Episcopalians Seek Additional Protection for Church Property While on Appeal

Episcopalians Seek Additional Protection for Church Property While on Appeal

On April 25, 2011 the Southern Cone Parties filed in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County a motion to set supersedeas bond at zero dollars ($).

The Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure provides a remedy for a party that appeals a judgment to stop the implementation of the judgment, e.g. surrendering possession of property, against them if they post a bond or provide other protection to the winning party. The Southern Cone Parties seek a direct appeal to the Texas Supreme Court from Judge Chupp’s February 8, 2011 partial summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Parties.

Rule 24.2(a)(2) provides that,

“When the judgment is for the recovery of an interest in real or personal property, the trial court will determine the type of security that the judgment debtor must post. The amount of that security must be at least:
(A) the value of the property interest’s rent or revenue, if the property interest is real; or
(B) the value of the property interest on the date when the court rendered judgment, if the property interest is personal.”

The Southern Cone Parties have made it clear that, while the case is on appeal, they expect to avoid any such bond or other protection while they continue spending Episcopal funds, occupying Episcopal facilities, and using Episcopal records and names. They claim that requiring them to post any bond or provide any protection would cause them substantial economic hardship, in part because of an affidavit from Frost Bank stating that all of the diocesan accounts, except the depository accounts, have been frozen. They also state their intention to continue to spend Episcopal money and encumber Episcopal property to secure loans to pay their attorneys fees. The hearing on their motion is set for Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in the 141st District Court.

On April 25, 2011 the Local Episcopal Parties filed their Motion to Continue Hearing on Supersedeas and For Additional Protection. he motion includes the following points:

  • Other Texas courts that have dealt with single Episcopal parishes in San Angelo and El Paso, not an entire diocese, have required the break-away factions to post a cash deposit or a supersedeas bond and imposed additional restrictions as a condition for their continued use of the Episcopal property while those cases are on appeal. The amounts of those bonds were $35,000 and $200,000, respectively. Using those figures, a reasonable bond in the Fort Worth case should be in the amount of $1,654,000 to $9,400,000 just on the Diocesan property now used by the 47 Southern Cone congregations, plus an additional amount for the Diocesan Center and Camp Crucis property. In addition the Fort Worth court should impose additional restrictions on the breakaway groups’ dissipating or transferring Diocesan and parish and mission property and funds, other than outside of the ordinary course of business.
  • It is necessary for the court to consider competent evidence on the properties’ rent or revenue.
  • The Southern Cone Parties present no evidence of the properties’ rent or revenue, claiming they are worth zero dollars ($0).
  • The Southern Cone parties created their own emergency by waiting to file their motion barely three days before the proposed hearing date on April 28, seeking to avoid a May 5 injunction that they stop holding themselves out as officials of the Diocese and its entities. The Episcopal Parties need time to prepare for the hearing, including depositions and review of documents the Southern Cone Parties refuse to produce.
  • Despite their representations otherwise, the Southern Cone Parties have already dissipated or transferred church property since November 15, 2008, including transferring substantial funds across state lines to at least one new account in a Louisiana bank, purporting to impose a $3.5 million lien on diocesan property in favor of a Southern Cone insider, and admittedly spending down on accounts and endowments for non-Episcopal uses, including payments to persons who are no longer Episcopal clergy.

The hearing on the Episcopal motion is set for Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. in the 141st District Court.