Robinson Bradshaw Wins Church Dispute in Court of Appeals



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Sept. 26, 2016

Julian H. Wright Jr. and Matthew F. Tilley, attorneys at Robinson Bradshaw, secured a unanimous decision from the North Carolina Court of Appeals on the First Amendment grounds of separation of church and state. 

The case involved claims by former church members against the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church and its Parish Council, accusing them of wrongly firing the church’s priest and violating the congregation’s bylaws. The court declined to intervene, concluding it could not do so without wading into ecclesiastical matters of church doctrine and church membership.

“We’re extremely pleased that the court recognized that this was an internal church dispute over which the court should have no jurisdiction,” Wright said in a North Carolina Lawyers Weekly article. “I think the lesson here would be that if you just looked at it very superficially, you could have reached a different result, but if you really dig into the issues here, it became really clear that this was an internal church dispute.”

The article, “COA won’t hear dispute at Charlotte church,” can be found here. A subscription to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly is required to read the article in full. 

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