Friday, January 12, 2018


There have been two recent developments in the ongoing litigation between the two dioceses. Background:

---Nov. 6-7, 2017. The first round of mediation. Ended early on second day.

---Nov. 19, 2017. Diocese of South Carolina filed a new lawsuit in the circuit court of Dorchester county claiming payments from TEC/TECSC under the "Betterments Statute."

---Dec. 4, 2017. Second meeting of mediation. Ended abruptly.

---Dec. 15, 2017. TEC/TECSC filed a motion in the circuit court of Dorchester County to dismiss DSC's Nov. 19 lawsuit.


---Dec. 27, 2017. DSC filed "Motion to Establish Complex Case Designation." This asked the court for an order "designating this case as complex." It gives an anticipated time to try the case as three weeks.

     (The chief administrative judge (Goodstein) may choose to designate the case as complex, or may hold a hearing before deciding. If complex status is granted, time is guaranteed, and one judge is assigned to handle the case to completion. See here .)

---January 10, 2018. Release of an order given by Judge Diane Goodstein (made December [27?] 2017), as the Chief Administrative Judge of the circuit court of Dorchester County, designating Judge Edgar Dickson as the judge for the case "for administrative purposes."

(Find the two new documents on the website of Dorchester County First Judicial Circuit Public Index, Case # 2017CP1801909.)

Today, Jan. 12, 2018, the third round of mediation occurred. No information about what happened was released. No date to meet again was announced.

Judging from the ongoing litigation in the circuit court, it is reasonable to assume that DSC is choosing to pursue the differences with the Episcopal Church in the courts rather than in mediation.

It seems that Judge Dickson will be handling the case in the circuit court (there are only two judges in the circuit court of Dorchester, Goodstein and Dickson). . He has two motions before him, one is the Complaint from the DSC claiming "betterments." The other is TEC/TECSC's motion to dismiss the DSC suit.

So, what are we ordinary people sitting on the sidelines supposed to make of all this mish-mash of litigation? We are in our sixth year of this legal showdown. With the exception of Afghanistan, the church war in SC has lasted longer than any American war. Speaking for myself, I feel exhaustion and sadness.

There are two big currents going on now, mediation and litigation. I see not one shred of evidence the mediation is working. I see no evidence that DSC wants it to work. I see plenty of evidence that DSC is finding every delaying tactic possible. From my vantage point, I can only conclude the war will drag on and on. Even if TEC/TECSC gets DSC's frivolous lawsuit thrown out of the circuit court, which I think is likely, DSC can kill time by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. By dragging out mediation, as they are doing, they are also delaying the start of the federal trial which will almost certainly have to be moved back months from the original date of March 2018. Mediation has been going on for over three months without the first sign of any progress. In fact, we do not even have a date for the next meeting, or even if there will be a next meeting. However, DSC cannot put off the federal case forever. When that trial finally does occur, DSC stands a good change of losing everything including the 7 parishes now outside of Church trust control. If I were in one of these 7 churches, I would be demanding DSC to cut a deal asap.

It seems to me DSC is fighting to the bitter end in this legal war. They know they have lost the fundamental issue. They are now fighting only a rear guard action delaying the final surrender as long as possible. Their actions since the Aug. 2 SCSC decision have revealed this loudly and clearly. They are throwing up every roadblock and using every delaying tactic available trying to stave off the inevitable. The inevitable will come. They cannot prevent that. And when it does come it is likely to be the end that they made for themselves in their spectacularly bad decisions. The casualties will be the people-in-the-pews who put their faith in leaders who failed them.