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Episcopal Church confident it will win Fort Worth fight: Anglican Ink, September 12, 2013 September 13, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High

The Episcopal Church will prevail in its court battle with Bishop Jack L. Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., said this week, arguing the doctrine of neutral principles of law favors their cause.

On 9 Sept 2013 Bishop High and members of the diocesan standing committee along with the national church appointed trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and officers for the Fund for the Endowment of the Episcopate met with their lawyers to review the Texas Supreme Court’s 30 August 2013 decision in No. 11-0265Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.

In the Fort Worth case the Court by a vote of 5 to 4 overturned a Tarrant County trial court decision that awarded the property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to the national Episcopal Church and its local allies.  The Supreme Court held the trial court erred in deferring to the denominational polity of the national church. The ruling nullified the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in Texas, holding the national church’s property rules had no legal effect in the state.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

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Oregon rejects the Dennis Canon: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2012 December 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
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The Oregon Supreme Court has handed down a decision in a Presbyterian Church property dispute that effectively nullifies the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in its jurisdiction.

In a 29 Nov 2012 decision in Hope Presbyterian Church of Rogue River v the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbytery of the Cascades the Oregon Supreme Court held that a denominational trust does not encumber parish property unless the parish takes an explicit action to place a trust or lien on the property on behalf of the denomination.

Last week’s rule had immediate ramifications for Episcopal Church property disputes as lawyers for Bishop Jack Iker and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed a letter brief with the Texas Supreme Court reporting the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of “neutral principles of law” in adjudication church property disputes.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Virginia Supreme Court rejects Episcopal Church property canon: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2012 p 7. November 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church, Virginia.
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The Virginia Supreme Court has refused to overturn a lower court decision dismissing the Dennis Canon – the national church’s controversial property laws that seek to impose a trust on congregational property in favor of the national church and local diocese.

On 26 Oct 2012 the court announced that a three judge writ panel had granted the petition of The Falls Church to hear its appeal in The Episcopal Church v. The Falls Church.  However, it also let stand the lower court ruling that the Dennis Canon has no legal effect in property disputes in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On 16 Oct, attorneys for the Northern Virginia congregation were permitted 10 minutes of oral argument to state why they believed the court should review their case.  The church asked the court to “review the entire lower court decision for failing to follow U.S. and Virginia Supreme Court decisions applying ‘neutral principles’ of secular property and contract law to resolve disputes about church property. Our Petition also sought review on several other grounds, including some specific to the Historic Church building, where our deed pre-dates the existence of both the Episcopal Diocese and the entire Episcopal denomination, and to the ‘non-consecrated’ property.”

The Attorney General of Virginia also filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of The Falls Church asking it to review the “lower court’s decision to override the expressed desires of a substantial majority of our donors that their contributions should not go to the Episcopal denomination or Diocese,” the parish said.

In a statement released on 30 Oct 2012, a spokesman for the Diocese of Virginia said they were disappointed by the court’s decision.  “Regardless of this development, this diocese looks toward the future with hope as we continue to serve this world in need,” said diocesan secretary Henry Burt.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed the diocese’s appeal sought to give legal effect to denominational property trusts.  “By its order, the writ panel expressly refused to consider the Diocese’s and ECUSA’s cross-assignments of this claimed error, so Judge Bellows’ ruling on that specific point will stand,” Mr. Haley said.

This “means that the Dennis Canon has no effect in Virginia. Instead, according to Judge Bellows, Virginia courts will look to other indicia of ‘proprietary interests in’,” such as actual ownership and control over parish property in adjudicating these claims, he said.

Dennis Canon dead in Virginia: Anglican Ink, October 30, 2012 October 31, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, Virginia.
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The Falls Church

The Virginia Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that held the Dennis Canon has no legal effect in property disputes in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In an order released last week, a three-judge writ panel of the Supreme Court refused to hear the Diocese of Virginia’s cross-appeal in the case of The Episcopal Church v. The Falls Church and left standing Fairfax County District Court Judge Randy Bellows ruling the Episcopal Church’s national property canon is not binding on the civil courts of Virginia.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.