Oral Arguments Tomorrow in Texas and Virginia
On October 16, beginning at 9 a.m. Central (Daylight) Time, the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two Episcopal church property cases: first (starting at 9:00) will be The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al., Case No. 11-0265. You can find downloadable versions of all the briefs (including amici briefs) at this link. The Court’s official summary of what is at stake in the case is as follows:
The principal issue in this case is essentially the same ownership question as that in 11-0332, Robert Masterson, et al. v. Diocese of Northwest Texas, et al., set to be argued the same day: whether in Texas the a diocese seeking to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church or the larger Episcopal governing entity owns the church property in the diocese and whether ownership should be decided by “neutral principles” using established trust and property law and taking account of deeds, the governing language employed by a local church and the larger denomination, or by “compulsory deference”, determining where church members place ultimate authority over property use.
The other case, referred to in the summary of the Fort Worth case just given, is Robert Masterson, et al. v. Diocese of Northwest Texas, et al., Case No. 11-0332 (briefs may be downloaded here). Arguments in Masterson will immediately follow the Ft. Worth arguments, beginning at 9:50 a.m. Here is the Court’s summary of that case:
The principal issues in this property dispute between the diocese and a breakaway congregation are (1) whether in Texas the dispute should be decided by “neutral principles” – using established trust and property law and taking account of deeds, the governing language employed by a local church and the larger denomination – or by “compulsory deference” – determining where church members place ultimate authority over property use and (2) whether the trial court erred by deciding the diocese owns the property.
To watch the oral arguments tomorrow, go to this page and click on the respective case names when they are highlighted in blue.
As described earlier in this post, the Virginia Supreme Court will also hear oral argument tomorrow from just the attorneys for The Falls Church on why it should agree to review the decision of Judge Randy Bellows. There is no online video for court sessions, but the public is welcome to attend and listen to the brief (ten-minute) argument (The Falls Church case is No. 32 on the list of cases to be heard tomorrow), which is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
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