JOYCE E. WOLTER
S IN THE
DISTRICT COURT OF
V. S HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS
JOE DELGATTO, et
DEFENDANT S 280TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT
PLAINTIFF’S BRIEF IN REGARDS TO
ABATEMENT, STANDING AND JURISDICTION
TO THE HONORABLE JUDGE OF THIS COURT
COMES NOW, Plaintiff and files this PLAINTIFF’S BRIEF IN REGARDS TO ABATEMENT, STANDING AND JURISDICTION and would show the Court the following:
Tort clams for behavior by a cleric that does not require the examination of religious doctrine are cognizable.
Sanders v. Casa View Baptist Church, 898 Fed Sup 1169, 1175 (N.D. Tex 1995)
We do have jurisdiction to review matters involving civil, contract, or property rights even though they stem from a church controversy..
We must apply neutral principles of law to decide such matters so that we do not violate the constitutional prohibition against government established religion.
Libhart v. Copeland, 949 SW2d 783, 793 (Tex App Waco, 1997)
All of the Defendants pleadings having to do with jurisdiction cite cases that are only marginally on point. These pleadings generally state that since the Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA) is a hierarchical organization such that there is an appellate process from the session of Heights Presbyterian Church, to the Presbytery of New Covenant, to the Synod of the Sun and finally to the General Assembly of the PCUSA, this court has no jurisdiction.
First, Plaintiff would show the court that when the Administrative Commission took over in February 2003, the process for appealing to the Synod was suspended because many of those appeals must be approved by the session (which has been suspended by the Administrative Commission) before they go to the Synod. Therefore, there is currently no appellate process open to any HPC member complainant per the Book of Order contrary to the affidavit of the Lynn Johnson, Stated Clerk of Presbytery of New Sun, Defendant.
This makes sense because the Administrative Commission is in charge and it would be redundent to have an appeal going on while the Administrative Commission is investigating.
That being said, the most glaring flaw in the Defendants’ pleas to the jurisdiction is that Defendants Tom Lord, Rose Marie Hammond and Gene Head are not members of HPC. These are co-conspirators with various defendants who are members of HPC. The Presbyterian Church has no authority over these individuals. All the PCUSA can do is absolve members and officers of the church of wrong doing within the church. It has no jurisdiction regarding their civil torts and their conspiracies with non members to the detriment of the church and its member victims.
In every case that has been quoted by Defendants to date, there has been a question before the court that was contained within the members of the various church parties to the appealed lawsuits. None of those citations had to do with fact patterns where the church members and minister were alleged to be in collusion with individuals who were not members of the church for the purposes of perpetuating fraud and theft of church assets.
Obviously, the Presbyterian Church has no authority over non members and cannot resolve matters of fraud and conversion that have to do with a conspiracy between members and non members.
For this reason alone, the civil courts are the only forum with jurisdiction over all the parties and any plea to the jurisdiction based on the hierarchal nature of the PCUSA is nothing more than a dilatory red herring to divert the court’s attention.
WorldPeace would show the court that in this area as in many areas of this lawsuit, the attorneys have lied to the court. All the core facts have been skewed to cover up the corruption that permeates the underlying actions of the Defendants.
In his latest pleading, Mr. Brown states that Joyce Wolter cannot act alone as trustee in filing suit because there were three other trustees at the time that she filed suit.
As WorldPeace has already stated to the court months ago, there was a decision not to place all the various church members, about half of the membership, on the lawsuit as Plaintiffs because of the confusion that it would create. However, if that is where the court wants to go with this lawsuit, then so be it.
Anna Faye Bond (deceased) and Defendant Charlie Windham were the other two trustees of HPC at the time the suit was filed. Plaintiff has attached an affidavit from Plaintiff Joyce Wolter stating that Anna Faye Bond was in agreement with Plaintiff in filing this lawsuit. Ms. Bond remained a trustee until her terminal illness required her to resign. Plaintiff’s affidavit (attached) controverts the affidavit of Defendant Windham. Due to the fact that this matter has been abated for the last seven months, the testimony of Anna Faye Bond has been lost.
Further, the local rules of HPC (the by-laws of the Congregation and Corporation) state, to wit: “Though all members of the session except the moderator (minister) shall be trustees of the corporation, the session may designate two (2) members of session to serve as trustees and one member at large to serve for a period of three years…Trustees shall represent the session in affairs of the corporation: and the session shall determine the limits and criteria of such delegated responsibilities.”
This section overrides any case law cited by Defendants regarding the standing of Plaintiff to sue. Per this section, Plaintiff is a trustee not only by virtue of her appointment as such but also by virtue of still being a member of the session. So Plaintiff as member of the session, and a trustee in that capacity, still has standing to sue.
There are no specific church documents regarding the authority of the trustees, particularly with regards to Mr. Brown’s assertion that it takes two of the three trustees to agree to file suit.
That being said, and as per usual for Mr. Brown, he has been caught in another lie to the court. In the first interim report Mr. Brown states that Defendant Trustee Charlie Windham on his own authority, signed HUD documents committing HPC to the Independence Heights Project.
