Monday, May 06, 2013

A.S. Haley: Judge's Ruling in St. James Case Puts Cloud on Many Former Episcopal Properties in California

May 2, 2013

So according to Judge Dunning's May 1 ruling, the trust imposed on all Episcopal parishes in California may only be dissolved in the manner by which it was imposed in the first place -- by a canon duly enacted by General Convention.

Do you understand now the huge impact this ruling could have if it is affirmed on appeal?

According to it, since no sale of any California property owned by an Episcopal parish ever received any release of the Dennis Canon by General Convention, then all of those properties that have been marketed and sold since 1980 -- parking lots, rectors' residences, and auxiliary properties, to say nothing of church buildings themselves -- are still subject to the Dennis Canon trust, no matter what any diocesan bishop or standing committee purported to allow. They were not the General Convention.

To reach her ridiculous conclusion, therefore, that no one diocesan or standing committee may waive or release the Dennis Canon on behalf of any Diocese, or on behalf of the national Church, Judge Dunning has managed at one stroke to cloud the titles of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pieces of property sold and conveyed by Episcopal parishes in California since 1980.

And that is just one problem with her seriously flawed decision, which relies upon circular reasoning and deliberate misreadings of parish governing documents, as well. The decision is not only a travesty of justice, but as I say, it should make title companies all across California fear for all of the various policies they have issued to buyers of church property since 1980.  the rest


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