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Divided justices reject opposing summary judgments in church split

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Neither the trial court nor the Court of Appeals got it right in a dispute between an Evansville Presbyterian church and its former denomination when the church left over simmering disagreements on abortion and other matters of doctrine, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision.

Olivet Presbyterian Church split from Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in 2006 after an affiliation with predecessor denominations dating back more than a century. The denomination, claiming a trust on Olivet’s property, sued after the church declined to relinquish it.

The justices ruled that neither a trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of the church or an appeals court reversal and grant of summary judgment for the denomination was adequate, and sent the case back to Vanderburgh Circuit Judge Carl Heldt.

“We hold that genuine issues of material fact arise from the inferences flowing from the stipulated designated evidence and that neither Olivet nor the Presbytery is entitled to the full relief sought in their respective motions for summary judgment,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote in an opinion joined by justices Steven David and Robert Rucker.

“Genuine issues of disputed fact, resulting from varying inferences possible from the designated evidence, must be resolved at trial rather than on summary judgment,” Dickson wrote.

Justices Mark Massa and Frank Sullivan Jr. dissented without separate opinions, believing the decision and analysis of the Court of Appeals to be correct.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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