The two sides in federal trademarks case between the breakaway diocese and the continuing diocese have agreed to mediation following the recent decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court which largely ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church and the continuing diocese. This is revealed in documents filed Friday by the breakaway diocese in their petition requesting a rehearing by the SCSC. A hearty hat tip to Ron Caldwell of The Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina blog for this observation. (More from Caldwell on the mediation news here.)
From the Motion for Extension (pdf)
The state property and federal trademarks cases have been in play at the same time. Judge Richard Gergel recently took over the federal case following the death of Judge Charles Huock. Huock had delayed scheduling hearings although a higher federal court had ordered him to proceed. In the meantime, the South Carolina Supreme Court had heard its case in 2015, but only very recently issued its decision.
Concerning the federal case, Caldwell on August 26 noted,
Gergel is … almost the opposite of Judge Houck who seemed simply overwhelmed by it all. Time and again Houck simply deferred to the state courts, even when he was directly ordered to proceed by the U.S. appeals court.
Gergel had the case only a few days when he sprang into action calling the lawyers in, and on August 8, issuing a scheduling order. Discovery is to be finished by December of 2017. Trial is to be held in March of 2018. Where has Gergel been all this time? Why do not we have more judges like this? A week after the scheduling order, on August 15, the Episcopal Church filed a motion with Gergel to be added to the case along side the Church diocese. Seven days later (Aug. 22), DSC lawyer Henrietta Golding filed a response strenuously objecting to the inclusion. The very next day (Aug. 23), Gergel issued an eight-page “Order and Opinion” granting TEC’s motion and rejecting every one of Golding’s arguments.
Probably the most important part of Gergel’s Order was his firm resolution to adjudicate this case. It involves federal law in a federal court. He pointed out that every one of the five state supreme court justices deferred to the federal court to resolve the federal issue of trademarks.
The continuing diocese offered a settlement in the state property case prior to oral arguments in 2015. The breakaway diocese declined.
Image from To Tell the Truth