“On May 22, 2001, Charlie Windham, trustee of HPC, signed the Section 202 application of behalf of HPC. The application provided that the “applicant share” was $10,000, with the remaining funds designated as the “federal share”. Mr. Windham also signed other HUD forms in connection with this application: a certification for a drug-free workplace, a certification that HPC had not paid any funds to influence federal transactions, a disclosure that HPC had not engaged in any lobbying activities and a certification that no “officer or director” of HPC had a financial interest in IHP. This application was then submitted for review and approval by HUD.”
Windham did this on his own authority as trustee. Exhibit “A” shows said commitment is not signed by all the trustees and there are no documents from the session or the other trustees authorizing his independent obligation of HPC to the IHP. Mr. Brown says in his first interim report that there were no problems with the IHP. So Mr. Brown has stated that a trustee can act alone.
Mr. Brown cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that Mr. Windham as trustee has authority to act alone and yet Plaintiff as trustee does not.
This past action of a trustee acting alone to obligate HPC to the IHP is proof positive that at HPC it does not require a majority of trustees to act on church business relating to the acquiring and protecting of assets.
As regards to the alleged new trustees, Suzy Cisne and Arlene Boing, and the prior removal of Plaintiff as trustee, there is not a scintilla of proof submitted by Mr. Brown to prove that this happened according to the Book of Order or the by laws of HPC. In fact, there is no document signed by the Administrative Commission removing Plaintiff as trustee. Plaintiff would allege that the appointment of Cisne and Boing is just another arbitrary act by the Administrative Commission as a co conspirator in this matter to convert the assets of HPC and cover up the bad acts in that regard both past and present.
The abatement of this lawsuit was ordered by the court in February 2002, seven months ago, so that the Administrative Commission could investigate the two main issues of this lawsuit: The HUD Independence Heights Project (IHP) and the audit of the church finances.
The Administrative Commission filed an interim report in March regarding the IHP and five days ago filed an interim report regarding the finances of HPC. (Incredibly the second report refused to speak to the finances in the years 1997, 1998, and 1999, the first three years of the corrupt minister’s reign at HPC. The records have either been destroyed by Defendant minister Delgatto as alleged by Plaintiff, or the records reveal theft and conversion of church assets by the Defendants. There is no other reason for the Administrative Commission to have ignored those years.)
Attached as Exhibit “B” is WorldPeace’s response to the Second Interim Report of the Commission.
There is no reason for this lawsuit to be abated any longer. During the abatement, testimony has been lost from trustee, Anna Faye Bond, due to her death and the Administrative Commission has committed HPC to the IHP when that was not the case when they took over in February. This was done without approval from the congregation and was done without WorldPeace’s involvement per the court’s order of December 2002. The project is about half way finished now due solely to the abatement.
By lying to the court, by disguising a June Plea in Abatement as a Status Memorandum, Mr. Brown has furthered the corruption and attempted to cover up the past corruption during the abatement.
The Defendants’ pleas in abatement are dilatory and are bad faith acts that have already seriously disadvantaged Plaintiff and over half the congregation who she represents.
It is imperative that this lawsuit get back on track so the that discovery can take place and the continued cover up and continued theft of church assets can be stopped.
It would be an abuse of discretion, under these circumstances for the court to continue to abate this lawsuit.
Plaintiff prays the court to set a scheduling order and move this lawsuit forward, set a show cause hearing for the purposes issuing a temporary order to enjoin the Independence Heights Project and for sanctions against attorneys Reagan Brown and Roy Keezel for their Rule 13 TRCP and Chapter 9 and 10, TCP&RC violations and for such other and further relief in law or in equity as this court deems proper.
John WorldPeace, Attorney at Law
CERTIFICATION OF SERVICE
I certify that a copy of the above has been forwarded to opposing counsel on September 11, 2003.
JOYCE E. WOLTER
S IN THE
DISTRICT COURT OF
V. S HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS
JOE DELGATTO, et
DEFENDANT S 280TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT
AFFIVIDAVIT OF JOYCE WOLTER
STATE OF TEXAS §
COUNTY OF HARRIS §
BEFORE ME, the undersigned authority, on this personally appeared Joyce Wolter, who being by me first duly sworn, on his oath did depose and state as follows:
“My name is Joyce Wolter. I am over the age of eighteen years, have never been convicted of a felony or crime of moral turpitude, and am competent to make this affidavit. I am duly authorized and qualified to make this affidavit. I have personal knowledge of the facts stated herein, and they are true and correct.
Anna Faye Bond, deceased, trustee of Heights Presbyterian Church approved of this lawsuit. I discussed the lawsuit with her on numerous occasions. We did not put Ms. Bond on this lawsuit as a Plaintiff for the same reason that we have not added the thirty plus congregation members who support the lawsuit as Plaintiffs: it would overly complicate the lawsuit.
Further affiant sayeth not.”
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME on this ___ day of ______________, 2003.
NOTARY PUBLIC IN AND FOR
THE STATE OF TEXAS
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