Friday, July 25, 2014

Stand Firm: Appellate Court Affirms Lower Court Decision in Quincy Appeal

July 25, 2014

NOTE from Jackie:  Allan [Haley] is still travelling and will comment on this as soon as he can.  I am posting a small excerpt from the decision but it can be read in its entirety here.  While we wait for Allan to find a place with wifi, let’s celebrate the good news!
An examination of the evidence reveals nothing to demonstrate an express trust, an implied trust, or any other interest vested in the Church. As stated, neither the deed nor the Discretionary Agency Agreement provides for an express trust in favor of the Church. Further, our review of the Diocese’s constitution and canons does not suggest diocesan assets were ever impliedly held in trust for the Church. After Jones, the Church adopted a trust canon (Title I.7.4, referred to by the parties as the Dennis Canon). That canon provides parish property is held in trust for the Diocese and Church and restricts a parish’s ability to dispose of its property. However, it appears undisputed the Church’s canons do not contain similar language with respect to diocesan property being held in favor of the Church. In addition, Bonner testified the Dennis Canon does not apply to property owned by a diocese. Our review of the record reveals nothing to suggest the opposite conclusion. Accordingly, the trial court’s findings in this regard are not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
¶ 55 In sum, the evidence presented demonstrates title to the funds and real property lies with the Diocese. Following our review of the record, we cannot say the trial court’s findings
were arbitrary, unreasonable, or not otherwise based on the evidence. Nor can we say the opposite conclusion is clearly apparent in this case. As a result, the court did not err in finding in favor of the Diocese. We commend the trial court for its detailed order, which we found quite helpful in reviewing this matter.
¶ 57 For the reasons stated, we affirm the trial court’s judgment and deny the Church’s motion to substitute party.
¶ 58 Affirmed; motion denied.

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