Jump to content
Seriously No Politics ×

Update on Huntsman Lawsuit: Ninth Circuit Reverses Trial Court


Recommended Posts

On 4/5/2024 at 12:54 PM, Tacenda said:

I wonder, if anyone has the where with all, how much money does the church earn from interest alone from the Ensign Peak account. And if it's a lot, could that possibly go to feed the poor and hungry or provide shelters, or more help for those that are in extreme poverty. Or even, helping keep the world from destruction. 

If you go the The Widow's Mite here https://widowsmitereport.wordpress.com/2023update/ you can glean a lot of info.  I think these people are pretty reliable. They estimate the church increased its wealth by $29 billion.  That is a combination of excess tithes, growth in value of stock portfolio and likely some interest and dividends.  But as @Benjamin McGuirenote a lot of the investments are in equities and bonds.  Though those are easily liquidated to make cash available for humanitarian aid.  So out of the growth last year the church gave about $1.2 billion to relieve human suffering while their non operating assets grew to $182 billion.

Link to comment
On 4/5/2024 at 12:49 PM, Kenngo1969 said:

That would be the idyllic rolling hills of Kentucky! :D  Does Kentucky have idyllic rolling hills? :huh: :unsure:  @Bernard Gui?  "Bueller?  Bueller?" :D   Perhaps Kentucky has hills, but they are not idyllic.  Or perhaps Kentucky has idyllic hills, but they do not roll. :huh: :unknw: :huh:  Perhaps I shall have, one day, to visit the hills of Kentucky to determine whether they are idyllic and whether they roll!

Kentucky indeed has idyllic rolling grassy green hills with beautiful horses galloping around and fiddlers playing sweet tunes in the hollers. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
Link to comment
20 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Kentucky indeed has idyllic rolling grassy green hills with beautiful horses galloping around and fiddlers playing sweet melodies in the hollers

Amongst whom, of course, no doubt, would be you!   :D :friends:

Link to comment
37 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Kentucky indeed has idyllic rolling grassy green hills with beautiful horses galloping around and fiddlers playing sweet melodies in the hollers. 

Welcome back!  Haven't seen you in a while, must admit I was concerned. 

Link to comment
3 hours ago, manol said:

Welcome back!  Haven't seen you in a while, must admit I was concerned. 

Taking an extended time out, thank you.

Link to comment
14 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Kentucky indeed has idyllic rolling grassy green hills with beautiful horses galloping around and fiddlers playing sweet tunes in the hollers. 

Hey, my favorite inquisitor!!

Check this out. It ain't got a fiddle, but you might like it:

"I'd rather be in some dark holler, where the sun don't ever shine, than to be in some big city, in a small room with a girl on my mind."

 

Ok, now we've got to listen to Vassar Clements on fiddle and Jerry Garcia on banjo singing about those old Kentucky hills (thank you Bill Monroe):

@pogi, you familiar with Old and in the Way?

(dang, this is much better than arguing about money)

Link to comment
16 hours ago, Amulek said:

I've been meaning to say something in response to this but I've been super busy at work and haven't had much time to keep up with the board (let alone post much).

As a believer, I would say that I'm not inherently opposed to more financial transparency, per se. But neither am I bothered by the church's decision to not disclose more than the minimum amount required by law.

Ok.  I suspect most believing members would agree with you.

 

16 hours ago, Amulek said:

And I can kind of understand the church's reticence to say more about its wealth than it does - especially if it's increasing. After all, remember that one time the US government disincorporated the church and seized its assets? So, if one believes popular opinion about religious organizations in general - and the church, in particular - is going to decline in the future, then perhaps it makes sense to play things close to the vest.

So you think because people have a lot opinion of religious groups, and that such opinions will continue to be negative and become more so.  Because of that the Church should keep its finances secret?  I am not sure why it matters either way does it?

