Judge sets date for second phase in Virginia property dispute

Via the Diocese of Virginia e-communique of January 16, 2008:

The Hon. Randy I. Bellows has set Oct. 6-30, 2008 for the second phase of the trial over ownership of Episcopal Church property.

In late November 2007, Judge Bellows presided over the first phase of litigation regarding Episcopal property in Virginia. The Trial was held in Fairfax Circuit Court and focused on the civil actions (also known as 57-9 filings for the section of the Code of Virginia) filed by the leadership of the CANA congregations in an effort to take Episcopal Church property with them when they decided to leave the Church.

The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church defended Episcopal Church property, stating that no division in the Church has occurred. While members of the Church are free to leave, the CANA congregations acted inappropriately when they asked the Court to let them take Episcopal Church property with them. Judge Bellows has not indicated when he will rule on the 57-9 matter.

In this second phase The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church seek declaratory judgment regarding the property, a ruling that requires the CANA congregations to vacate Episcopal property, transfer of title and a full accounting of all property.

Filings, motions and other updates can be found in the newsroom on the Diocese of Virginia Web site (http://www.thediocese.net/press/pressroom.shtml) in a special section under the link “Property Dispute.” The newest items are posted on the bottom of the page on an ongoing basis.

Here’s the link to Property Dispute section. There are additional dates to note there:

At the conclusion of the November trial on the interpretation and application of Virginia Code 57-9 to the CANA congregations’ effort to appropriate Episcopal Church property, the judge ordered that each side file three post-trial briefs which restate each side’s argument and also address constitutional issues according to the following deadline schedule: Dec. 31; Jan. 11; Jan. 17. The briefs [Diocese and CANA] will be made available through the links below which will be activated as briefs are filed.

On Thursday, Jan. 10, Attorney General Robert McDonnell filed a motion to intervene in the dispute to defend Virginia law and oppose the position of The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia. The Judge has asked that the Diocese and The Episcopal Church respond with their position on the motion on Thursday, Jan. 17.

The Lead’s coverage of the Attorney General’s motion is here.

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