February 14, 2011

More on the Petition for a Rehearing

I recently wrote that the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that it would ask the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to rehear its appeal of the lower-court decision that determined that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is the proper trustee of diocesan property and funds. (See “Why Bother?”)

Having discussed the prospects of being granted a rehearing with various Pennsylvania attorneys, it seems that the probability that the court will grant the request is vanishingly small. Here are some reasons:
  1. The opinion of the three-judge panel that heard the appeal was unanimous.
  2. The court rejected all the arguments of the appellants. There were no shades of gray to be found in the court’s reasoning.
  3. The opinion was unpublished, meaning that the judges believed that there were no precedents to be set by it. In the end, the court merely affirmed that a legal document said what it seemed to say.
  4. Five of nine justices would have to agree to a rehearing. Presumably, we know that three will vote no. I would be surprised if any judges would be interested in rehearing the case, but surely it shouldn’t be hard to find two justices to reject the request.
  5. The court virtually never grants such hearings. No one I consulted could remember a rehearing being granted by the court.

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