 

16 hours ago, Amulek said:

Also, if I'm being completely honest, I strongly suspect that a non-zero proportion of critics who want more information about the church's finances are pressing for that information precisely because they want to use it to influence public opinion about the church. Whether that be to try and raid the church's coffers...I mean, reform the tax law with respect to 'large religious organizations,' or some other means.

You may be correct. And in some cases I am sure you are.  But not all. Really there seems to be a lot of info out their on the church finances. It seems to me that the would  be better off to control the message and data rather than letting others expose what they can.

 

16 hours ago, Amulek said:

And I also suspect critics would like to have the information readily available so it can be referenced, without discovery, when individuals or groups bring suit against the church. I believe this would both incentivize more people to bring suit against the church and put additional pressure on the church to settle early.

That could be true. I do not know what the legal rules are for discovery and what the church would have to disclose in a law suit about its wealth.  But most people already assume the church is incredibly wealthy so to me it seems that they may be better off to disclose and control the message themselves.

 

16 hours ago, Amulek said:

At the end of the day, I am comfortable with the church exercising it's right to disclose information as it sees fit within the confines of the law. In other jurisdictions where the church is required to disclose more information, they do so (see, e.g., here for info about the church in the UK).

If critics in the US want to see the church report more information, they are more than welcome to make their case in the court of public opinion. And if enough people agree, that's what we'll do - though I am doubtful this will change anytime soon.

Probably no change for churches not having to file a Form 990 or anything anytime soon.

 

Link to comment
21 hours ago, Amulek said:

Now, if Deloitte or KPMG (or even EY) were hired to perform an external audit and then produced essentially the exact same report as what we get in Conference now (only, unlike what we currently have, specifically indicated that US GAAP was being followed) I would be more than satisfied. And I believe our critics, at least the ones who know better, would be too.

One more point.  You do not get an annual report from the church. Their two paragraph commentary at one GC per year is not an annual report.  So if KPMG audited the church it would be totally different. And internal auditors roles are very different from the role of an independent auditing firm.

Link to comment
On 4/7/2024 at 9:57 AM, MiserereNobis said:

Hey, my favorite inquisitor!!

Check this out. It ain't got a fiddle, but you might like it:

"I'd rather be in some dark holler, where the sun don't ever shine, than to be in some big city, in a small room with a girl on my mind."

 

Ok, now we've got to listen to Vassar Clements on fiddle and Jerry Garcia on banjo singing about those old Kentucky hills (thank you Bill Monroe):

@pogi, you familiar with Old and in the Way?

(dang, this is much better than arguing about money)

Thanks! I’ve become friends with banjoist Phil Akemon, nephew of “Stringbean” Akemon, banjo player of “Hee Haw” and “Grand Ole Oprey” fame. Stringbean and his wife were murdered in a robbery gone bad back in 1973. Phil, who is LDS,  lives in McKee, about 45 miles away up in the Appalachians.  He and his family own the “Stringbean Memorial Bluegrass Festival.” I get to play with some of the musicians once in a while. They’re the real thing. 
https://www.stringbeanpark.com

“Them Banjo Pickers” (in the style of Mason Williams)

How about them Banjo Pickers, ain’t they raw?

Some usin’ picks, some usin’ claw.

Pickin’ on the five strings, strummin’ on the fours.

Pickin’ on the  front porch, pickin’ out of doors.

 

Look at them Banjo Pickers, ain’t they exceptional?

Learned how to pick that thang in an institute correctional.

Them lickity-splickity Banjo Pickers, ain’t they the slickest?

Pickin’ out them rolls and drones, fingers movin’ quickest.

 

How to be a Banjo Picker? Want some fingerpickens?

Gitcherself a used Gold Tone, then pick it like the ****ens.

Edited by Bernard Gui
Link to comment
Posted (edited)

An update:

Tithing lawsuits from four states against the LDS Church get transferred. Guess where.

Quote

Tithing lawsuits from four states against the LDS Church get transferred. Guess where.

