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SCOTUS denies Indiana church dispute

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The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to take an Indiana case involving a property and trustee election dispute between the Zion Temple Apostolic Church in Gary and the son of the deceased founding pastor.

An order released Monday morning shows that the justices refused to grant certiorari in the case of David A. Garmon, Sr. and Kenneth E. Garmon, Sr. v. Donsero Reynolds, No. 11-466.

The appeal follows a 33-page, unpublished memorandum decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals on March 31, 2010, which held that now-retired Lake Circuit Judge Lorenzo Arredondo correctly ruled on a case stemming from church happenings dating back two decades.

One of the founder’s sons was appointed as trustee, and after his father’s death in 1991, the trustee left and later returned to the church. The trial judge found that the trustee election held by the succeeding pastor was not legal, and as a result, quiet title deeds to the founding pastor’s property were not valid. But the judge found the surviving son’s actions to transfer parcels to a private trust also weren’t valid because he breached his duties as trustee by leaving the church after his father’s death and not acting in the organization’s interests.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge’s decision, and the state justices later denied transfer in early December 2010. A petition for certiorari was filed with the SCOTUS in October.

 

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