Monday, June 18, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Supreme Court denies certiorari on Gauss and Timberridge

From here:

The motion of St. James Anglican Church, et al. for leave to file a brief as amici curiae is granted. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.


More background info here.

UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon now has his commentary up here.  Curmudgeon writes:
The result today for church property law is regrettable, because it means that the morass of State court decisions interpreting Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595 (1979) will remain unresolved, with some States allowing certain churches to bypass their legal requirements for the creation of a trust, and with other States requiring that all churches comply with their local trust laws. Thus the outcome of any church-parish dispute over property will continue to turn upon the State in which it arises: if the parish is in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York or Ohio, it will most likely lose its property; but if it is in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire or South Carolina, it will most likely keep its property. And if it is in Kentucky or Pennsylvania or Virginia, then the courts could hold that any national trust canon is ineffective to create a trust, but still find that a trust existed anyway.
Fortunately, the denial of review will have little or no bearing on the three pending property lawsuits involving entire dioceses which left the Church (Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin). That is because the Church's Dennis Canon has no application to real or personal property owned by dioceses. Furthermore, the fact that the Supreme Court declines to review a lower court's decision is not a judgment on the merits -- it does not mean that the Court views that case as having been correctly decided. Its net effect, therefore, will be to leave the various States' results exactly as they are.

Read it all here.


Anonymous said...

As of now, the various States' decisions stand.


Anonymous said...

Ouch. That smarts.

Daniel Weir said...

Mr. Haley, who I think may have been involved in some litigation over property, has correctly stated that the decision does not necessarily mean that the Justices agree with the decision in CT. It does, I would think, mean that there aren't four of the Justices who think that the decision is so likely to be wrong that it requires review and that it is an important enough matter for them to take time to review.

Anonymous said...

It also probably means that 0-3of them thought there was a federal issue raised. The trouble with these church cases (at least from the viewpoint of anyone who wants them to be reviewed at the federal level), is that they largely turn on state law issues.


Anonymous said...

This spells doom.

Anonymous said...

Anon -

Slender reed for the Falls Church to hope for.

Anonymous said...

The Falls Church (the one that departed the Episcopal Church, not the one that stayed) situation is a bit different from this one, Anon 1211. They have petitioned the Virginia Supreme Court, not the Supreme Court of the United States, and have raised multiple issues under state law. The US Supreme Court takes very few cases for review. The percentage of cases taken for review by the Virginia Supreme Court is much higher. If I had to wager, my nickel would be on the Virginia Supreme Court granting review on at least one of the issues advanced by the seceding Falls Church parishioners. If I am correct about that (I am frequently wrong in my predictions on legal matters, but have been right far more on church property issues than any other denizen of these blogs that traffic in such issues), the case advanced by those who left the Church but tried to take the buildings will get an airing at the Virginia Supreme Court on at least one assignment of error (my hunch is the donative intent issue). However, if the petition is granted, folks at this and a few other sites should contain their enthusiasm for the the recognition that a grant of a petition is not terribly informative about the ultimate ruling on the merits.