Monday, July 11, 2016


Stand by for news about to break concerning the case of the rival dioceses of San Joaquin. The California state supreme court is expected to rule by Thursday, July 14, on whether it will accept the appeal of the Superior Court decision of 2014. It is possible the court will extend the deadline, but there has been no word about this so far.

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin is appealing to the CA supreme court for review of the May 5, 2014, judgment by Donald Black, of the Superior Court of CA. Black ruled completely and entirely for the Episcopal Church side with sweeping judgments such as "Diocesan bishops are at all times subject to and bound by the Church's Constitution, Canons and Book of Common Prayer." He also said, "Because a diocese is a geographical construct of the Church, it makes no sense that a diocese can 'leave' the Church." Black ordered all assets handed over to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. In all of the five cases of schism, Black's ruling was the strongest on the side of the Episcopal Church.

Black's decision, and order, were put on hold, however, when the Anglican side appealed to the CA Fifth Court of Appeals. That court ruled unanimously on April 5, 2016, in favor of the Episcopal diocese, hence the Anglicans' appeal to the state supreme court.

If the California supreme court refuses to take the case, Judge Black's decision and order of 2014 will stand as the final word. The Anglican diocese will then have to turn over to the Episcopal diocese all of the assets of the pre-schism diocese that it still retains. This would end seven years of destructive litigation in San Joaquin, and end it in a complete victory for the Episcopal Church. It would be the second major defeat for the schismatics, after that in Pittsburgh. Of course, we are all anxiously waiting to see if South Carolina will be the third.

I think it is unlikely the CA supreme court will take this case. The issue was thoroughly adjudicated in the lower court, and reviewed by the appeals court. The decision was clear, precise and unanimously upheld on appeal. Anyway, the CA supreme court has consistently sided with the Episcopal dioceses in the breakaway parish cases.

For more information on this see the Anglican diocesan website's letter of May 13, 2016 here .

If the Episcopal diocese prevails this week, it will be the biggest legal victory for the Church side since the Pennsylvania settlement (Oct. 11, 2011, PA supreme court rejected Anglicans' appeal). The CA action probably will not affect the South Carolina proceedings, however, because the SC supreme court hearing was last September. In all likelihood these justices made their decision(s) soon afterwards and are now in the writing stage.

Stay tuned for imminent news from California. It should arrive by Thursday. I will relay here the news of the CA supreme court's action as soon as possible.