu Cat Lady

  4. Thank you, Galletta, for that correction -- I have revised the text.

  5. Not sure I want to go near the monstrosity that Robert Bruce Mullin (an academic like myself, both of us published and with doctorates--mine Ph.D. and his probably D.D. or something) makes in 3 months more than what I make in a year providing pseudo-historical justification to back a national entity's legalized theft of other people's places of worship. We can both answer to our Makers and thus don't need to peel that banana tonight.

    Some of the exchanges really get quite interesting. For instance:

    "I think that this is a provocative statement. I think it's one that if I were in a room with my colleague, Professor Prichard, I would say come on, Bob, you don't really mean that, do you, and it will be an interesting beginning for a discussion...Virginia Seminary...Second best seminary in the Episcopal Church. That's on the record, isn't it?"

    Dr. Mullin comes off quite arrogant in this exchange and others.

  6. I love the way Beers keeps jumping in to bail him out - basically arguing "Well, yes, he's saying that all this history supports our view of the canons but he can't possible know what the canons say because that's not his field."