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Rights of Recusal

Update: Church name case handed to new judge.



Bishops in a church-name dispute will have to wait a little longer for a legal decision. Attorneys were notified Monday that the case had been moved from Chancellor Arnold Goldin of Chancery Court to Judge D.J. Alissandratos.

"I've been before Alissandratos. I think they are all good people and good judges," said Glenwood Roane, COGIC (New Day) co-counsel, along with Kathleen Caldwell. "The problem is a basic human one. When you have one of these injunctions issued, the next judge is sometimes unlikely to change the ruling by the first judge. Right now, the injunction should have been dissolved."

Before stepping down, Goldin had issued a temporary injunction against New Day, headed by former COGIC bishop David Grayson, for the use of the Church of God in Christ name. COGIC, headed by presiding bishop G.E. Patterson, contended that New Day's use of the name was causing confusion for the 97-year-old mother church, which is headquartered in Memphis. New Day contends that several churches throughout the country not affiliated with the mother church use the COGIC name and have not faced legal action.

"This case has taken so many new twists and turns that we are concerned with this action," said New Day spokesperson Patricia Rogers. "We are going to file a motion to get the case moved out of Memphis entirely. We don't think we can get a fair trial with [COGIC's] headquarters being here."

Tennessee Supreme Court spokesperson Sue Allison said Goldin was within his jurisdiction to transfer the case to another courtroom. "Any judge can hear any case, and they are encouraged to try and work it out among themselves by interchange," she said.

Roane was told by a court clerk that the remaining Chancery Court judge, Walter Evans, also recused himself from the case because his wife is a member of Patterson's Temple of Deliverance church.

COGIC filed suit against Grayson and New Day in January. The original petition also called for the new church to return COGIC properties. In a March deposition, Patterson said that part of the petition was dropped when a COGIC historic church, Greater Harvest, voted to remain with the mother church. No depositions have been taken from any New Day parties.

"I'm okay with any judge," said COGIC attorney Allan Wade. "Our case is our case. It doesn't matter who the judge is."

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