The Presiding Bishop’s office has appointed a former federal prosecutor and law school dean to serve as a mediator in the Fort Worth and Quincy cases.
On 19 Nov 2012 the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews wrote two letters to the nine bishops subject to complaints of misconduct for having express opinions contrary. Bishop Matthews informed the nine that Prof. John Douglass had been appointed to be “conciliator” between the accused and the complainants.
A noted Richmond, Virginia trial attorney, Prof. Douglass served as Dean of the University of Richmond Law School from 2007-2011. Before joining the law school to teach in the areas of criminal law and trial advocacy, Prof. Douglass served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond. He served on the staff of Independent Counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation and was a partner in a Richmond law firm. Professor Douglass is a certified mediator and member of The McCammon Group, a professional dispute mediation firm.
Bishop Matthews, who holds several roles in the case as the presiding bishop’s assistant, intake officer for the House of Bishops who investigates the charges, and member of the reference panel that determines how the charges are adjudicated and which appointed Prof. Douglass, stated that as per the private discussions held at the July meeting of the House of Bishops at the General Convention, three bishops would also be invited to participate in sessions: the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, the Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little, II of Northern Indiana, and the Rt. Rev. Michael Milliken of Western Kansas.
The 19 Nov letter stated the first mediation session would take place on 9 January in Richmond, and representatives from both sides, their advisors, and the three participants from the House of Bishops were asked to attend.
The letter from Bishop Matthews, however, appears to express little doubt as to the guilt of the accused. In describing the dispute in Quincy, Bishop Matthews said the three bishops were accused of signing an affidavit in opposition to the national church’s bid to “secure diocesan assets from a breakaway group.” Trusteeship of these assets is the issue currently before the courts as is the constitutionality and canonical legality of claims made by the national church and its supporters that entitles them to ownership. Describing the argument in such terms may well prejudice the ensuing conversations, one observer noted.