MBC win confirmed by Court of Appeals
August 4, 2005
Kansas City – The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) won yet another ruling from the Missouri Court of Appeals on Aug. 2, when the court denied motions for rehearing or transfer filed by the five breakaway agencies.
The Court had ruled in favor the Convention in an order dated May 30, and the five agencies then filed motions seeking rehearing by the court of appeals, or transfer of the case to the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City. In an order signed by the Clerk of the Western Division in Kansas City, the court refused to grant a rehearing of the case before the same three-judge panel, or the full court en banc. Furthermore, the appeals court refused to transfer the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. The court did not comment on its reasons, but summarily denied the agency motions.
“The Court of Appeals has heard enough of the agencies’ procedural mind-games, about the Convention lacking standing because it doesn’t exist,” said Michael Whitehead, MBC legal counsel. “As we expected, the Court did not want to hear a re-hash of the arguments of April 20. The court wants the trial judge to move ahead with this case, to reach the real issue: does MBC have the right to enforce the charter promises that MBC shall elect trustees of these agencies?”
The agencies have 15 days within which they may file yet another motion in the Missouri Supreme Court, asking that court to intervene, but past history would suggest that the Supreme Court is unlikely to grant an appeal at this stage in the proceedings. “After the case has been tried, and final judgment entered, the Supreme Court may choose to review a case, but this case has not even been to trial yet,” said Whitehead. “They won’t want to hear pieces now, and then have to hear other pieces of the case after trial.”
“We wish the agencies would stop dragging this out, with all their procedural motions, but history would suggest that they will continue use every procedural delay they can,” Whitehead added. “They just don’t have much to say when it comes to the substance of the case, so they will keep trying to talk about procedural arguments to delay things. But Judgment Day is coming, and they will have to answer for their wrongful breakaway.”
Once the Missouri Supreme Court appeal is denied, the appeal case, MBC I, will be consolidated with the recently filed petition, MBC II, also pending in Cole County. Whitehead said some limited discovery is still underway in MBC II, including the scheduling of depositions of Dr. Jim Hill, former Executive Director of MBC, who now serves as Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, the competing convention which is aligned with the breakaway agency leaders.