Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
March 31, 2011
Ruling delayed as plaintiffs
enter new 2,000-page motion

Declaring his intention to sever the claims decided by his Feb. 8 ruling – that all church property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church – so that it can be appealed, Judge John Chupp ended this morning's hearing promising to rule later on the Diocese and Corporation’s Motion to Sever and Stay the case.

“At some point I am going to sever this,” the judge declared.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued strenuously against the severance, asking for “another 30 days” to gather more information about church properties around the diocese. Representing the Diocese and Corporation, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Scott Brister said that no inventory is actually necessary, whether the plaintiffs win or lose on appeal, since all will belong to one side or the other. The judge seemed to agree, saying, “The appellate court will determine whether this is a hierarchical church or not.” Brister promised that the properties will continue to be conserved, saying, “We stipulate that the congregations are bound by your summary judgment.”

filed today
The plaintiffs' newest Motion sits on a conference table.

As the hearing progressed, plaintiffs revealed that, as court was in session, they had filed a supplemental motion for partial summary judgment with supporting documents and amended pleadings – about 2,000 pages in all. This was in addition to a motion filed 48 hours earlier and a last-minute response entered at the end of the day Wednesday.

“We do object to adding new evidence on what has already been decided,” Mr. Brister told the judge.

Cautioning the plaintiffs against introducing new evidence into a case he already has ruled upon, the judge closed the hearing saying he would look at the foot-high filing “by tomorrow” and make his decision.