Friday, January 2, 2009

California Supreme Court to rule on Episcopal Church cases

The opinion has not yet appeared on the court's website, but I just received an email message from the court that it has published a notice of a forthcoming opinion. See docket entry here. The opinion, when it is posted, should appear here. Although this case will be decided, in part, according to California law, it may have national impact to the extent it relies on federal constitutional law. Looks like we will not have to wait long to find out how it turns out.


The opinion will be issued next Monday morning, January 5, 2009. The court's announcement today included the following information:

S155094 (G036096/G036408/G036868; Orange County Superior Court – JCCP 4392)
Argued in Riverside County 10-08-08

This case includes the following issues: (1) Should the “principle of government” approach, also known as the “highest church judicatory” approach, be used to resolve disputes between a local congregation and a national church or regional diocese over ownership of church property, or should these disputes be resolved using a “neutral principles analysis”? (2) Was the complaint properly subject to a motion to strike under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16? (3) What role does Corporations Code section 9142 play in the analysis and resolution of church property disputes?

Opinion(s) in the above case(s) will be filed on:

Monday, January 5, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.



Peacemaker Wood

Another tribute to Judge Wood:
The life of a giant peacemaker came to an end Monday with the death of Harlington Wood Jr., who attained the rank of federal appellate judge before health problems brought his remarkable public career to an end.

At 6 feet 4, he was a giant in height, matching precisely the stature of Abraham Lincoln, his lifelong hero and inspiration. He earned the title of peacemaker through his masterful work as head of the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Nixon administration.

A veteran of Army service in Europe in World War II, he was transferred to the Far East Theater late in the conflict. He was selected as one of the officers who signed surrender documents of Japanese forces in the Philippines.

He recognized and protected the right of citizens to protest, but he insisted on policies that avoided bloodshed.

His most notable and courageous service as peacemaker occurred in 1973 when he skillfully forced the Nixon administration to abandon plans to subdue by military force a Native American protest at Wounded Knee, an historic settlement in South Dakota.

When he entered the scene, hostile fire was being exchanged on a daily basis between Indians and local authorities. He told his superiors he would resign his position rather than be a party to forcible takeover by Army units. He was convinced a military assault would lead to a needless massacre.

Wood entered the hostile environment alone and unarmed, then followed through with negotiations that three months later settled the dispute without a shot being fired or a person injured.

As head of the civil division, he also directed plans that kept anti-war protests in Washington, D.C., and at national presidential nominating conventions in 1972 in Miami from becoming violent. He later brought about a peaceful solution of a Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island near San Francisco. . . .
from Paul Findley, "Peacemaker Wood had a remarkable career" State Journal-Register, January 2, 2009.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Looking Up

"Thanks for the adventure -- Now go have a new one!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. R. I. P.

I just received word that Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. died yesterday afternoon in Petersburg, Illinois. It is a tragic loss to all knew him and whose lives were touched by his. Prayers for his wife Cathryn, his daughter Alexis, and his two grandchildren.

Update: Article "Judge Wood Gave Everyone a Fair Shake" and obituary at The State Journal-Register.

A video clip of a 1994 interview is available here. Below is a brief biography prepared for the 2003 American Inns of Court award:

Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. graduated from the University of Illinois in 1942, and entered its School of Law. His legal education was interrupted for service in the United States Army, where he rose to the grade of Major and served in the European and Asiatic Theaters. Upon his return from the service, he returned to law school and received his J.D. Degree in 1948 and entered private practice with the firm of Wood & Wood in Springfield, Illinois.

In 1958, he was appointed by President Eisenhower as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, and served until returning to private practice in 1961. In 1969, he became Executive Head of the U.S. Attorneys; United States Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and in 1970 was named Associate Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice. In 1972, he was appointed by President Nixon to be the Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Civil Division. In 1973, President Nixon appointed him U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois, where he served until 1976 when he accepted the appointment of President Gerald Ford to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Professionally, Judge Wood is most well known for his involvement while serving in the Department of Justice in two separate Native American stand-offs: the first at Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, from 1969 through the summer of 1971, and the second in 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. But his accomplishments and impact as both jurist and statesman include participation in much of the recent dramatic history of the world, which he has circled three times, and include Russia, Outer Mongolia, Europe, Cambodia, Greenland, China, Japan and South America.

Judge Wood is a true native of the Land of Lincoln, and is in fact, one of the country’s most outstanding authorities on the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. He is a former member of the cast of “Forever This Land” at Lincoln’s New Salem State Park, member and former president of the Abraham Lincoln Association, and former chairman of the Lincoln Legals Project.

I am so glad that he lived to see Barack Obama elected President. I can think of none other than Judge Wood, stalwart Republican and Abraham Lincoln scholar, who could have better appreciated the difficult course Obama has set for himself.