Thursday, July 3, 2014

Judge Goodstein halts rump diocese delay tactics; Trial to begin July 8

South Carolina Circuit judge orders TEC to complete 34 depositions it had cancelled – and cited as a reason to delay the trial – on Monday

Judge Goodstein
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 3, 2014 – After 18 months of delays, a South Carolina court will on Tuesday begin considering the lawsuit to protect Diocese of South Carolina assets from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein, who will preside over the trial, said on Thursday that she will allow TEC to spend Monday taking 34 depositions it had previously cancelled. TEC and TECSC have cited the cancelled depositions in their efforts to delay the trial. Arguments will commence on Tuesday.

Judge Goodstein’s decision ends the protracted effort by TEC and TECSC to delay trial. Since May 21 alone, TEC has filed five motions for either continuance or to ask the courts to reconsider previous decisions. The three requests to delay the trial have all been rejected by the courts.

“We are grateful the judge has ended the delays by TEC and TECSC,” said Jan Pringle, spokesperson for the Diocese. “We only wish the denomination had not wasted so much of its members’ money and the court’s time on these frivolous stalling tactics.”

TEC has a long history of dragging out legal battles, apparently in hopes of draining the resources of parishes and dioceses it seeks to punish for leaving the denomination. It has spent more than $40 million on litigation in the past few years. TEC routinely appeals court decisions in hopes of wearing down its opposition – and to intimidate parishes and dioceses that wish to leave the denomination.

The South Carolina Supreme Court took jurisdiction of all appeals in this matter, effectively ensuring that appeals will be considered in an expedited manner to minimize the time wasted.

The Diocese of South Carolina disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October 2012 after TEC tried to remove its duly elected bishop, Mark Lawrence. Following the Diocese’s decision, 49 churches representing 80 percent of the Diocese’s 30,000 members voted to remain in union with the Diocese and not with TEC.

The Diocese has consistently disagreed with TEC’s embrace of what most members of the global Anglican Communion believe to be a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes following Christ’s teachings optional for salvation.



UPDATE: Court of Appeals denies yet another rump diocese appeal.

UPDATE 2: Real Diocese of South Carolina responds to request for continuance, asks for sanctions against rump diocese lawyers.