The elected officers of the Diocese and Diocesan Corporation were extremely pleased today to learn that the Texas State Supreme Court has granted our motion for direct appeal. The Court has agreed to reconsider the February 2011 decision by the 141st District Court, which would result in the surrender of all property to representatives of the New York-based Episcopal Church.
The Diocese’s written brief is due to be filed with the Court by Feb. 6. The opposing parties may respond by Feb. 27, after which the Diocese will have about two weeks to reply. A hearing date has not been set.
Commenting on the news, Bishop Jack L. Iker said, “We are delighted with the decision of the Texas Supreme Court to grant our request for a direct appeal in the lawsuit brought against us by The Episcopal Church. It is very rare for a direct appeal to be filed in the first place, and it is even rarer for the Supreme Court to grant one. It is clear that the Court understands that key questions of the constitutionality of Texas statutes, trust codes, and property laws are at issue in this litigation.
“It is our hope and expectation that the Supreme Court, using neutral principles of law, will rule in our favor.”
With one Episcopal church property appeal from the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo already before the Court, it is even more significant that the court has moved so swiftly to take up our case. This announcement encourages us to believe that the Court finds merit in our case, and it renews our hope of an early conclusion to litigation that has already consumed almost three years and millions of dollars in legal expenses.
“It is gratifying,” said Fort Worth attorney J. Shelby Sharpe, who heads the diocesan legal team,“ that the court has granted the petition for direct appeal in this critical religious freedom case. We look forward to the court’s ultimate decision, which should be helpful to other courts facing similar issues.”