December 16, 2002
JEFFERSON CITY — Another court decision has gone in favor of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) in its legal battle with five of its breakaway entities.
Cole County Circuit Court Judge Tom Brown refused Dec. 2, to quash the subpoena request submitted by MBC attorneys, asking the court to require W. Bart Tichenor to testify and produce certain records.
Tichenor, former MBC attorney who is supporting the cause of the five renegade convention agencies, had filed a motion to prevent MBC attorneys from deposing him and gaining access to documents that may be relevant to the case. If the judge had gone along with Tichenor’s request, he would have been immune from giving testimony or producing documents.
Tichenor’s motion claimed that there are documents in some instances and in other instances the documents should be protected by the attorney-client privilege. The MBC legal team is seeking information that was generated out of Tichenor’s relationship with Jim Hill, former MBC executive director.
At the brief court hearing, Brown asked Tichenor what was the basis of his motion to quash. When Tichenor replied that the documents did not exist, Brown replied that was not a sufficient "reason to quash."
"If the judge had granted Bart’s motion, we might have been precluded from asking questions about these documents, but Bart lost," said Mike Whitehead, the Kansas City attorney who is heading the MBC legal team."
What this means, Whitehead explained, is that "we get to take his deposition and to ask questions about these documents."
Brown told Tichenor that he can still answer at his deposition that the documents do not exist or that they are privileged.
"But if Bart still refuses to answer questions that we believe he must answer or refuses to produce documents that believe he must produce, we can file a motion with the judge to compel Tichenor to answer," Whitehead said.
"The judge would consider the deposition transcript and decide if any documents are, in fact, privileged and protected by attorney-client privilege. The judge could then order Bart to provide the documents we requested and to answer our questions about them."