Baby Blue is reporting (link) that Judge Randy Bellows of the Fairfax County Circuit Court has opened discovery on the Contracts Clause, congregational votes, and other related questions. "Discovery" in a legal proceeding is the process whereby opposing parties seek and obtain information relevant to the case from one another. It can be done by document requests, by written questions called "interrogatories", or by taking sworn testimony by way of depositions (not the kind TEC likes to use).
Judge Bellows has also said he wants to resolve these issues soon after his scheduled October hearing.
Assuming that the hearing on the Constitutional First Amendment issues is going forward in late May as previously scheduled, this ruling by Judge Bellows is quite interesting. As I recall, the May hearing is to argue the issues under the Establishments Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, wherein TEC and DioVA are claiming that the Virginia Division Statute is un-Constitutional because it impairs TEC's power to establish itself in the manner it sees fit, i.e., as a so-called hierarchical church that owns all the property. These have been briefed and Judge Bellows, in the wake of his decision on the applicability of the Division Statute, had allowed supplemental arguments to be filed.
At the risk of trying to read tea leaves from afar, it strikes me that for Judge Bellows to be looking ahead to issues beyond the First Amendment ones that are currently on-deck may be an indication that he will rule that there is no First Amendment violation. Why else would he be looking ahead and moving the case toward dealing with the third tier of issues? If he were inclined to rule that the Virginia Division Statute was un-Constitutional, I do not see why he would be looking past the May hearing.
But, as with all things Anglican, we must continue to watch, listen, and pray for Judge Bellows and for the Virginia Eleven as this litigation continues. Discovery can be very expensive depending on the modes employed, so we can expect to see the amounts expended accelerate for the foreseeable future, so funding will be strained on both sides. We can only hope and pray that things continue to go well for the Virginia Eleven.
Although the Division Statute makes this case distinct from most others that are ongoing, the Virginia Eleven case is nonetheless a visible, signature case among those pending, such that a loss for TEC there may create some dissension within the HOB for continuation of the "scorched earth" policies of the P.O. The HOB has already shown some signs of either distaste, or weak stomachs, for the P.O.'s strategeries by declining her May meeting to depose Bishop Duncan - could more "Division" be on the horizon if TEC takes a hit in Virginia? Only time will tell.