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posted Jun 15, 2016, 2:30 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Nov 30, 2019, 3:01 PM by joan bonaparte ]

 
In a nearly two and a half hour hearing Tuesday morning at the Orangeburg County Courthouse, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson heard arguments on both sides for a variety of motions currently before his court relating to the South Carolina Supreme Court majority decision in favor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (also known as The Diocese of South Carolina) on August 2, 2017.

Attorneys for the disassociated diocese focused primarily on the Motion for Clarification of Jurisdiction and Other Relief they filed on March 22, 2018, with a supplement filed in September 2018. They sought clarification on the Supreme Court’s majority opinion that the 29 parishes named in the lawsuit did “expressly accede to the Dennis Canon,” and told the judge that if he ruled on that motion, all of their other motions before the court would be “moot,” including the Betterments case.
 
Mary Kostel, Chancellor to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, pointed out the evidence provided in the original state trial which supported the assertion that the 29 churches did in fact accede to the Dennis Canon, and that the South Carolina Supreme Court used in rendering their majority opinion that agreed to the same.
 
As Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. noted, on the issue of parish property, the majority of the Supreme Court – Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Pleicones, and Justice Hearn – held that the parishes that acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon (within the Church’s Constitution and Canons) hold their property in trust for the Church and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. And, furthermore, that Chief Justice Beatty concluded that the parishes’ written accessions were “sufficient to create an irrevocable trust” under South Carolina law.
 
Chancellor Tisdale focused his arguments primarily on the Enforcement Petition filed in May 2018 (the Amended Petition from May 16, 2018, can be viewed here) and offered case law to support that since the case was sent on remittitur to Judge Dickson, it cannot be reheard, relitigated, or reconsidered. While the attorneys for the disassociated diocese made much of the 2-2 decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court not to rehear the case in November 2017 as being ambiguous or unclear, Chancellor Tisdale read aloud the statement signed by all four justices in announcing this denial saying: “Therefore the petitions have been denied, and the opinions previously filed in this case reflect the final decision of the court.”
 
Judge Dickson asked many questions of both sides throughout the hearing, and in the end, he requested that both sides submit proposed orders on the Motion for Clarification. He asked that these orders address “how we got here,” the law of the case, and findings specifically supported by court records. He asked the attorneys to decide together the timeframe to submit the proposed orders.
 
 “That was the most substantive hearing we have had to date with Judge Dickson on this case,” said Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. 
 
During the 229th Diocesan Convention today, the following people were elected:
 
Standing Committee
Lay: Alison Davidow, Taylor Skardon
Clergy: the Rev. Courtney Davis-Shoemaker, the Rev. Tom Wilson

The Standing Committee met immediately after convention and elected the Rev. Cn. Caleb Lee as its president.
 
Diocesan Council
Lay: Carol Grish, Ginny King
Clergy: the Very Rev. Wil Keith, the Rev. Dr. James Yarsiah
 
Delegates to the 80th General Convention (2021)
Lay Deputies: Andrea McKellar, Mark Szen, Thomas Miller, Deb Harris
Lay First Alternate: Christina Donovan
Clergy Deputies: the Very Rev. Adam Shoemaker, the Rev. Dr. Wilmot Merchant II, the Rev. Roy Tripp, the Rev. Cn. Caleb Lee
Clergy First Alternate: the Rev. Bill Coyne
 
Trustee, University of the South
Jane Hart Lewis
 
The Diocese of South Carolina filed a petition in federal court late yesterday requesting enforcement of the Court’s Order and Opinion and Permanent Injunction issued on September 19, 2019. The petition cited numerous examples that prove continued violations of the Injunction by the disassociated diocese as it “hold(s) itself out to be the Historic Diocese in many respects,” including using a name that is “confusingly similar” to that of the Diocese of South Carolina.
 
Among the cited violations, the Petition to Enforce the Injunction notes that although U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel pointed out in his September 19 ruling that “The Disassociated Diocese is an organization formed in 2012,” the disassociated diocese continues to advertise on its website and social media pages that it was “Founded in 1785” and displays on its website convention journals and materials of The Diocese of South Carolina as if they are their own, even though many are from prior to the organization’s formation in 2012. 

The filing outlines various other violations of the Permanent Injunction including redirecting the web address of the Diocese of South Carolina to their new web address, and that the disassociated diocese’s new name, “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina,” is in fact “confusingly similar” to “The Diocese of South Carolina” as Judge Gergel’s ruling had issued the Injunction to avoid. As noted in the filing, “The Injunction places a heavy legal burden on the Disassociated Diocese not to choose a confusingly similar name, because the Court has already found that Defendants infringed Plantiff’s marks.” Yet, the new name contains the entirety of the historic diocese’s name, adding only one word, “Anglican,” which aptly describes the historic diocese – a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion as part of The Episcopal Church.
 
After explaining the various violations, providing screenshots, photos, and other evidence, the petition asks the Court to take the necessary action to assure compliance with the order, including requiring the disassociated diocese to select a new name for the organization “under the safe distance rule that is so far removed from any characteristic of the Historic Diocese so as to put the public on notice that the two are not related.”
 
In filing the petition yesterday, Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr. expressed a hope that this matter can be settled soon. “We very much agree with Judge Gergel’s ruling on September 19 that ‘the time has come for this dispute to be resolved,’” said Tisdale. “But as we continue to move forward, we also want to bring an end to the confusion caused by the disassociated group claiming the history of the Diocese of South Carolina to be its own.”
 
In the ruling on September 19, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (now recognized as The Diocese of South Carolina) and The Episcopal Church (TEC) on a trademark infringement and false advertising lawsuit filed in 2013, declaring that the group that disassociated from TEC in 2012 (and all affiliated churches) can no longer use the name “Diocese of South Carolina” nor use the “diocesan seal” or “Episcopal shield.”

In his 73-page opinion, Judge Gergel summarized that “the Defendants have every right to disassociate from the TEC and pursue their doctrine and community as they see fit, yet they may not leave with the Plaintiffs' goodwill and marks generated over the course of over two centuries.”




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