Universal Life Church Case Law
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List of Legal Cases – Universal Life Church – ULC Case Law

Database of ULC legal cases

This is a definitive collection of court cases pertaining to the Universal Life Church.

Below you will find our list of Federal and State legal cases, Attorneys General Opinions, and case law summaries that cite the Universal Life Church, including the most up to date rulings. If you are currently involved in any litigation involving your status as a Universal Life Church minister, or are aware of court cases that are not listed below, please contact us and we will update our case law database accordingly.

Please note that not all of these court cases pertain to all of the branches of the Universal Life Church, nor do they necessarily pertain to online churches as a whole. The vast majority of the cases below involved the original branch of the Universal Life Church of Modesto, CA; this means that the judgments outlined below sometimes only apply to them and their ministers, if these judgments are even still relevant. That being said, do not be alarmed if you read a case summary on this site that seems to entail that you cannot perform a wedding in a state or county you had otherwise planned on officiating one in as it most likely does not apply to you (or most other ULC ministers, for that matter).

Summaries Found in Legal Blog Section

Many, if not all of the legal cases listed below are written in dense legal language that can be hard for anyone without a law degree to read with a fair level of comprehension. The ULC has written summaries of all of the major cases (those under the Federal and State Case Law sections), and is now in the process of writing more posts about attorney general opinions, in order to help Universal Life Church ministers understand the content of these outcomes.

Click here to read our blog posts about ULC legal cases.

These blog posts are divided into three easy-to-access sections in order to maximize reader comprehension: the case background (the facts pertaining to and developments leading up to the case), the case proceedings (the events that happened during the case), and ruling and outcomes of the case (the court’s decision and the outcomes of these decisions).

These posts are meant for YOU, as ULC ministers; let us know where we need to make improvements or if you think we need to shift our focus to another area of ULC caselaw and we will do our best to accommodate your requests.

How To Use this Database Of Court Cases

Click on the “+” symbol next to each case or opinion and you will open a dialog box that contains a summary of that case or opinion. You can also click on the link at the end of each case law entry to view the court’s own in-depth summary and description of the case in either HTML or PDF format.

The cases are arranged roughly in order of importance. Those nearest the top of the page, the Federal and State level cases, can determine whether or not online churches like the ULC are even legally allowed to exist as non-profit entities or if their ministers are allowed to perform wedding ceremonies. The attorney general opinions below them are generally less important.

Legal Decisions and Opinions:

Federal Case Law:

The Universal Church, Inc. v. Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse Inc. (HTML)

Summary:

In The Universal Church, Inc. v Universal Life Church / ULC Monastery case, the New York federal court granted summary judgement in favor of Defendants George Martin Freeman and Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse, Inc. The plaintiff, The Universal Life Church, Inc., had their motion denied and their complaint was dismissed..

Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse Inc. v. Michael J. Cauley, (11th Cir. 2015) (HTML)

Summary:

This court case goes over the Universal Life Church and their claim that Cauley violated a mediated settlement agreement between the parties concerning prior and ongoing defamation.

Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse, Inc. v. Universal Life Church World Headquarters, Inc., November 21st, 2014 JUDGEMENT (HTML)

Summary:

In the Universal Life Church Monastery v Michael J. Cauley case, the Florida federal court issued judgement in favor of Plaintiffs George Martin Freeman and Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse, Inc., and Plaintiffs shall recover $230,000.00 in damages.

Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse, Inc. v. Universal Life Church World Headquarters, Inc., November 21st, 2014 (HTML)

Summary:

This Florida federal court issued an injunction against Universal Life Church World Headquarters and its president Michael J. Cauley (http://ulcnetwork.com) to cease and desist and imposed penalties in the amount of $230,000 for violations of a previous mediation agreement, attorney fees are to be added.

Universal Life Church v. State of Utah, January 17th, 2002 (HTML)

Summary:

In 2001, Utah’s legislature passed a bill stopping people ordained online or by mail from officiating marriages; this case challenged the constitutionality of that bill. After reaching a US District Court, a precedent setting memorandum was issued affirming the right of Universal Life Church ministers to perform marriages.

