The Curious Case of Rev. Thorton McGillicutty: Part One

Standing in the Well after the bailiff had announced, “The Honorable Thomas D. Poe,” it seemed as if time stood still. Pastor Mac, as his friends at church used to call him, reflected on the strange course of events that led him to this place. Why would a church do this? What heinous crime had he committed to justify this?

He had known other men whose relationship with their church had deteriorated over time. He stood with them and tried his best to encourage them and their families. It never turned out well for the pastor or his household when the church dismissed them for trivial causes. He'd always joked that it seemed the church was trying to hire-up, like a basketball team recruiting the next great coach.

This, however, was different.Pastor Mac had never seen a congregation take such drastic steps and it was all directed at him.

“Before the court today is the case of Shady Lick Baptist Church vs. The Reverend Thorton J. McGillicutty, the Honorable Thomas D. Poe presiding,” the bailiff said.
Everyone sat down.

“Before the counselors make their opening statements let me remind the jury to listen well and take copious notes. It will help you later when deliberating over your decision. It's not often we hear a civil case between a church and its pastor. No matter what your history with churches or pastors remember that you are to listen to both sides in an impartial manner. Thank you for your service to this court and these litigants.

“Counsel for the plaintiff, are you ready to make your opening statements?”

“We are, your Honor.”

“Counsel for the defendant, are you ready?”

“We are, your Honor.”

“Very well, let's begin,” Judge Poe said.

Shady Lick had spared no expense in their choice of a lawyer. Forest D. Campbell was the finest civil law attorney in Harrow County. His record of wins made him the man to see for a suit such as this. Younger and well dressed he was on his way up the ladder of legal success. He rose slowly from his seat and methodically made his way over to the jury box.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client, the good people of Shady Lick Baptist Church have been wronged. We will prove that this man, Rev. Thorton J. McGillicutty, was negligent in his duties as senior pastor which resulted in emotional and financial injury to my client. We will present overwhelming proof provided by credible witnesses and documentation which will clearly describe the abuse suffered by Shady Lick.

“At the conclusion of the trial we seek only the financial loss restored and the emotional damage compensated. This will help Shady Lick return to the position of influence they had in the community before Rev. McGillicutty arrived. Thank you, for your service to our community,” Mr. Campbell said.

As Mr. Campbell sat down Mr. Fuller, counsel for the defendant, rose to his feet. Mr. Fuller was an older man who had been practicing law in Harrow County for many years. His dress gave him the appearance of an absent-minded professor. He was known for taking the hard-luck cases and his peers had often accused him of having a heart that was too big for the legal profession.

He remained behind his desk and reclined in his chair as he addressed the jury.
“Good people of the jury the counsel for the plaintiff has outlined for you their approach which, in their mind, is enough to ask you to rule in favor of their client. We will listen to their 'so-called' evidence and with patience we will show you how in each instance there is reason to doubt both the evidence and the motivation behind it.

“In the end I think you will find my client innocent of the charges leveled at him by the Shady Lick Baptist Church. I'm sure that Judge Poe will remind you that the testimony and evidence you hear must stand on its own beyond a reasonable doubt. Thank you for hearing this case,” Mr. Fuller said.

“Very well. Mr. Campbell, are you prepared to call your first witness?” Judge Poe asked.

“Yes, your Honor. We call Mrs. Darlene Buckner to the stand.”

To be continued. Stay Strong!

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