Court: Supreme Court of Texas
Opinion Date: June 11, 2021
Judge: John P. Devine
Areas of Law: Personal Injury
The Supreme Court conditionally granted a petition for writ of mandamus sought by the Diocese of Lubbock, as the relator, asserting that ecclesiastical abstention prohibits the trial court from assuming jurisdiction over a suit brought by one of its ordained deacons against the Diocese and that, therefore, the trial court should have granted the Diocese’s plea to the jurisdiction, holding that dismissal of the deacon’s underlying lawsuit was required.
This lawsuit arose out of an investigation by the Diocese into its clergy and the inclusion of the deacon’s name on a list of the Diocese’s clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor, as well as the Diocese’s public statements regarding the list following its release to the Diocese’s public website. The court of appeals concluded that the Diocese’s investigation lost ecclesiastical protection when it related to the issue of sexual abuse, which is not strictly and purely ecclesiastical. The Supreme Court granted the Diocese’s petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to dismiss the deacon’s underlying lawsuit, holding that exercising jurisdiction over the underlying case would encroach on the Diocese’s decision to investigate its clergy consistent with its internal policies.
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