Bruno wins in California Superior Court

by Jon White

The conflict over the fate of St James the Great in Newport Beach, California has taken another turn in Orange County Superior Court.  The restriction in the deed to the property which stipulated that the property should be returned to the original donors unless the property was used for a church has been nullified.  However, the diocese has also been ordered to pay $108,182.51 in legal costs for the other side.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“In the judgment, dated Tuesday, [Judge David] Chaffee said, “The court further decrees that the restriction in the 1945 grant deed that the property ‘shall be used for church purposes exclusively and no building other than a church and appurtenances may be erected, placed or maintained thereon’ (the ‘use restriction’) is released and/or is otherwise unenforceable and invalid, and Griffith has no interest that is adverse to the church in the property.””

 

This case had three Causes of Action; Quiet Title, Declaratory Relief, and Slander of Title.  The judge ruled in favor of Bruno on the first two, but the defendants, Griffith company prevailed on the third which entitled them to the judgment to recover attorney’s fees.  There is no word yet on whether or not Griffith Company will appeal.

 

This ruling, as it pertains to this particular situation however, may be moot.  The Bishop has been ordered by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops and the Presiding Bishop to not enter into any sale while the matter of Bruno’s conduct is still being adjudicated by the Church.

 

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Professor Christopher Seitz
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Professor Christopher Seitz

I don't disagree Marshall. My point is that +Bruno cannot be constrained by Title IV when it comes to conveying property. And I also agree with Paul Powers' additional point on this matter. If TEC wants to create a top down hierarchy which would prevent this sort of thing, it will have to think hard about the role of a Bishop and a Diocese and get them all to agreeto it. Ttile IV is reaching its limits here in respect of the Bishop of LA.

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Paul Powers
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Paul Powers

Now that this remaining secular barrier has been removed, the purchasers might be able to compel +Bruno to close, if they want, orders by the PB and Disciplinary Board notwithstanding.

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Eric Bonetti
Member

If only +Bruno would focus on the people, versus the property.

And suing those who donate to the church rarely engenders additional support, either from the original donor, or from others who may be contemplating similar generosity. In sum, at best a Pyrrhic victory for +Bruno.

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Member

Christopher, perhaps "moot" is too strong. As I noted in an earlier post, there is the question of what Bishop Bruno can do, and what consequences from the church he is willing to except. This decision determines some part of what he can do, but perhaps not what he will do.

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David H. Johnson
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David H. Johnson

What is the role of Title IV, Canon 19, Sections 1, 2, and 3 in this matter? Do those provisions not apply?

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Prof Christopher Seitz
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Prof Christopher Seitz

"This ruling, as it pertains to this particular situation however, may be moot."

In specific legal terms, how so? Is the assumption that the buyers will walk away? After this ruling one might wonder why.

In earlier posts it appeared possible that +Bruno had already decided he didn't care what ecclesiastical judgment might be rendered as he regarded Title IV powers unrelated to his legal authority in CA.

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