04 March 2009

Update from the Grace, Colorado trial

Reader "James in Colorado" sent this update on the trial:
Bishop O'Neill was the witness almost all day yesterday. All but 15 minutes was directed testimony with our lawyer.

CANA's defense (or more appropriately offense), has 2 legs (yes, wobbly) One leg is the possible existence of a new corporation formed in 1973 which actually owns the property. O'Neill had nothing to do with this.

CANA's other leg is their statement that "We have alienated and encumbered our property, at will, with no permission from the diocese, for many years. Therefore it belongs to us and no one else." It is true that Grace bought and sold 2 small houses next to the church, and sold a rectory and bought a new one without permission. How would the diocese know if permission wasn't requested? The bishop pointed out that this was a violation of the canons, and then pointed out that they were part of the charges that the diocese brought against Armstrong. Charges, trial, conviction, and punishment.

Then there was discussion of the $2.5 million loan on the renovated Great Hall. This is the result of several smaller loans combined into one. In court, Don bragged how he arranged this with no permission asked of the Diocese. Therefore, more evidence that Grace has always been an independent church affiliated with the Episcopal Church for convenience but not subject to TEC. The Bishop recalled a meeting with Don where he was told that this was the 3rd part of a 3 part renovation, approved by Jerry Winterrowd, back in...........1989. So Don was saying he had had permission of some 15 years. Our lawyer also produced a letter from Don to the congregation stating that permission had not been requested, because it had already been granted. So here with Don, very noticeably, telling the court one thing and everyone else something else. Fortunately the court has now heard both versions.

My Wife just called from the cross-examination, apparently CANA's lawyer is trying to get the Bishop to say that real estate agents and mortgage brokers should be familiar with church canons. Huh?
Thanks, James for this update.

As for the possibility that a 1973 corporation owns the property, I would think that would be negated by the papers signed by Armstrong and the vestry stating the property belongs to the Diocese and National Church. Also, as in New York and California, not objecting to the Denis Canon for 20 years would seem a selling point for TEC ownership of the property.