Archive for Saturday, February 23, 2008

Church ordered to provide financial data

February 23, 2008

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— A church infamous for protesting at the funerals of U.S. soldiers is being told to hand over its financial data as it fights paying a $5 million court judgment.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett in Baltimore on Thursday ordered two members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church to appear at a March 6 hearing and bring certified financial statements of the church's assets and other financial holdings.

The church regularly pickets at the funerals of members of the armed forces, claiming their deaths are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance for homosexuality.

In October, a Maryland jury awarded Albert Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy after church members picketed the 2006 funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder.

Bennett earlier this month lowered the award to $5 million.

In court filings, the defendants - the church, pastor Fred Phelps and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebekah Phelps-Davis - have said they have a net worth of about $997,000 and can't pay the judgment.

In his order, filed Thursday, Bennett told Phelps-Roper and Phelps-Davis to appear with a financial accounting of the church's assets and liabilities, their bank statements, copies of real estate deeds and mortgages, a list of church shareholders and the defendants' tax returns.

The church is appealing the decision and the verdict, saying Snyder didn't suffer any physical or economic harm from the church's actions.

Those protests have led numerous states to pass laws in recent years limiting protests tied to funerals. The U.S. Supreme Court this week rejected a motion to hear the church's request to have those laws declared unconstitutional limits on free speech.

Comments

mom_of_three 7 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the judge is wondering how they can afford to go and fly to all those places to picket if they don't have any money...

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