Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses v. Randy Wall

by TerryWalstrom 57 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • TerryWalstrom
  • Pete Zahut
  • zeb

    Cant connect whats it about please.

  • smiddy3

    Isn`t this the same as "For those wanting to view history " by search ? a court case in Toronto Canada ?

  • OrphanCrow

    Smiddy3, this is a link to a Supreme Court hearing in Canada.

    A news article concerning the case:


    A link to the factums of the case:


    The webcast of the appeal hearing (3 hours 24 minutes long):


    I watched the webcast yesterday and was going to make a couple comments on the other thread that is posted about this, but it appears like that thread has somehow unraveled.

    I want to watch this again because there is a lot to digest and process. But, a couple things about the webcast - the lawyer representing the Highwood congregation presents the congregation in terms that diminish the perception of the congregation's importance. Near the beginning of the webcast, David Gnam lowers his voice and in humble, small soft tones, presents the congregation as "a small, unincorporated religious organization". But, the elephant standing at the podium is this: David Gnam is a lawyer for Glen How and Associates - the big gun JW lawyers who travel all over the world representing the BIG organization that the "small unincorporated religious organization" takes their orders from.

    Another spot that grabbed my attention occurs at 3:03 of the webcast. What is happening at this point is that Gnam is giving the reply for the congregation where he is responding to submissions by the other lawyers. At this spot, one of the Supreme Court judges questions Gnam about the elder's handbook.

    Listen to David Gnam LIE at 3:04:21 and then try to shuffle around and make excuses for the secrecy of the elder's handbook. He goes into an explanation of the baptismal process and refers to the congregant's handbook of baptism. He never does give a straight answer. I don't think he was able to win that judge over.

    And then...at 3:09. This is news to me. Apparently the "judicial hearing" the "judicial committee" and the resulting judicial action of the elders of the JWs, is "not a court". It is a "pastoral meeting".

    Huh. Who knew. The things you learn from the learned David Gnam, the JW lawyer.

  • John Davis
    John Davis

    I agree with OC that the justice seemed concerned with if members know the rules of the organization for a fair hearing to be conducted.

    I still think that Mr. Walls attorney had a much steeper hill to climb to win before this court and the oral arguments but I think that the ruling will be a mixed bag.

  • OrphanCrow
    JD: I still think that Mr. Walls attorney had a much steeper hill to climb to win before this court and the oral arguments but I think that the ruling will be a mixed bag

    Yes, Mr. Wall's attorney, Michael Fedder, came late to the party. He fumbled a few times because of that and he did have a formidable task to address. And it should be formidable - this ruling has the potential to affect many organizations and it could have far reaching consequences.

  • John Davis
    John Davis

    During the arguments, it seems like the court has some main issues with Mr Walls' arguments.

    First is the court kept trying to reconcile the argument that he possed that there doesn't need to be a significant civil or property right needed in order for there to be a justiciable question to be answered. Mr Fedder kept on bringing up 3 paragraphs from a UK Supreme Court case, but then one of the justices asked him how he can reconcile that argument when the preceding paragraph and subsequent paragraph is framing the argument in the context of a trust case, where there is a legal property right at stake. One justice even questioned if you are calling the association a contract then what is the consideration that the congregation gives to the members and what consideration does the member give to the congregation. The justice was saying that without the consideration on both parties there cannot be a contract.

    Second, the court seemed to have a problem with trying to determine what is the limit that Mr Walls is suggesting should be the limit. One of the justices even talked about how family relationships are important and vital parts of one's lives but that the courts cannot intervene even in those types of cases if one person doesn't feel that they are being shown enough love by another family member. The court would have to make a delineation that this level of interaction would be sufficient to bring a claim but then this level of interaction doesn't. I just don't see the court making that kind of line in the sand.

  • Finkelstein
  • TerryWalstrom

    I'm pretty sure a case structured like this would meet with greater resistance in the States. "We" are touchier about religion per se.
    I've never been to Canada (I don't count five minutes in Windsor) and have no feel for the place, but I do have friends from there and they have seemingly more humanity than Americans.

    Perhaps the justice system will reflect this when the court has reconvened.

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