South Carolina Episcopalians

An Independent Journal of News & Commentary for Anglicans

not affiliated with the Episcopal Church or its dioceses

September 24, 2018
Breakaway Lawyers Still Resisting the Inevitable, as Both Sides Submit Final Briefs to Judge Dickson

Orangeburg judge finally moving forward on hearing over implementation of August 2017 state Supreme Court ruling

Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson was given the task of  implementing the August 2017 state Supreme Court decision that ended Mark Lawrence's aborted schism early in the summer.  However, that has not stopped breakaway lawyers from pummeling the Orangeburg jurist with demands that he overturn the parts of that decision they don't like. 

In routine filings with Dickson today, Lawrence's lead attorney Alan Runyan continued his attacks on the Court majority, using quotes from the opinions of the losing side to hammer away at what he says is a ruling that is too vague to be enforced.   He wants another bite at the apple, and he is demanding that Dickson give it to him.


Read Runyan's argument to Dickson

There was nothing new in Runyan's arguments, and Dickson has given no hint that he intends to second guess the Supreme Court.  Runyan's points were presented to the high court in the fall of last year when he unsuccessfully petitioned the justices to rehear the case.  They were also part of the breakaways' failed appeal to the United States Supreme Court.


Church attorneys want to move on with implementation


Meanwhile, in its filings, the legal team for the Church and its continuing Diocese in South Carolina repeated its earlier requests to Dickson to move forward with the return of Diocesan assets and property along with that of 29 parishes that tried to leave the Church with Lawrence.


Church lawyers want a full audit of of each parishes finances and a full accounting of property and possessions to determine what belongs to the Church and what belongs to others.


Betterments: Congregations should not pay for nuisance lawsuit


The Church is also asking Dickson to dismiss a nuisance lawsuit brought by Lawrence and his followers under the state's obscure Betterments statute.  Lawrence wants congregations once-loyal to him to be compensated for "improvements" they made to parish properties while they mistakenly thought they owned them. 


It is just another waste of money that lay people in the Lawrence crowd don't seem to mind paying for. 


Only defendants who lost a lawsuit can even file a claim under this statute.   The Lawrence people were the plaintiffs in his lawsuit, not defendants.  They also don't seem to realize that the Church has never disputed their ownership claims to their parish property.   In the Episcopal Church, a congregation owns its property, but that ownership is contingent on their operating it for the benefit of the Episcopal Church. 


The Church's position has always been that it is that "trust" relationship that the breakaways have violated ... not that they didn't own their own parish buildings.  If these congregations want compensation under this law, they will have to sue themselves.  Hey folks, wake up out there!


Read the filings which have kindly been posted on the Diocesan website


Dickson requested today's filings in anticipation of a hearing in Orangeburg sometime in late October