Cases seeking class-action status are now in the hands of a federal judge in Utah, home to the faith’s world headquarters.

This is not unusual, either to have the lawsuit situated where the defendant resides, or to have cases consolidated to where the defendant resides.

Quote

A series of fraud lawsuits filed in multiple states against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over tithing have now been moved to a single federal courtroom in the faith’s home state of Utah.

In the name of justice and legal efficiency, an esoteric panel of federal judges based in Washington, D.C., has ordered four would-be class-action complaints against the church — filed by former or disaffected Latter-day Saints in Illinois, Washington, Tennessee and California — transferred to the Salt Lake City court of U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby.

Multidistrict Litigation are not really "esoteric" (as in "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest").  Any attorney who has spent any appreciable time in federal court will have encountered it.  From Wikipedia :

Quote

In United States law, multidistrict litigation (MDL) refers to a special federal legal procedure designed to speed the process of handling complex cases, such as air disaster litigation or complex product liability suits.

 

MDL cases occur when "civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts."[1] In order to efficiently process cases that could involve hundreds (or thousands) of plaintiffs in dozens of different federal courts that all share common issues, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decides whether cases should be "centralized" under the MDL statute ("centralization" is the JPML's term of art for MDL transfers), and if so, where the cases should be transferred.[2] Cases subject to MDL are sent from one court, known as the transferor, to another, known as the transferee, for all pretrial proceedings and discovery. If a case is not settled or dismissed in the transferee court, it is remanded (that is, sent back) to the transferor court for trial.[3]

It is common for the JPML to learn after ordering centralization of the existence of additional pending actions involving the same or similar questions of fact as the actions it had just centralized. Either they had already been filed but the JPML was unaware of them at the time, or they were filed after centralization. These so-called "tag-along actions" are almost always also subject to centralization once they come to the attention of the panel.[4]

The statute governing this stuff was passed in the 60s, so MDL has been around for a while.

Here is a link to the order consolidated the cases:     IN RE: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Tithing Litigation

This was issued on April 11.  Some excerpts from the order:

Quote

Plaintiff in the Southern District of Illinois Long action moves under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 to centralize this litigation in the Central District of California. 

The "Plaintiff" referenced here is Joel Long, one of the people suing the Church.  He, not the Church, requested the consolidation of cases.  However, he requested that the cases be centralized in California.  I suspect this is for the same reasons as Huntsman likely utilized: forum shopping.  I previously commented on this here:

Quote
Quote

The fact that the Ninth Circuit, of all places, is rehearing this en banc is wild to me. The Fifth or Eleventh, makes sense...but the Ninth?

Yeah, Huntsman was playing around with this, I think. 

Per this article, Huntsman "stopped paying tithing in 2017 and sought the return of previous donations after a 2019 report that a former employee for the church's investment arm had filed an IRS complaint alleging the church should be forced to pay taxes on returns made from invested tithing funds."  The dissenting judge on the three-judge panel made specific note in his dissenting opinion about the oddity of applying California law to this action:

Quote

Why California law applies in this case is perplexing.  The Church, according to the complaint, “is a corporation duly organized and operating pursuant to the laws of the State of Utah.”  And Huntsman only moved from Utah to California on October 31, 2020.  His complaint was filed less than five months later.  But I apply California law nonetheless, as the majority does, because the parties have proceeded under California law.  See Montana Power Co. v. Pub. Util. Dist. No. 2 of Grant Cnty., 587 F.2d 1019, 1022 n.1 (9th Cir. 1978).  

Per this article he moved back to Utah from California around September of last year.  So Huntsman

  • A) Stopped paying tithes in 2017,
  • B) "discovered" the putative misconduct giving rise to his fraud claim in 2019,
  • C) moved from Utah to California in October 2020,
  • D) filed the lawsuit in California in March 2021, and
  • E) moved back to Utah in September 2023.

