Property Recovery Litigation 2006 – 2014

News and documents related to the 2006 – 2014 property dispute are listed in chronological order, with the most recent postings toward the top of the page. 

2010-2011 Trial Phase / Appellate Phase / Initial Trial Phase

2013 Appeal Phase: Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court of Virginia Opinion

2012 Appeal Phase

 2010-2012 Trial Phase

Post-Opinion Motions

Final Opinion

Post-Trial Briefs


Procedural and Discovery Motions

Judge Bellows ordered additional briefing on three issues: whether the CANA congregations may now demand a jury trial, various issues on the scheduling and order of the upcoming trial, and whether Church of our Saviour, Oatlands will have a separate bench trial.

Scheduling Order Pleadings

 Appellate Phase

Briefing on the Merits

Petition Process

Initial Trial Phase

Special Committee Report on Proposed Protocol for Departing Congregations (September 2006)
This report was received by the Executive Board in 2006. No further action was taken.

CANA Court Petitions
CANA court filings seeking to take property under Virginia Code Section 57-9.
This is the petition filed by The Falls Church, Falls Church, seeking a declaration that real property belongs to the congregation. Each CANA congregation filed virtually identical petitions.

Opposition to the CANA petitions
Motion to Intervene (Diocese)
This motion was filed against Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands, (COSO) the only one of the 11 congregations not to consent to the Diocese and the Episcopal Church defending their interests in the case. COSO eventually dropped its opposition, and the motion was removed from the docket.
Answer to Petitions (Diocese)
Answer to Petitions (Episcopal Church)

Original Complaint (Diocese)
This is the complaint filed by the Diocese a month after the votes at The Falls Church, Falls Church. The complaints filed against the 10 other churches are substantively identical.
Original Complaint (Episcopal Church)
This is the complaint filed by The Episcopal Church a month after the votes at The Falls Church, Falls Church. The complaints filed against the 10 other churches are substantively identical.

Demurrers and Pleas in Bar (CANA)
This was the initial filing by each congregation, seeking to have the Court dismiss the Complaints. This is the filing of Truro, Fairfax. The filings by the other 10 churches were basically identical.

Brief in Support of Demurrers and Pleas in Bar (CANA)
Brief in Opposition (response to CANA brief) (Diocese/Episcopal Church)
Reply Brief (CANA)

Court Orders
Overruling the Demurrers and upholding the relevance of the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese.
Removing Named Individuals from Complaints without prejudice and providing that they are bound by rulings in these cases (agreed upon by the parties).

Answers and Counterclaims (CANA)
After the Court overruled their demurrers, the congregations filed answers to the Diocese’s Complaints and related counterclaims.

Diocese’s Responses to Counterclaims
Answer & Demurrer
Supplemental Answer to 57-9 Petition

Trial Regarding Virginia Division Statute (Va. Code § 57-9)
By agreement of the parties, the Court determined that it would first address issues related to the applicability and interpretation of the Virginia statute under which the congregations claim to be entitled to the property.  The trial is scheduled for trial November 13-15, 19-21, 2007.

Court Ruling on Scope of 57-9 Trial
Excerpts from the transcript of the September hearing on the scope of the November trial outline the Court’s position after hearing oral arguments from attorneys for the CANA congregations and for the Diocese and Episcopal Church. In summary: the trial will focus on the interpretation and application of Virginia Code section 57-9 and definitions of terms contained in the statute including “division,” “branch,” “attached,” and what it means for a church to be hierarchical within the framework of that section of the Virginia code.

Court Order in re Evidence on the title to real and personal property
On Oct. 26 the Court ordered that the November 57-9 trial will not involve evidence on the title of the real and personal property at issue.

CANA Witness List
The Diocese of Virginia Witness List

Post-trial Briefs
At the conclusion of the November trial on the interpretation and application of Virginia Code 57-9 to the CANA congregations’ effort to appropriate Episcopal Church property, the judge ordered that each side file three post-trial briefs which restate each side’s argument and also address constitutional issues according to the following deadline schedule: Dec. 31; Jan. 11; Jan. 17. The briefs will be made available through the links below which will be activated as briefs are filed.

Attorney General Moves to Intervene
On Thursday, Jan. 10, Attorney General Robert McDonnell filed a motion to intervene in the dispute to defend Virginia law and oppose the position of The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia. The Judge has asked that the Diocese and The Episcopal Church respond with their position on the motion on Thursday, Jan. 17.

Court Issues Initial Ruling on Applicability of 57-9(A)
On the evening of April 3, 2008 the Circuit Court of Fairfax County issued a letter ruling on the applicability of Virginia Statute 57-9(A). The court found in favor of the CANA congregations but explicitly did not rule on constitutional or property issues.
Letter Opinion and Order on the Applicability of Virginia Statute Sec. 57-9(A)

Motion to Proceed with Discovery

Supplemental Briefs in Preparation for May 28 Hearing

Amici Participation Filings

Additional Interpretation Issues Regarding the Division Statute

Court Issues Opinion on Division Statute Constitutionality and Other Statutory Issues

Initial Ruling on Scope of October Trial

Court Finds Contracts Clause Inapplicable; Denies Diocese’s Assertion of Waiver by CANA Churches

Pre-Trial Briefing Regarding 57-9 Voting Issues

Litigation Determining which Property is Subject to CANA Congregation’s Petitions

Truro, Fairfax

St. Stephen’s, Heathsville

Church of the Word, Gainesville

The Falls Church

Court Issues Final Order; Diocese Prepares for Appeal (December 19)