The Diocese of South Carolina is the Only Authority to Convene a Convention in the Diocese

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“What the Presiding Bishop is trying to do is to organize a new diocese of the Episcopal Church in this area," ...[ Bishop Mark Lawrence] said. “We in the Diocese of South Carolina have nothing to do with that undertaking. The name “The [Episcopal] Diocese of South Carolina” is the registered property and identity of the Diocese.”

Bishop Lawrence explained that the continued use of the Dioceses’ corporate name and identity by TEC is causing confusion among the members of the Diocese and the wider South Carolina public. “This misuse of our name and identity by TEC is a violation of South Carolina law and can subject it to liability for treble damages and attorneys’ fees, he explained. “I call upon TEC to cease and desist from the continued misuse of our name and identity.“

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina

20 Comments
Posted December 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/46747/



1. Katherine wrote:

I am not a lawyer.  At this point it seems to me that a cease and desist letter from the Diocese’s lawyer to TEC is called for.

December 22, 8:16 pm | [comment link]
2. Cennydd13 wrote:

It will be ignored.

December 22, 9:12 pm | [comment link]
3. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

TEc has lots of practice imitating religion.

December 22, 9:33 pm | [comment link]
4. Chris wrote:

#2 I think you are right, but nonetheless we need to do it so ECUSA has official notice that they are misrepresenting themselves (fraud) by continuing this charade.

December 22, 10:36 pm | [comment link]
5. Northwest Bob wrote:

Perhaps her Most Reverendship will finally be hoist with her own legal petard.  Would be poetic justise.
In the Faith,
NW Bob

Northwest Bob

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  Colossians 3:16

December 23, 2:10 am | [comment link]
6. Ralph wrote:

In another situation, I was advised that a cease and desist process properly begins with a polite-yet-firm letter from an agent of the corporation. This letter is, of course, carefully reviewed by the corporation’s attorney. I’d guess that’s what this is.

Attorneys on both sides know that the process will probably escalate if that first letter is ignored. The letter directly from the attorney isn’t usually necessary, although I’d guess that it will take that and a court order to stop TEC from taking over the civil aspect of the DioSC corporation.

The attorneys who comment at this site might speculate on the quote, “This misuse of our name and identity by TEC is a violation of South Carolina law and can subject it to liability for treble damages and attorneys’ fees” and whether TEC might even be subject to civil prosecution for trying to assume the DioSC civil corporate identity.

December 23, 7:04 am | [comment link]
7. Pb wrote:

SC law is often slightly different from other states. The best example is the Dennis canon decision. It would be good to hear from SC lawyer. TEC’s imperial church concept is at stake here and I suspect they will litigate the issue. I would expect them to file first.

December 23, 10:39 am | [comment link]
8. Cennydd13 wrote:

And they will lose.

December 23, 4:04 pm | [comment link]
9. Luke wrote:

Dedicated obstinacy does not necessarily denote stupidity.

Thus far, it appears ECUSA has begun its typical campaign, but, given what they are up against in SC, the opening moves may well be probes to see how stout the SC defense is. Or, rather, how determined the SC defense will be. ECUSA’s talented lawyers are learning from every step, just as are those equally talented lawyers on the side of Orthodoxy across the nation.

If the defense seems too determined, ECUSA can always fall back; its leadership is sufficiently imaginative to justify to its audience, with a perfectly straight face, any tactical campaign change they may decide to make.

“With all that is on our plate at this time, it simply seems prudent to utilize our limited resources elsewhere,” explained Mr. Beers’ office. “We can always come back to SC once Texas is out of the way, if we deem it appropriated.”

As a matter of conjecture, I would be surprised if there are not already drafts of ECUSA press releases full of explanations as to why SC is just not quite ready for a full court press.

December 24, 5:21 am | [comment link]
10. Uh Clint wrote:

Several years ago, a small independent “Anglican” church in my area was fraudulently claiming to be affiliated with one of the large Continuum groups.  It took three letters from the chancellor, each one increasingly strong, to finally get the offending parish to “cease and desist”, but the grounds cited - possession of a registered trademark - was ironclad. 

The same holds true here.  The Episcopal Diocese of SC is a legal entity existing separate from and independent of TEC.  Even the fact that the DofSC was at one time part of TEC makes no difference insofar as the registration of the Diocese with the state of SC is concerned.  In order to have another entity (person/group) represent themselves as the DofSC, any and all rules established by the registered DofSC must be followed.  In other words, only the existing DofSC can legally take any action to change the DofSC; those who make a claim to that identity but cannot substantiate it according to the documents filed when the DofSC registered in SC have no legal basis whatsoever for a challenge.

This is one instance where the Denis Canon has no significance.  Everything falls under SC law, presumably that regarding registration of corporations [perhaps non-profits specifically].  And corporations cannot be arbitrarily taken over by outsiders; that’s both common sense and one of the basics of incorporation.

December 25, 7:37 pm | [comment link]
11. Luke wrote:

Most folks here, though, do understand that “Hav[ing] no legal basis whatsoever for a challenge” is not always a deterrent to an effort.

I am reminded of an instance where two heirs challenged a state’s law on the treatment of assets when a brother died in testate,; the law clearly stated what the asset disposition would be, but that did not keep two siblings and their lawyer from going into court to try to change things. Of course, it did not work.

When there are funds for fees, it is usually possible to find an attorney to file an action.