So the nexus between the "fraud" and California is . . .?

Even the Tribune (!) admits that Huntsman was probably forum-shopping.  From June 2021: Here’s why James Huntsman may have filed his LDS tithing lawsuit in California

Quote

Huntsman, a 50-year-old California resident, is accusing Latter-day Saint leaders of fraud, alleging they “repeatedly and publicly lied” about billions of dollars in member donations, including at least $5 million of his own tithing, money that was meant for missionary work, temple building and charitable projects.

Records show Huntsman has maintained residences in Beverly Hills and the resort community of Coronado in Southern California, making federal courts in the Golden State a logical legal venue for filing a claim involving parties in several states. But there may be additional reasons Huntsman filed there.

“Juries in California’s Central District are liberal in my experience,” said Salt Lake City attorney Kay Burningham, who is pursuing a lawsuit in Utah against the LDS Church on behalf of a North Carolina woman and former member.

The district is also part of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, viewed by some as more liberal and dominated by nominees from Democratic presidents.
...
Huntsman is represented by a Los Angeles law firm, Lavely & Singer, which has an advertised specialty in entertainment litigation. Church officials have also hired L.A. lawyers, from the international firm Jenner & Block, as opposed to handling the matter through the church’s usual law firm, Salt Lake City-based Kirton McConkie.
...
Several tax attorneys have questioned the suit’s merits and likelihood of prevailing, given that Huntsman initially agreed to make his charitable gifts without preconditions. One has called the legal action “performative,” meant more to garner media attention than pressing a legal case.

Anyway, back to the consolidation order:

Quote

The litigation consists of four actions pending in four districts, as listed on Schedule A.  Since the filing of the motion, the Panel has been notified of one related action pending in the Central District of California.1  All parties support centralization2 but differ as to the appropriate transferee district.  Plaintiffs in the Middle District of Tennessee Brawner and Eastern District of Washington Risdon actions support centralization in the Central District of California and, alternatively, suggest centralization in the Eastern District of Washington.  Plaintiffs in the District of Utah Chappell action and defendants the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints3 and Ensign Peak Advisers, Inc., request centralization in the District of Utah.   
...
2  Plaintiffs in the District of Utah Chappell action initially opposed centralization but withdrew their opposition at oral argument.

3  According to defendants, the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was merged into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereinafter, the Church) on December 31, 2020, and is not a legal entity that can properly be sued. 

The disagreement about where the cases should be consolidated is not surprising.

I also think footnote 3 is interesting: "{T}he Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was merged into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereinafter, the Church) on December 31, 2020, and is not a legal entity that can properly be sued."  The "Corporation" can't be sued because it does not exist any more.  I have previously commented on the legal entity/entities that is/are associated with what we think of as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  See herehere, here, here, here.

Quote

On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact and that centralization in the District of Utah will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.  These actions share common questions of fact arising from allegations that the Church falsely represented that tithes paid by its members would be used solely for charitable and humanitarian purposes while instead allowing tithes to accumulate in investment accounts, hiding the extent of its wealth from Church members, and spending tithing monies for commercial purposes.  

Pretty standard stuff, this.

Quote

We select the District of Utah as the transferee district.  It is the logical center of gravity for this litigation.  The Church is headquartered there, and most of the relevant documents and witnesses will be found there.  Both the Church and plaintiffs in the Chappell action support centralization in the district.  Chief Judge Robert J. Shelby, to whom we assign the litigation, is an experienced transferee judge with the ability and willingness to manage the proceedings efficiently.  We are confident that he will steer this matter on a prudent course. 

Again, pretty standard stuff.

Back to the Trib article:

Quote

The five-member Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed in a recent ruling that the five cases share common legal facts. The panel called Utah “the logical center of gravity” for further court review of the disputes — as church headquarters and home to a host of relevant documents and witnesses.

Attorneys for the faith and its investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, which is also being sued in these suits, had both supported consolidating them in Utah.

