Monday, April 02, 2012

A.S. Haley: Truro Church and The Falls Church Appeal; Epiphany Settles

March 31, 2012

Late Friday came word (H/T: Baby Blue) that Truro Church in Virginia (to be joined by The Falls Church) had filed a Notice of Appeal from the January 2012 decision of Judge Bellows awarding all of the Anglican (CANA) parishes’ real and personal property to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as finalized in a judgment just a few weeks ago. (A copy of the Notice of Appeal by The Falls Church is attached to its motion for a stay of judgment, linked in the next paragraph.)

The Notices were accompanied by motions to stay enforcement of the judgment, and to set the amount of the parties’ supersedeas bonds on appeal. Ordinarily when a party appeals from a civil judgment, the party which prevailed below may still execute on the judgment pending the appeal. In the cases of Truro Church and The Falls Church, for instance, the Diocese could still take possession of all their property and bank accounts which Judge Bellows had ordered them to surrender, notwithstanding their having taken appeals.

To prevent having to surrender all of their properties, the two churches have asked Judge Bellows to stay the enforcement of his judgment, pending a final decision on appeal. In such cases, the court may grant a stay only upon condition that the parties post sufficient bonds (called “supersedeas bonds”, because they take the place of the judgment until it becomes final) in such amounts as the court decides. Such bonds are filed with the court clerk in the form either of cash, or of an irrevocable letter of credit in the required amount.

To fix the amount of the bond each appellant will have to post, Judge Bellows will first hear arguments from both sides next April 20. The Diocese will argue for the maximum amount possible – probably, the total fair market value of all of the parish properties, plus their bank accounts and other personal property. That sum would come to many millions of dollars, and the Diocese’s object in asking for it would be to try to impoverish the parishes so that they did not have sufficient funds to pay their attorneys. (The Diocese did not stint on making such punitive requests of the court earlier, and there is no reason to expect it to act any differently now—pace Bishop Johnston.) the rest


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