December 26, 6:09 am | [comment link]
12. billqs wrote:

Unless TEC finds some way to separate DoSC from it’s property and finances, I would imagine they will sue individual parishes, as many of them don’t have enough money of their own to stand against the 800lb TEC Gorilla.  The fact they will ultimately lose doesn’t really concern TEC, they are going for the intimidation factor.

December 27, 3:05 pm | [comment link]
13. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

This one seems pretty straightforward given TEC’s leadership demonstrated ability to take notice of public statements and follow that by actions allegedly based on its understanding of such statements (e.g., TEC"s allegations concerning Bishop Lawrence having abandoned his clerical orders). The Diocese’s statement re TEC’s announced “special convention” is, in fact, a public notice that should be crystal clear to any reasonable person reading the same and, in the short term, the ball now appears to be in TEC’s court, however, looking beyond the short term, I’d expect TEC’s odd special meeting “solution” not to come to fruition. What happens next with TEC’s leadership “solution” may be either a change of plans by TEC’s leadership on its own initiative, or, failing that, the Diocese may very soon simply proceed to file a civil motion—an action that I believe many wouldn’t likely consider much of a “long shot”..

December 27, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
14. Luke wrote:

You lost me.

December 27, 6:48 pm | [comment link]
15. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

#14. I assume you are referring to having been lost by my post (#13), which deals with different matters from those in your earlier post (#11). The “special convention” matter doesn’t involve especially mysterious or even complex matters, and doesn’t involve the same issues as would be found in litigation involving the property of an individual who died intestate. In the “special convention” matter, it’s clear that the Diocese is a legal entity under the law of South Carolina and there are legal protections for a legally-established entity—in this case, the Diocese—that can arise where another even attempts to usurp the legally-established entity’s authority and/or identity. Although your comment (#11) doesn’t spell out what the issues were in the property litigation you refer to, the issues involved could, for example, involved matters relating to whether certain property would pass to someone under contract law rather than under legal provisions that pertain to estates, whether certain property would pass to someone under “gift” law rather than legal provisions pertaining to estates, etc.—issues that aren’t relevant to TEC’s “special convention.”

December 27, 8:53 pm | [comment link]
16. Luke wrote:

15. Hey, whoa up there, feller…what an onslaught of legalese overkill! You are on a BLOG - not in a courtroom arguing.

Of course, there is no legal connection between an intestate situation and a DioSC conventon…nor did I imply there was. Try reading for comprehension.

My only point was that when there’s enough money for an upfront fee, one can find a lawyer to take on almost any lost cause, whether it’s challenging very clear state statutes on an intestate matter or a challenge on SC law as it pertains to the DioSC and its property.

But surely by now you get the point. Schorri has enough money to go into court, regardless of the expected outcome, to wear down folks, or to get them to spend their funds.

That’s all, folks!

December 27, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
17. wmresearchtrianglenc wrote:

#16. Luke, your point re legal fees was clear the first time I read it (in #11), I simply disagree that it’s really that germane in the present situation, as I’ll explain further. What I intended to offer—and believe did—doesn’t involve “legalese” at all, but a realistic, clear look at a bigger picture involving a particular legal matter. I believe your posts have been unrealistic and, most importantly, highly pessimistic regarding a party’s ability to successfully deal with legal issues when the law is favorable to one side, and now see that you express a concern about the Presiding Bishop’s supposed ability to “wear down folks.”  I’m pretty sure my memory is accurate that the Presiding Bishop had retained a local South Carolina attorney a considerable period of time before the “special convention” matter even appeared on the scene, so I’ve focused on the present issue and not some strong concern regarding upfront legal fees or a party’s ability to “wear down folks” (Luke, I don’t think most folks agree that these concerns are really what it’s “all” about).

EVEN IF a “special convention” should occur, it’s highly likely to be followed by a court order unfavorable to TEC, one which would be formally brought before TEC, to the effect—and based on the reality—that the existing Diocese continues as the Diocese, having every right to protection from an attempt to usurp its identity and/or authority, and thus, Bishop Lawrence remains Bishop of the Diocese. Obviously, the House of Bishops would like to avoid a having to deal with any of this, so what I believe may actually occur instead of a “special convention” isn’t the commencement of some financially ominous legal actions. Instead, I would expect some meeting(s) to occur involving TEC, the Diocese, and possibly members of the Communion, in an attempt to come to some reasonable resolution that will avoid a major HOB event. The possibility of the legal “tool” known as a “mandatory injunction” can help to have a very optimistic outlook regarding certain legal disputes.

December 28, 2:40 pm | [comment link]
18. Luke wrote:

17. wmresearchtrianglenc
As requested, Whoa up there, feller. My most abject apologies for not making it clear that, whilest your intense, legal-related conjecture might interest some folks, it does not interest me.
Perhaps you can address it to some group at large, then?
Thanks.

December 28, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
19. Uh Clint wrote:

Luke,

It would help if you could provide some reasoning and background to establish your position.  Criticizing “legalese” and rejecting replies that “[do] not interest [you]” is reminiscent of chanting “Four legs good, two legs bad” in ‘Animal Farm’.  Please, cite some specific examples which support your ideas, and some factual basis (which can usually be found using Google, and even phrased in everyday language) for your thoughts.

December 29, 6:59 pm | [comment link]
20. Luke wrote:

To what end?

This topic is about ECUSA vs. DioSC, NOT about non-participants in that situation defending their comments.

December 29, 8:52 pm | [comment link]


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