|Addendum in light of the Presiding Bishop’s April 30, 2008 Letter to the House of Bishops:|
|Written by Confidential to ACI|
|Tuesday, 06 May 2008|
A defense now proffered by the Presiding Bishop and her supporters is that the same procedures were followed in the recent cases of Bishops Davies and Moreno. Past violations of the canon’s clear provisions are said to justify current ones. In considering this defense, it is necessary to distinguish three senses of “precedent” in legal usage. One is the well-known sense of precedent as a formal ruling on a legal issue by a competent juridical body. This is clearly not the case here as no one has suggested that the prior cases were determined to be canonical by any body reviewing the canonical issues. These cases are not offered as reasoned legal rulings, but as a fait accompli.
The third type of precedent is one that is often encountered in commercial litigation and corporate law. This is when clear contractual or legal duties are repeatedly violated. Here the past misconduct is to no avail absent an explicit waiver. Especially relevant to the current context is a pattern familiar to any corporate lawyer: that of a closely-held corporation that does not follow its own bylaws. Such corporations, owned by one or a small number of shareholders, have many of the same duties in terms of corporate formalities and procedural regularity as public corporations traded on national stock exchanges. Corporate law requires that proper procedures be followed in order for an enterprise to receive legal recognition and protection as a corporation. Often the sole shareholder of a corporation pays no attention to these formalities or the requirements of the corporate bylaws. The business is simply run as the shareholder sees fit.
But when the litigation arises and a hostile party asks the court to disregard the corporate form and permit a suit directly against the shareholder, those past “precedents” of ignoring the corporate rules are to no avail. In fact, the naked “we’ve done it this way before” becomes evidence for the other side, the primary evidence that the corporate form is a sham. The frequent result in such cases is that the law disregards the corporate form --it “pierces the corporate veil”-- and the shareholder’s assets are no longer protected as intended by the corporation. Corporations that seek the law’s recognition must follow the legal requirements and their own rules. Past malfeasance is not a defense; to the contrary it is proof of a pattern of abuse that exacerbates the current violation. It is a supreme irony that Bishop Lamb is now petitioning the California courts to defer to TEC’s polity and recognize him as the bishop of San Joaquin when the clear provisions of TEC’s canons indicate Bishop Schofield has not been lawfully deposed.
What you see above is the entire addendum, but here's the link to the source. The original memorandum can be seen here.