In compliance with the mandate issued by the Texas Supreme Court on March 21st, today the 141st District Court in Fort Worth agreed to move forward with a new trial in the property suit brought five years ago by The Episcopal Church against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It is anticipated that the next major event in the proceedings will be a hearing on motion for summary judgment sometime this fall, when neutral principles of law concerning trusts and property ownership in the State of Texas will be applied in the dispute.
On Thursday morning Judge John Chupp heard discussion on both sides, then ruled on two motions. He denied a motion by TEC to stay the resumption of proceedings in his court, which would have postponed the case further while TEC considers an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; and he ordered the return of the $100,000 cash bond posted by the Diocese in October 2011 in connection with our appeal to the state Supreme Court. His order also terminates other conditions of the supersedeas bond.
Commenting on the result, diocesan attorney Scott Brister noted, “The judge ruled with us. It’s time to move forward and finish this suit.”
“We are grateful to be relieved of the obligations of the supersedeas order,” added diocesan chancellor David Weaver. “We appreciate the continued prayers of our congregations as we navigate our way through the civil justice system.”
In the near future our attorneys will present the trial court with a proposed scheduling order to move the case forward in compliance with the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion of August 30, 2013.
The Diocese is delighted to be on a path toward the conclusion of a lengthy and costly legal process. Bishop Iker said, “This is a great encouragement to us, and we look forward to the day when all these legal proceedings are behind us and we can get on with the mission of the Church without the distraction of litigation.”