Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Virginia Supreme Court to hear The Falls Church Anglican's petition October 16, 2012, in Richmond

From here:

The historic Falls Church, Falls Church, Virginia
Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia informed the parties that it would hear a brief oral argument on October 16, beginning at 1 p.m., on the petition filed by The Falls Church to review the judgment entered against it in Fairfax County Circuit Court. In Virginia, appeals from civil judgments are not a matter of right. Only the Supreme Court hears civil appeals, and it has discretion to refuse review. The purpose of the brief argument is to give the appellant's attorneys an opportunity to emphasize to the Court's writ panel (which will consist of just three of the Court's seven justices) the reasons why it should accept the case for review.

The argument is limited to just ten minutes. Only the appellant's attorneys (the ones who filed the petition seeking review) may argue, but the appellees, their attorneys, and members of the general public may attend and listen to the proceedings. There is more about the writ panel procedure at this link.

The last time this case was before the Virginia Supreme Court, in April 2010, only five of the Court's seven justices heard the case (including two retired senior justices), because four active justices recused themselves (most likely on the ground that they were Episcopalians). Of the active Justices who did not recuse themselves, Justice Cynthia D. Kinser is now the Chief Justice, and the former Chief Justice, Leroy R. Hassell, is no longer on the Court. The only other active Justice who sat on the prior appeal is Justice LeRoy F. Millette. The two senior justices who participated, Justice Elizabeth Lacy and Justice Lawrence Koontz, are still hearing appeals in the place of Justices who recuse themselves.

New on the Supreme Court since the April 2010 hearing are Justice Cleo E. Powell, who began her twelve-year term in October 2011, after serving both in the Circuit Court and on the Court of Appeals, and Justice Elizabeth A. McClanahan, who was sworn in in September 2011. Justice Powell belongs to the Baptist Church (her pastor is the current Mayor of Richmond); the religious affiliation of Justice McClanahan, if any, is unknown. 

With Justices Lemons, Goodwyn and Mims likely to recuse themselves again, that would leave three, or potentially four, active Justices available to hear the case. Thus it is likely that one or more of the senior justices will again be called upon to participate, if the petition is accepted.

The decision whether or not to accept the appeal will not be announced for several more weeks after the writ panel meets on October 16.

That date, by the way, is the same day on which the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in both the Fort Worth and the San Angelo appeals.

Read it all here.

Update: The Diocese of Virginia has released a statement:

September 25, 2012

Dear Friends,

Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia informed us that it will hear the Falls Church Anglican's petition for appeal on Tuesday, October 16 at 1 p.m. This hearing consists of a 10-minute oral argument by the attorneys for the Falls Church Anglican, who will seek to persuade the Court to hear their appeal on the merits. The Supreme Court will decide whether it will hear the case in a few weeks after the hearing. If the appeal is accepted for argument, it is likely to be heard in the first half of next year.

While the litigation process unfortunately does continue with regards to the Falls Church, it is far outshone by the tremendous excitement and energy in Dayspring, the diocesan-wide initiative for ministry in the properties that have returned to the mission of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia. Each Dayspring congregation's faithfulness to God's call is breathtaking. Please look to the Fall 2012 issue of the Virginia Episcopalian magazine to read more about their stories.


Henry D.W. Burt
Secretary and Chief of Staff

The Living Church also has a post here.


Ralph said...

Praise God! May the Anglican's lawyers have the wisdom to give a very convincing 10 minute case.

We really need to pray over this, that justice may return to this case--and the theft of millions of dollars of historic property of the faithful by TEC will be overturned.

BabyBlue Anglican said...

As is custom here, we do allow anons to post. At the same time, if you ask a question it would be helpful if you at least take some time to either post your name or a name we can use to answer you. Imagine running by a cafe, flinging the door open, shouting out a question and then running off is what it is like when we do anon-post flybys.

If you are from the Diocese of Virginia or the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic or something else, let us know that - we don't need to know your name, but a little about where you are coming from and why you are asking helps real conversation and not those infamous posting flybys.

And remember - God does know our real names - He always knows. :)


Kevin said...

Encouraging. Also in my prayers

Andy said...

Prayers ascending...