As noted above, "plaintiffs in the Chappell action" also supported the consolidation taking place in Utah.

Quote

The panel described Shelby, who is now the Utah court’s chief judge, as an experienced jurist “with the ability and willingness to manage the proceedings efficiently. We are confident that he will steer this matter on a prudent course.”

Shelby, who was appointed to the bench by then-President Barack Obama, made headlines in December 2013 when he struck down Amendment 3 of the Utah Constitution, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

The Wisconsin native, who replaced Judge Tena Campbell, also previously presided over at least one fraud case against the church, brought in 2019 by former Latter-day Saint Laura Gaddy, a North Carolina resident.

That suit alleges mail and wire fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, fraudulent concealment and civil racketeering under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.

It is currently pending before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Utah.

Ah, Gaddy.  I had almost forgotten.  What a trainwreck, that one.  IIRC, Gaddy is pending before the Tenth Circuit, having previously been dismissed by Judge Shelby based on, inter alia, the Ecclesiastical Abstention / Church Autonomy doctrine (see here and here).  However, while Judge Shelby has previously cited to, and is therefore obviously familiar with, this doctrine, I am not sure his application of it in Gaddy's lawsuit is going to provide any insight as to how he might apply it to the consolidated cases he will be receiving shortly.  Gaddy was very poorly drafted and argued, and it was painfully obvious that it was a religious dispute dressed up as a civil lawsuit.  See, e.g., here:

Quote

Gaddy's fraud claims relate principally to three of the Church's alleged misrepresentations of material fact:

• Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ during the First Vision;

• Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates inscribed with reformed Egyptian characters using "interpreters" given to him from God; and

• Joseph Smith accurately translated writings from Egyptian papyri about the Hebrew prophet Abraham into the Church's scripture known as the Book of Abraham.

Each of these alleged misrepresentations directly implicates the Church's core beliefs. Because a statement's falsity is an essential element of fraud claims, adjudicating these claims would require the court to do exactly what the Supreme Court has forbidden—evaluate the truth or  falsity of the Church's religious beliefs. This court can no more determine whether Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ or translated with God's help gold plates or ancient Egyptian documents, than it can opine on whether Jesus Christ walked on water or Muhammed communed with the archangel Gabriel. The First Amendment prohibits these kinds of inquiries in courts of law.

As you can see, none of this has to do with tithing, which Gaddy only later brought up when attempting to amend her complaint (see here).  Judge Shelby initially dismissed all of Gaddy's claims except the fraud/tithing one, but in March 2023 he dismissed all of them, including the fraud/tithing one.  However, Judge Shelby differentiated the basis for the dismissal of claims.  As to the other claims (not including the fraud/tithing claim), he dismissed those based on the Church Autonomy doctrine.  On the fraud/tithing claims, though, he dismissed them on separate grounds:

Quote

On March 28, 2023, the court issued a Memorandum Decision and Order dismissing with prejudice the Second Amended Complaint and denying the Third Motion to Amend.  In dismissing the claims, the court concluded all claims relying on the Church’s religious history and teachings failed under the church autonomy doctrine.  The fraudulent inducement claim, based on the Church’s tithing usage, was dismissed for failing to meet the particularized pleading standard required for fraud-based claims.  Plaintiffs’ claim for fraudulent nondisclosure failed because Plaintiffs could not establish the Church owed them a legal duty.  The court next dismissed the claim for “constructive fraud based on a breach of promises of future promises,” as it is not recognized under Utah law.  Plaintiffs appeared to concede their Utah statutory claim, but even still, the court determined the claim could not survive because the statute provided no private right of action.  Finally, Plaintiffs failed to plead the predicate acts required to establish their civil RICO claim.

I would not be surprised if Huntsman's attorneys reviewed Gaddy prior to filing suit, and said amongst themselves "Yeah, let's not do it that way."

