Shield The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth  
April 27, 2010

Appellate court hears arguments
on Petition for Writ of Mandamus


Representatives of the Diocese and Corporation appeared before the Second Texas Court of Appeals today in support of the Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed last November. Also present were attorneys associated with the local TEC diocese. The appellate court panel was headed by Justice Lee Ann Dauphinot; also serving were Justices Ann Gardner and Bill Meier. Seating provided for observers was full, and several latecomers were obliged to stand.

Each party had 15 minutes to present its case, with an additional five minutes for rebuttal by the Diocese. There were no surprises in the arguments made to the justices, who posed questions to each side.

Scott A. Brister, representing the Diocese, argued that the question of name identity can be decided on neutral principles of law, without reference to church doctrine. As a practical matter, both parties cannot have the same name, he said, because it makes any ruling in the case confusing and ineffective. The plaintiffs, he said, “filed this suit as [if they were] the diocese formed in 1983, and that's not them.”

Frank Gilstrap, of the Arlington, Texas, law firm Hill Gilstrap, countered that the court must defer to the decisions of TEC, which, he said, has sole authority to name the diocesan bishop and the trustees of the Corporation. “All the court can do is accept the church's decision,” Gilstrap told the justices.

A ruling will be issued at a later time. By the court's order, all proceedings in the case remain stayed.


Listen to the entire hearing online.