Judge Diane S. Goodstein has advised attorneys that the lawsuit filed against local Episcopalians by a breakaway group remains stayed – on hold – until the state Supreme Court has ruled on an appeal in the case, and the taking of depositions has been halted.
According to an email sent to all parties on April 17 by Judge Goodstein’s law clerk, Angel Isla Daniels, “Because the petition for re-hearing is pending in the Supreme Court, Judge Goodstein has advised that the case is stayed until the Supreme Court has ruled on the matter.”
Attorneys for the breakaway group had been issuing subpoenas in an attempt to compel some 14 witnesses to give depositions this month. Those subpoenas now have no legal effect, according to Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., Chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
Ms. Daniels’ email noted that the judge had received the motion from TECSC for an immediate hearing on the matter. TECSC had asked the judge to take action to stop the groups calling themselves “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and “The Trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina” from abusing the court’s subpoena power. The motion, which is still pending, asks the judge to find the groups in contempt of court and impose sanctions.
“This abuse of process constitutes a pattern of misconduct and wrongful intimidation of those witnesses,” the motion says.
The PECDSC groups are two of the multiple plaintiffs who are suing The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, seeking control of the name and assets of The Episcopal Church’s diocese in the eastern half of South Carolina. TECSC is appealing to gain access to evidence in the case in the form of an estimated 1,200 documents from correspondence between Beaufort attorney C. Alan Runyan and Bishop Mark Lawrence during the period leading up to November 2012, when the breakaway group “withdrew” from The Episcopal Church.
The South Carolina Supreme Court took jurisdiction of that appeal on April 4, but has not yet issued a ruling.