In any event, Gaddy does not appear to have specifically or extensively addressed the Church Autonomy doctrine in the context of a fraud claim, which is what Huntsman is trying to do.  

Anyway, back to the Trib article:

Quote

Court motions indicate all parties involved — including plaintiffs, the church and Ensign Peak — had sought for the suits to be centralized under one federal judge, though they differed on the destination.

In addition to asserting similar claims, the cases now grouped before Shelby also all seek to create a class of similarly situated plaintiffs who would join the case.
...

The D.C. panel noted key differences between the cases, as well. Three suits call for a special trust to be created to hold tithing and investment proceeds that the church may have obtained inequitably.

The lawsuit filed by Chappell, in contrast, seeks the appointment of a special master, the panel said, “to monitor the collection, use, and disposition of tithing funds and the proceeds.”

I'm not sure this is a "key difference."  The consolidation order doesn't treat it that way.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
Link to comment
2 hours ago, smac97 said:

An update:

Tithing lawsuits from four states against the LDS Church get transferred. Guess where.

This is not unusual, either to have the lawsuit situated where the defendant resides, or to have cases consolidated to where the defendant resides.

Multidistrict Litigation are not really "esoteric" (as in "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest").  Any attorney who has spent any appreciable time in federal court will have encountered it.  From Wikipedia :

The statute governing this stuff was passed in the 60s, so MDL has been around for a while.

Here is a link to the order consolidated the cases:     IN RE: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Tithing Litigation

This was issued on April 11.  Some excerpts from the order:

The "Plaintiff" referenced here is Joel Long, one of the people suing the Church.  He, not the Church, requested the consolidation of cases.  However, he requested that the cases be centralized in California.  I suspect this is for the same reasons as Huntsman likely utilized: forum shopping.  I previously commented on this here:

Anyway, back to the consolidation order:

The disagreement about where the cases should be consolidated is not surprising.

I also think footnote 3 is interesting: "{T}he Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was merged into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereinafter, the Church) on December 31, 2020, and is not a legal entity that can properly be sued."  The "Corporation" can't be sued because it does not exist any more.  I have previously commented on the legal entity/entities that is/are associated with what we think of as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  See herehere, here, here, here.

Pretty standard stuff, this.

Again, pretty standard stuff.

Back to the Trib article:

As noted above, "plaintiffs in the Chappell action" also supported the consolidation taking place in Utah.

Ah, Gaddy.  I had almost forgotten.  What a trainwreck, that one.  IIRC, Gaddy is pending before the Tenth Circuit, having previously been dismissed by Judge Shelby based on, inter alia, the Ecclesiastical Abstention / Church Autonomy doctrine (see here and here).  However, while Judge Shelby has previously cited to, and is therefore obviously familiar with, this doctrine, I am not sure his application of it in Gaddy's lawsuit is going to provide any insight as to how he might apply it to the consolidated cases he will be receiving shortly.  Gaddy was very poorly drafted and argued, and it was painfully obvious that it was a religious dispute dressed up as a civil lawsuit.  See, e.g., here:

As you can see, none of this has to do with tithing, which Gaddy only later brought up when attempting to amend her complaint (see here).  Judge Shelby initially dismissed all of Gaddy's claims except the fraud/tithing one, but in March 2023 he dismissed all of them, including the fraud/tithing one.  However, Judge Shelby differentiated the basis for the dismissal of claims.  As to the other claims (not including the fraud/tithing claim), he dismissed those based on the Church Autonomy doctrine.  On the fraud/tithing claims, though, he dismissed them on separate grounds:

I would not be surprised if Huntsman's attorneys reviewed Gaddy prior to filing suit, and said amongst themselves "Yeah, let's not do it that way."

In any event, Gaddy does not appear to have specifically or extensively addressed the Church Autonomy doctrine in the context of a fraud claim, which is what Huntsman is trying to do.  

