Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NB church submits third request for property ownership

From Newport Beach-

Attorneys for a breakaway Episcopalian congregation in Newport Beach are asking the California Supreme Court a third time to help them be declared the owner of their church, instead of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Members of St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach split with the national Episcopalian Church when local leaders felt the mother church was straying too far away from traditional Anglican teachings on homosexuality and theology.

The most ruling against the congregation came March 26, when the Fourth Appellate District, Third Division, reaffirmed in a 2-1 decision that the L.A. Diocese owns the church property at 3209 Via Lido.

An attorney for the diocese said “the California Supreme Court has decided the matter on two prior occasions and determined unequivocally that the property belongs to the Episcopal Diocese.” Attorney John R. Shiner said “the Court of Appeal recently ruled in the same fashion, after hearing the same arguments, that St. James intends to present to the California Supreme Court.”

The church’s attorneys argue that St. James leaders have been denied their constitutional rights to due process because they have not been granted a lower-court trial on the merits of their case.

“We are asking the California Supreme Court to correct the injustice of the majority’s opinion,” said St. James’ attorney Eric Sohlgren. “Imagine being hauled into court as a defendant in a lawsuit and being able to quickly end the case on the ground that the plaintiff has not alleged that anything you did is unlawful.”

St. James prevailed in the first legal skirmish with the diocese in 2005, when Orange County Superior Court Judge David Velasquez sided with its claim to the property and rejected the diocese’s lawsuit to evict the congregation.

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