On Monday, June 29, attorneys for the (Episcopal) Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church filed a Motion for Reconsideration and to Alter or Amend in the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial Circuit. This legal action is in response to the recent Order issued by South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson that seemed to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court final judgement from August 2017 which ruled that the diocesan property and 29 parishes should be returned to the parties affiliated with The Episcopal Church. This Supreme Court judgement in 2017 marked a reversal of the lower court decision.
The motion requests that the Court “should reconsider the Order and alter or amend it to conform to the Supreme Court’s holding that the property of the twenty-nine churches is held in trust for Defendants and that the Defendant diocese is the beneficiary of the trust that owns legal title to the Diocesan Property.” The motion also asks “the Court to discharge its job of enforcing the final judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court.”
Throughout the 20-page document, attorneys for the Diocese and The Episcopal Church offer the following six reasons to reconsider the Order as they were outlined on page 3 (each were explained and supported in full in the text of the motion):
- This Court lacked the authority to issue the Order.
- Even if this Court had the authority to construe the Supreme Court’s decision, the Order misinterprets and contradicts that decision.
- Even if this Court somehow had the authority to relitigate the issues upon which the Supreme Court previously ruled, the Order incorrectly analyzes the facts and improperly applies the law.
- The Order incorrectly finds Plaintiffs were denied due process.
- Because of its rulings, the Court erred in denying Defendants’ requested relief.
- The Order fails to rule on all issues raised by Defendants
As noted on page 18 of the motion: “After eight years of the adversarial process, for the Circuit Court to take away legally recognized rights at this time – based on the identical record that led to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Judge Goodstein – is nothing short of arbitrary and capricious.”
Judge Edgar Dickson, a circuit court judge representing the First Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, was assigned this case in November 2017 when the South Carolina Supreme Court (SCSC) denied a Petition for Rehearing filed by the disassociated diocese. At that time, the SCSC issued a remittitur for the lower court to enforce the final judgement as decided by a 3-2 majority of the Court, which reversed the decision of the trial court.