Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As most of you are now aware, late on Wednesday afternoon, TECinSC notified Judge Dickson and our legal counsel by email that they had filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rule and precedents (quoted below) make clear its intended proper use is to compel a “ministerial act” that is normative for an “officer” when no other remedy is available (i.e. requiring the county treasurer to collect taxes).
Several observations can be made concerning this current petition.
- Judge Dickson (contrary to the accusations of judicial failings in this petition) is rightly exercising his duties as a judge and due process is moving forward. This is not the situation envisioned for the use of a mandamus.
- The clear motivation is concern for how Judge Dickson might shortly rule. If the matters before him were as clear and simple to discern as TECinSC again asserts, they would not be attempting such a desperate attempt to avoid a ruling by Judge Dickson.
- It is not believed that a single justice could or would, for a matter this significant, grant a writ. And in principle, Justice Hearn has recused herself from this case. The likelihood of this petition being granted should be quite low.
- The possibility of this being offensive to Judge Dickson is understandably significant. This is a serious criticism of his judicial competence, as exercised in this case.
- This might have other unintended consequences with the Supreme Court, by elevating the case to require their attention.
While an unpredictable turn of events, given its attempted misuse of judicial procedure, it is anticipated that this is only a temporary detour. Legal counsel is responding today with a reply to the assertions made in this petition. Because the nature of the petition itself presumes relatively prompt action, it is not expected that this matter will linger as long as others have more recently.
In the meantime, it continues apt to commend Judge Dickson and the Supreme Court Justices to our prayers that they might indeed, in all their decisions, courageously pursue what true justice demands. Please also keep the legal counsel of the Diocese and its parishes in your prayers. The continued and unexpected demands of this litigation are considerable and they merit our prayerful support.
–(The Rev. Canon) Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina
Canon Jim Lewis’ Letter to the Clergy in the Historic Diocese of #southCarolina about the latest attempted Maneuver by the brand new TEC Diocese in SC in the ongoing Legal Skirmish https://t.co/RDZEEUY35S #religion #lowcountrylife #law #anglican #parishministry #ethics #scscotus pic.twitter.com/LGS4I6pLTB
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) March 22, 2019
(Photo: Canon Jim Lewis (left) with Bishop Mark Lawrence)