Anyway, back to the Trib article:

I'm not sure this is a "key difference."  The consolidation order doesn't treat it that way.

Thanks,

-Smac

💰 Coming our way. ;) Kidding!!

Link to comment
14 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

💰 Coming our way. ;) Kidding!!

It will be interesting to watch the interplay between this consolidated lawsuit and the Huntsman lawsuit.  As we know, the Ninth Circuit has scheduled an en banc hearing for the week of June 24 in Seattle.  Judge Shelby is in Utah, which is in the Tenth Circuit, so he will not be "bound" by any decision made in the Ninth Circuit.  However, it will be interesting to see which of these proceedings gets to a decision first.  I suspect it will be the Ninth Circuit, since managing the consolidated cases may end up being an exercise in herding cats, whereas the Huntsman lawsuit is already well underway and only has two parties.

I'm sort of speaking out of my ear on this, but I suspect Judge Shelby may pause the consolidated action in Utah to see what happens in the Ninth Circuit, and then proceed.  While he will not be obligated to adhere to the Ninth Circuit's decision, he may well treat it as a "persuasive authority."  What would be really interesting, though, is what would happen if the Ninth Circuit rules in favor of Huntsman, but Judge Shelby rules in favor of the Church.  If the latter happens, I strongly suspect some or all of the plaintiffs in the consolidated action would appeal the decision to the Tenth Circuit, which would then be situated to adjudicate essentially the same issue as is currently pending in the Ninth Circuit. 

I am likely somewhat biased, but I think the Tenth Circuit is, broadly speaking, quite sensible, not particularly "activist" or politicized, and so would likely craft a predictable decision that follows established precedent, which in my view would have the Church as the prevailing party (all things considered, I think the Church has a much stronger factual and legal position).  However, if the Ninth Circuit goes one way (Huntsman wins) and the Tenth Circuit goes another (the Church wins), then we would have a "circuit split," explained here:

Quote

In United States federal courts, a circuit split, also known as a split of authority or split in authority, occurs when two or more different circuit courts of appeals provide conflicting rulings on the same legal issue.[1] The existence of a circuit split is one of the factors that the Supreme Court of the United States considers when deciding whether to grant review of a case.[2] Some scholars suggest that the Supreme Court is more likely to grant review of a case to resolve a circuit split than for any other reason.[3]

Despite the desire of the Supreme Court to resolve conflicts between circuit courts, legal scholars disagree about whether circuit splits are ultimately detrimental or beneficial. Some argue that circuit splits are harmful because they create confusion and encourage forum shopping, while other scholars argue that variation among circuits allows local courts to experiment with new laws that reflect the values of the local residents.[4] Scholars have also observed that regional variations in different areas of the United States have provided certain circuits with a particular specialization or expertise in some subjects of law.[5]

I think a "circuit split" about such an important First Amendment / Religious Liberty issue would be really bad, which means that SCOTUS would be more likely to grant review of one or other cases (or both).

However, my hunch is that things will not go that far.  My current, kind-of-speaking-out-of-my-ear predictions are as follows:

A) The Ninth Circuit will proceed with the June hearing, and the Circuit Court will hold that the Church Autonomy / Ecclesiastical Abstention doctrine prohibits Huntsman's lawsuit.  This is the shakiest part of my prediction, but let's go with it for now.

B) Judge Shelby will either put the consolidated action in Utah on hold pending the Ninth Circuit decision, or else he will proceed with his adjudication regardless of the Ninth Circuit's parallel adjudication.  Regardless, I think he will likely eventually hold that the Church Autonomy / Ecclesiastical Abstention doctrine prohibits the consolidated actions.

C) If A and B are accurate, then I think this crop of lawsuit will die on the vine.  Precedent will have been set, attorneys will be aware, and further lawsuits will either be never filed or quickly dismissed.  Other federal and state courts will promptly adopt the combined precedent from the Ninth and Tenth Circuits.  Also, if A and B are accurate, I think any attempt (by Huntsman, or by plaintiffs in the consolidated action, or both) to seek review by SCOTUS will fail.

