Friday, September 2, 2022



On yesterday, September 1, 2022, Episcopal Church lawyers filed two papers with the South Carolina Supreme Court seeking to reverse the court order on two parishes, Old Saint Andrew's, of West Ashley, Charleston, and Holy Cross, of Stateburg. On August 17, 2022, the SCSC issued an order finding that these two parishes owned the local properties because they formed revocable trusts after 2006. State law allowed trusts formed after 2006 to be unilaterally revoked. 

In its first decision, August 2, 2017, the majority of justices ruled that the trusts created under the Dennis Canon were irrevocable. In its second decision, April 20, 2022, the SCSC reaffirmed this point. So, twice the SCSC declared that the trusts were irrevocable and that Old Saint Andrew's and Holy Cross were property of the Episcopal Church.

In its third decision, August 17, 2022, the SCSC ordered that Old St. Andrew's and Holy Cross had made trusts only after 2006 and therefore could, and did, revoke the trusts. The court ordered that the local properties belonged to the local parishes. However, the SCSC did not issue a Remittitur to the circuit court to implement this decision leaving the door open for more consideration by the SCSC.

Episcopal lawyers filed two papers yesterday:

1-"Motion for Relief from Judgment." Find it HERE .

2-"Petition for Rehearing." Find it HERE .

In essence, the Church lawyers asked the SCSC either 1-to reverse its ruling on these two parishes, or 2-to reopen the issue and hold a new rehearing. They produced a good deal of evidence yesterday that both parishes had in fact acceded to the Dennis Canon between 1979 (the Canon's creation) and 2006. This would make their accessions to the Dennis Canon irrevocable and the Aug. 17 decision wrongly determined. 

Much of the confusion in the SCSC and its ruling has to do with the strange fact that the high court is acting as two courts, an appellate one, to review Dickson's order, and a trial one to issue new judgments on the same case after the court had already issued a decision (2017) that had become settled law. The clash between these two courses of actions has produced the chaos we have seen in this court over the past five years. Hence, we now have three different and contradictory decisions from SCSC on the same case. However, by not issuing a Remittitur to the circuit court after the Aug. 17 order (as it did after the April 20 decision), the court has left open the possibility of yet another revision. Of course, a Remittitur itself does not mean much with this court. It has issued two of them and then turned around and revoked them. 

Where is all of this going? Will there be a fourth decision? Your guess is as good as mine. I gave up some time ago trying to predict what this state supreme court would do. In my view they have egregiously denied reason, logic, and settled principles of the state justice system. They have made a mess of this case, perhaps the most important one in the history of South Carolina that any of these justices will ever encounter. To say this is disappointing is an understatement.

Find the Episcopal diocese's announcement of today concerning this development HERE .