Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fresno Judge Denies ECUSA's Motion for Summary Judgment

There is very good news for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, now under the leadership of Bishop Eric Menees. Last Thursday, the Fresno Superior Court (Jeffrey Hamilton, J.) filed his decision adopting his tentative ruling of March 6 as his final ruling with respect to the Motion for Summary Judgment / Summary Adjudication filed by the plaintiff rump diocese and its bishop, Bishop Talton, and joined in by ECUSA itself.

The ruling denies ECUSA and its totem plaintiffs any summary judgment, because it finds that there are disputed issues of fact still to be resolved in connection with the Diocese's right to withdraw from ECUSA, as it voted to do in December 2007. In so doing, it adopts the "neutral principles of law" approach prescribed by the Court of Appeals, and it correctly applies that approach to find that the plaintiffs failed to show, as a matter of law, that anything in ECUSA's Constitution or canons, or anything in its long history with the Diocese, restricts the right of a Diocese to disaffiliate.

Now ECUSA will have to go to trial against Bishop Schofield on its claims that he was not authorized to lead his Diocese out of the Church. Since there was no canonical or constitutional provision which Bishop Schofield's Diocese could be said to have violated when it voted to disaffiliate, the present ruling will make it that much more difficult for ECUSA to prove its claims at trial.

However, ECUSA is not out of arrows in its quiver yet. It has filed reply papers in the federal court litigation in South Carolina which attempt to make a wholly new argument for its priority in being able to decide, as a matter of federal law under the First Amendment, that Dioceses are not free to leave the Church without the consent of General Convention. But as you might well imagine, that is a very far-fetched and tenuous argument which will require the Curmudgeon to devote an entirely new post to its refutation. So, stay tuned!


  1. Our Vicar suggested that the judge might well make permanent his temporary action. What a great day. Not quite ready to open the bottle of Napoleon's brandy that our family has been passing down for generations....but maybe I'll head out and buy some beer from Shiner, Texas and celebrate very quietly.
    We shall await the Post of Refutation with gusto!!
    El Gringo Viejo

  2. Much success to them. After six years of litigation, we at The Falls Church Anglican have had two separate trials and been to the Virginia Supreme Court twice. We have lost virtually everything, humanly speaking: the buildings, and almost all cash and personal property. Yet, during that time, we planted several more churches, and have experienced the kind of spiritual purifying that comes only from the refiner's fire.

  3. When all these arrows are shot, will the 815 cheka bring a civil lawsuit against its opponents for the "undue stress and emotional anguish" afflicted on their legal team?

    Aside from all of their other motives for doing this, I think they must also be addicted to litigation: an easy habit to feed when they (unlike their opponents) aren't paying for it out of their own personal pockets.

  4. Will Judge Hamilton be presiding over the trial?

    David Katzakian

  5. He could, David K., but there are no guarantees. It will depend on each judge's own calendar when the trial date arrives. However, I think that Bishop Talton and his group will be requesting a trial date later in 2014, so at this point it is impossible to predict anything.