Thursday, May 09, 2013

Observations of the Quincy Trial, April 2013

Now that proceedings are concluded, I wish to share such portions of the transcript as are currently available. Reading what I actually said is a salutary reminder of how new the adversarial process is to me; it's far removed even from a stormy academic debate.

First we have Allan Haley's attempt - on behalf of the Diocese of Quincy (ACNA) - to set the history of TEC in a broad context on April 9:

Then we have Mary Kostel's cross-examination on behalf of TEC on April 10:

Finally we have a most intriguing report by Mike Romkey of my academic counterpart, Dr. Robert Bruce Mullin, on the stand on April 30:

Chatting during recess, Father Stone remarked that Mullin was a formidable witness he would not want to take on in court. As Runyan began his cross-examination of Mullin, it became evident that it would be equally uncomfortable to be in the witness chair with the South Carolina lawyer asking questions.

Runyan wore a black suit with a red power tie. He looked directly at the witness and often smiled as he asked detailed questions that tended to present lots of detailed information before asking Mullin whether he agreed or disagreed, or whether in his estimation a statement was true or false. His questioning tended to work around the edges of issues, gradually accumulating information that would lead to an overall conclusion. He worked to bring the witness along with him, following Mullin's answers by remarking, "All right," or "OK then," before going on with his next question. Runyan started off quizzing Mullin on how much money TEC had paid him for expert testimony. Was accurate, Runyan asked, to say that TEC had paid Mullin nearly $900,000 for testimony going back to 2007. Mullin said it was. Mullin said he has an arrangement to be paid $15,000 per month to even out the payments.

Runyan asked Mullin about his practice of annotating bills to keep track of on what he had spent research time. Runyan then put up a slide showing Mullin's billing for his research into the matter of Episcopal Church hierarchy. The billing was concentrated in two years after Mullin became TEC's expert witness. Runyan asked if the slide showing when Mullin's researched focused on hierarchy was accurate. Mullin told Runyan the slide looked about right.

Had Mullin published any peer-reviewed papers on Episcopal Church hierarchy?

Mullin told Runyan nothing he has written on the subject has been published yet.

Runyan asked if the audience for Mullin's research and writings on church hierarchy had been mainly lawyers and judges?

Mullin said yes, that was case.

Runyan knew Mullin's testimony and affidavit in detail, and in the course of Runyan's questioning, Mullin corrected, amended or qualified several points.

Runyan put up slides quoting constitutions from the Roman Catholic and a protestant church, each containing language explicitly stating those churches' hierarchal natures. He asked Mullin why such language wasn't in the Episcopal constitution.

Mullin said such language wasn't present because it was the accepted sense of things.

Runyan asked Mullin about the word "accession" and what it means.

Mullin said that when individual dioceses acceded to the greater Episcopal Church, they ceded the power to later decide to be independent. The dioceses had the power to act independently while forming a union, but once that association was made, it was permanent.

Runyon asked Mullin what TEC acceding to an international Anglican communion organization implied. It was a different kind of accession, Mullin said, one that did not imply TEC surrendering authority.

Runyan recounted Mullin testimony saying that his survey of 19th century commentary provided "an unequivocal and unanimous view of the hierarchical nature of the church and a lack of independence of its dioceses." With a smile, Runyan said that kind of statement was like waving a red flag in front of a lawyer. He then presented a series of slides from 19th century Episcopal sources that seemed to contradict Mullin.

"Furthermore, each diocese is absolutely independent," one said. Another from 1883 said "certain limited powers" were given to the national church, "leaving the respective dioceses independent as to all matters which concern dioceses only."

Mullin took issue with each statement for a variety of reasons, saying one didn't qualify as commentary, and that others were exaggerations or misrepresentations of what the author intended to say.

Testimony was expected to continue through the week with the possibility things will be prolonged for written and oral arguments over the discovery issues that came up Tuesday. After that, it will be up to Judge Ortbal to sift through evidence and write a decision. It does not appear it will be an easy case to call. The two sides are diametrically opposed in their positions, and each time the one side introduces an opinion represented to be factual, true and probative, the other side introduces evidence to contradict it or throw it into doubt.

As Judge Ortbal said at one point with certain resignation while ruling on an objection, "This trial has been nothing but opinions."

Read the whole thing at Virtueonline.

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