Apples to Rotten Oranges

October 23, 2008

In the recent issue of The Pathway, Missouri Baptist Convention attorney Michael Whitehead offered his upbeat assessment about the appeal of the MBC's case against Windermere Baptist Conference Center. The case was dismissed in March after the circuit court judge ruled that the MBC's case was without merit (this news was first reported on this blog). Here is Whitehead's statement about the appeal:

The MBC won the last time we were in the appeals court, and we remain confident in our legal position.
The problem with Whitehead's statement is two-fold. First, he is comparing apples to oranges since the previous decision was about standing while the current one is about the merits of the case. The first judge dismissed the MBC case on technical terms, claiming the MBC did not have the right to sue. The appeals court overturned that decision and sent it back. Now, it has been dismissed by a different judge based on an examination of the merits of the case. So, even if the appeals court believes the MBC has a right to sue, that does not mean they will believe that the MBC's legal argument is correct.

The second problem is that he is really comparing apples to rotten oranges. After all, the first appeals court decision included two judges with ties to the MBC. Despite their conflicts of interest, the judges ruled on the case. Perhaps a different panel would have reached a different conclusion. Both judges have since left the bench. Whitehead may publicly be confident, but the two situations are quite different. Although, it should make one pause to consider if he thinks he has a good chance because he once again has a friend on the court ...