Philadelphia associate Tracy Schloss discussed the pros and cons of judicial deference in the March/April issue of The Pennsylvania Lawyer. Tracy explores the possible ramifications of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas decision to hear Moyer v. Bennison, involving an Episcopal priest who claimed the decision to defrock him was brought about by fraud. While historically courts have not interfered in religious disputes, in Moyer, the court relied on the fraud exception alluded to in Gonzales v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, that a civil court could review a church’s decision where “fraud or collusion” pervade the decision-making process. While the plaintiff in Moyer was unsuccessful in proving fraud and the rest of his case was dismissed, Tracy warns that the fraud exception could be a harmful precedent and the Pennsylvania courts should take the first opportunity they get to clarify its usage.
Source: The Pennsylvania Lawyer