D) If A and/or B are not accurate (that is, if the Church loses in one or both actions), then I think there is a good chance of review by SCOTUS, and that SCOTUS would reverse an adverse ruling based on First Amendment considerations.

I may have rose-colored glasses on here, but we'll see what happens.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
7 hours ago, smac97 said:

The "Plaintiff" referenced here is Joel Long, one of the people suing the Church.  He, not the Church, requested the consolidation of cases.  However, he requested that the cases be centralized in California

So it backfired?  Or will be so perceived by the plaintiffs is my guess.  I wonder if some of his fellow plaintiffs are cursing him out under their breath right now. ;) 

Edited by Calm
Link to comment
1 hour ago, Calm said:
Quote

The "Plaintiff" referenced here is Joel Long, one of the people suing the Church.  He, not the Church, requested the consolidation of cases.  However, he requested that the cases be centralized in California

So it backfired?  

Kinda/sorta.  I'm sure he would prefer to have this case heard in the Ninth Circuit rather than the Tenth.  Forum shopping and all that.

1 hour ago, Calm said:

Or will be so perceived by the plaintiffs is my guess.  I wonder if some of his fellow plaintiffs are cursing him out under their breath right now. ;) 

I suspect this (consolidation) would have happened sooner or later.

I am curious whether the Church's attorneys feel consolidation is advantageous.  In a sense, getting potentially conflicting decisions would have substantiated the Church's stated concerns about the risks inherent in these religious-dispute-dressed-up-as-a-fraud-claim-style lawsuits.  Consolidating the various cases mitigates that risk (I am not sure if filed-in-the-near-future cases would be required to be transferred to Judge Shelby as well).  As it is, though, I don't think the Church likes to play around in this way.  It seems to prefer being a conservative, straightforward, just-the-facts-ma'am style of litigant-defendant.  If so, consolidation makes both practical and economic sense for the Church.

Another potential noteworthy item: Judge Shelby was the fellow who, in 2013, nullified - on constitutional grounds - the amendment to the Constitution which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, thus effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah.  It will therefore be difficult for people hostile to the Church to characterize Judge Shelby as being improperly influenced by the Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 9/25/2023 at 7:52 AM, Analytics said:

Thank you for at least partially addressing my questions.

We now know that every year, the church takes in several hundred million dollars in tithing revenue more than it spends. That excess tithing is then donated to Ensign Peak Advisors to be invested. It's curious that members don't seem to have a problem with using tithing dollars to buy stocks and bonds from corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, but do have a problem with using it to buy a mall across the street from the temple.

Curious or not, perhaps it is time for you to stop trying to impute onto us sentiments we do not hold, such as "using tithing to generate interest to build a mall was still using tithing to build a mall."  Particularly when you are doing so in the context of propping up a fraud lawsuit which involves your compatriot impugning the integrity of a man now dead, and whom we Latter-day Saints respected and honored.

And in any event, you are yet again not accurately representing the Latter-day Saints.  You are attributing to us the notion that the Church used "tithing dollars" to "buy a mall."  That is not what happened.  You are not a trustworthy source of information about the Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
Link to comment
On 4/19/2024 at 3:36 PM, Calm said:
Quote

The "Plaintiff" referenced here is Joel Long, one of the people suing the Church.  He, not the Church, requested the consolidation of cases.  However, he requested that the cases be centralized in California

So it backfired?   Or will be so perceived by the plaintiffs is my guess.  

Perhaps.  I suspect Long was, like Huntsman, "forum shopping" and was thinking that a federal judge in California would be more advantageous than one in Utah.

On 4/19/2024 at 3:36 PM, Calm said:

I wonder if some of his fellow plaintiffs are cursing him out under their breath right now. ;) 

That's a possibility.

Thanks,

-Smac

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...