Joseph Greenwald & Laake (JGL) is pleased to announce that the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by the D.C. Superior Court, returning control of Jericho Baptist Church Ministries, Inc. to the original Board of Trustees, which includes the Rev. Joel Peebles, whose parents founded the church more than 50 years ago. JGL represented the plaintiffs in this matter, Robert George, Paulette Shelton, and Anaya Jamison, who are longtime members of Jericho. The plaintiffs had their membership rights terminated by a purported board that seized control of Jericho in 2010, but which has now been removed from power. Joseph Creed headed up the trial team for JGL.
This decision is the culmination of nearly six years of litigation for control of Jericho Baptist Church Ministries, Inc., also known as Jericho City of Praise, a large church based in Landover, Maryland. The decision affirms a previous ruling by the D.C. Superior Court, which returned control of the church entity to the original Board of Trustees, including the Rev. Joel Peebles.
According to Joseph Creed of Joseph Greenwald & Laake, “We are very pleased with the court’s decision. This church has a great history in the community. We are happy this lawsuit reinstated our clients’ membership and returned control to the proper board.”
The Court of Appeals concluded that, although courts generally have limited authority to resolve intra-church disputes, the court properly did so here because the decision was based on neutral principles of law that apply to all nonprofit corporations incorporated in the District of Columbia. The court ruled that the purported board was not properly elected in accordance with D.C. law, and therefore the original board remains in place.
The decision also establishes circumstances under which ousted church members may sue to seek reinstatement of their membership, including where they suffer harm that is unique to them (and does not apply to the membership as a whole) and have a personal financial stake in the dispute, such as through the payment of tithes and offerings.
In addition to Mr. Creed, the JGL trial team included Timothy F. Maloney, as well as Ronald Cherry, D’Ana Johnson, and Nadia Patel of the law firm of Bonner, Kiernan, Trebach & Crociata, LLP. The case is Clarence Jackson et al. v. Robert George et al. JGL also represents Joel Peebles and William Meadows, members of the board that was returned to power.
About Joseph Greenwald & Laake
For more than 40 years, Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A. is one of the most trusted law firms serving Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. Known for its commitment to community, confidence and character, Joseph, Greenwald & Laake is the leader in bringing suits against local governments and school systems. The firm represents a variety of clients, including victims, individuals, small businesses and multimillion-dollar corporations. From simple to complex legal needs, the firm is prepared to deliver strategic solutions with high standards.