The litigation in San Joaquin has entered a new phase with the filing of a cross-complaint against the Episcopal Church (USA) by the parties it initially sued last April. The cross-complaint, brought by Bishop Schofield and two diocesan investment entities which he heads (the Episcopal Foundation and the Diocesan Investment Trust), seeks an award against ECUSA for the amount of attorneys’ fees those defendants are being called upon to expend in defending the suit instigated by Bishop Jerry A. Lamb and a group calling itself the “Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin”, and joined in by ECUSA.
The cross-complaint states two claims for relief. The first asserts that ECUSA in effect put Bishop Lamb and his followers up to bringing the lawsuit that was filed in Fresno County Superior Court on April 24, 2008, by making false representations to them that they could be plaintiffs because they were now a genuine diocese of the Episcopal Church who had met in a legitimate “special convention” the previous month and elected a bishop. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, convened the special convention herself, and proposed the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, the resigned (retired) bishop of the Diocese of Northern California, to be its “provisional bishop”. After it concurred, the convention proceeded to adopt resolutions authorizing him to claim ownership of the corporation sole that holds title to diocesan real property, and to file the present lawsuit against Bishop Schofield and the investment entities, which manage the funds belonging to the diocese.