Local Episcopal Parties Submit Proposed Orders to Judge Chupp
On June 24, 2011, the Local Episcopal Parties filed their Motion to Tender Orders with the 141st District Court of Tarrant County. The hearing on the motion is set for Thursday, July 21 at 10:30 a.m., for about ten minutes.
On February 8, 2011, the Honorable Judge Chupp ruled – like courts across Texas and around the nation – that the breakaway defendants who left The Episcopal Church must cease holding themselves out as the Episcopal Diocese and must return historic Church property to the Diocese’s authorized clergy and leadership.
The breakaway defendants want to “supersede” or postpone enforcement of this judgment against them during their appeal by posting a “supersedeas bond,” keeping the local Episcopalians, clergy, and leadership in exile during this period and continuing to use Episcopal property. The breakaway faction has claimed that the only bond they can afford without causing “substantial economic harm” is $0 (in other words, no bond at all), despite receiving roughly $10,500,000 in 2009 revenue at the congregational level alone.
On June 24, 2011, the Local Episcopal Parties submitted their proposed Orders on supersedeas to Judge Chupp. While the Episcopal Plaintiffs are still hopeful that the parties can reach agreement on these matters, if these discussions fail and the Court must rule on the issue, the Local Episcopal Parties have tendered orders that reflect the following findings from the May 19th evidentiary record:
- At least tens of millions of dollars of property are at stake.
- The breakaway defendants have dissipated, transferred, and encumbered Church property during this litigation – including moving funds across state lines expressly to make it harder for the Court to reach, and placing a $3.5 million lien on Church property in favor of “Jude Funding” (a company that was created by a named Defendant on the day of the transaction).
- Defendants failed to provide any competent evidence that a bond would cause them “substantial economic harm.” They failed to provide any evidence at all for 61 of the 62 Defendants in the case.
- Defendants received roughly $10,500,000 in new annual revenue at the congregational level alone in 2009. An individual defendant was able to finance a purported $3.5 million line of credit.
Accordingly, if the breakaway defendants wish to postpone the judgment against them during their appeal, the Local Episcopal Parties’ tendered Order would, in part, require the breakaway defendants to post a minimum supersedeas bond of at least $950,000.00 (which is less than 1% of the insured property value at stake); to maintain the property and keep current mortgage indebtedness on the Episcopal property in their possession; and to limit their spending, transferring, encumbering, or other dissipation of Episcopal funds and other real and personal property. Citing overwhelming evidence in the record, including Defendants’ own testimony, financial documents, and admissions, the proposed order also makes an express finding that the breakaways’ litigation expenses from this matter are not within their “normal course of business” – and thus defendants would not be permitted to encumber or liquidate Episcopal property as a source of payment of those expenses without obtaining leave of Court.