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Virginia church property trial phase ends

Virginia church property trial phase ends

The Secretary of the Diocese of Virginia, Mr. Henry Burt, has posted a letter discussing the end of the trial phase seeking to return the seven remaining properties occupied by the CANA congregations to the mission of the Episcopal Church:

From the Diocese of Virginia:

June 8, 2011

Dear Friends,

When both sides rested yesterday in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, it marked the end of the trial seeking to return the seven remaining properties occupied by the CANA congregations to the mission of the Episcopal Church. The trial, which began April 25 and spanned seven weeks, included evidence presented by all parties, including testimony from dozens of witnesses.

Now that the trial phase is over, both sides will make three rounds of legal briefs, which will lay out the parties’ arguments. Once briefing is completed in October 2011, the court will consider the arguments and evidence, and issue a ruling. We do not know when that will occur, as this is a complex case with literally thousands of exhibits and weeks of testimony. As such, I would expect the court to take some significant time to hand down its decision.

Many of you have asked me how trial has gone. It is always unwise to speculate about such things, and I will not do so here. But, having attended all but a few days of the trial, I can say without reservation or hesitation that our trial team, consisting of George A. Somerville, Mary C. Zinsner, Joshua D. Heslinga, and led by Bradfute W. Davenport Jr., did a tremendously able job. Representing the Episcopal Church were Chancellor David Booth Beers and special counsel Mary E. Kostel, who are also to be commended for outstanding efforts on behalf of the Church.

Please do not read into my praise of the trial team’s work a prediction of any particular result. But I believe it is important to share my impression with you, especially in light of the death on the eve of trial of our beloved chancellor, Russell V. Palmore Jr. Russ was a treasured friend and respected colleague of all members of the legal team, both ours and the Episcopal Church’s. All members of the team are to be commended for their ability to forge ahead, and do so very capably, despite this tragic and very personal loss.

As always, please pray for all people affected by this litigation.


Henry D.W. Burt

Secretary of the Diocese


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