Sunday, June 10, 2018

New Twists in West Virginia

The Charleston Gazette is reporting new developments in the case of Frank Haas vs. the Grand Lodge of West Virginia. There must have been no shortage of heartburn in the Grand Lodge office when it was discovered the case was being heard by an African American woman, which, considering some of the issues in the case, pegs the irony meter.

The Grand Lodge's counsel John Tinney has has asked Judge Irene C. Berger to throw out the case, saying Haas has not exhausted the appeals process within the Grand Lodge yet.

The story reads, in part:

The edict expelling Haas would be part of a report presented by the grand master at the end of his term, Tinney said. Members of the Grand Lodge then have the opportunity to vote to accept or reject each part of that report.

Following that, Haas could appeal to the Grievance and Appeal Committee, who would also present their findings for the approval of Grand Lodge members, he said.

Haas could finally appeal to the Jurisprudence Committee, whose report would again be subject to approval of the Grand Lodge members, he said.

Tinney asked Berger to adopt a "hands-off" policy toward the Masons, saying that courts in West Virginia generally do not interject into an organization's processes until they have run their course.

Haas' attorney, Bob Allen, maintained that any effort by Haas to seek reinstatement in a Masonic setting would be a sham.

"If this court dismisses this complaint, he's a goner," he said.

Members of the committees that hear appeals serve at the will and pleasure of the grand master, and their findings could be easily influenced, he said.

Haas tried to appeal his expulsion within the organization, but received no formal acknowledgement of his grievance until he filed the lawsuit, Allen said.

In another development, on Monday, the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia, WWBro, Robin Griffith, filed an amicus brief in support of Haas. The brief points out that West Virginia is one of only 10 states where the Grand Lodge does not recognize their Prince Hall counterparts, which were established because black Masons are traditionally not welcome in mainstream lodges. If nothing else comes out of this from a legal standpoint, this is a bold philosophical and symbolic move on the part of the MWPHGLofWV in support of Haas.

And in one hilarious exchange in the bon chance department, the Grand Lodge wants the names and addresses of internet posters from the Masonic Crusade website:

In their court filings, the defendants have asked Haas to identify the names, e-mail addresses, aliases and/or pen names of all individuals who contribute or comment on the Masonic Crusade site.

The interrogatories specifically ask for information on individuals who post under the names "I.M. Hiram" and "A Mason," and ask Haas to describe his involvement in "the mass e-mailing campaign of the individual or individuals" writing as I.M. Hiram.

BTW, on a side note, I do wish someone in the Grand Lodge office would let their web administrator know the GL of WV's home page title reads "Grang Lodge." They don't seem to accept my emails. And since I'm looking at websites, somebody needs to tell the MW Prince Hall GL of West Virginia they could probably stand a more uplifting piece of music on their website besides "The Thrill Is Gone."

Just sayin'.

Judge Berger has indicated she will rule on the motion to dismiss within two weeks.

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