Universal Life Church v. United States of America, 1997 (HTML)

The Universal Life Church of Modesto, California once again sued the IRS for deducting taxes, though this case followed the church’s 1992 bankruptcy filing, which reversed the ULC’s 501(c)(3) status. The court dismissed the case and the IRS was not required to pay back any money.

Universal Life Church – Chapter 11 Filing, 1992 (HTML)

Summary:

This is the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing by Universal Life Church of Modesto, California. Documents outline property and assets owned by the church.

Lynch v. Universal Life Church, 1985 (HTML)

Summary:

Sandra Lynch had her wedding declared invalid, because it had been performed by a Universal Life Church minister; she subsequently sued the ULC for fraud. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that “Consequently, the judgment of the district court is reversed, and the case is remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the church.”

Universal Life Church v. United States of America, 1974 (HTML)

Summary:

The IRS deducted over $10,000 in income taxes from the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California, and the ULC sued for the return of those funds. The judge ruled in favor of the ULC, solidifying 501(c)(3) tax exempt status for the organization.

State Case Law:

Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse Inc. v. Michael J. Cauley (ARIZONA SUPERIOR COURT, PIMA COUNTY), 2015 (HTML)

Summary:

This document details the Defendant, Michael J Cauley, and his “Motion for Dismissal” filed against the Universal Life Church, as well as the ruling.

O’Neill & O’Neill – Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Memorandum of Law, 2008 (HTML)

Summary:

A dispute over the legality of Jason B. and Jennifer O’Neill’s wedding, which was performed by a Universal Life Church minister, resulted in Bucks County, PA legally recognizing the ULC’s ordination as legally valid.

Ranieri v. Ranieri, 1989 (HTML)

Summary:

Plaintiff Rae B. Ranieri sought a divorce settlement from her husband Rocco J. Ranieri; the couple was married by a Universal Life Church minister. Defendant Ranieri attempted to nullify the ULC marriage though a countersuit, however the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Blackwell v. Magee, 1988 (HTML)

Summary:

When Colbert C. Blackwell passed away, the family of his deceased former wife attempted to claim Blackwell’s inheritance. Blackwell’s wife at the time of his death, Nadine Fortenberry Blackwell, maintained her right to the inheritance. The family alleged that the marriage of Blackwell and Fortenberry was not legal because it had been performed by a Universal Life Church minister; the Supreme Court of Mississippi disagreed.

Opinion of the California State Board of Equalization, 1988 (HTML)

Summary:

Robert V. Fike appealed a decision by the Franchise Tax Board of California which required him to pay taxes on large donations made to the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California. Fike’s donations were channeled through the ULC to pay for his living expenses. The court discovered that ULC had its tax exempt status retroactively reversed in a earlier ruling and Fike was required to pay back the State of California.

Fulton v. Vickery, 1985 (HTML)

Summary:

Lynn Fulton alleged that Charles Vickery and Thomas Fulton had fraudulently induced her to enter into an invalid marriage with Vickery. Plaintiff Fulton was unable to prove that her marriage, which was performed by a ULC minister, was invalid.

Rubino v. City of New York, 1984 (HTML)

Summary:

Rev. Anthony Rubino attempted to register as a marriage officiant in New York City and was denied by a City Clerk. The Supreme Court of New York County upheld the Clerk’s decision, determining there was no right to perform marriages implied by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

State of North Carolina v. Lynch, 1980 (HTML)

Summary:

On trial for bigamy, James R. Lynch claimed that his second marriage was legally void because it had been performed by a Universal Life Church minister. The Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed Lynch’s argument, denying ULC ministers the right to perform marriages.

Cramer v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 1974 (HTML)

Summary:

Universal Life Church minister Murphy Cramer requested the authority to perform marriages in the State of Virginia. The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that the ULC had ordained so many ministers that they could not have responsibly selected Cramer; he was therefore denied the right to officiate the sacrament of marriage.

Ravenal v. Ravenal, 1972 (HTML)

Summary:

Richard S. Ravenal sought an annulment from his marriage with Cathy L. Ravenal. After determining that the ULC was not a valid religious institution, the wedding, which was performed by a ULC minister, was annulled by the court.

Attorneys General Opinions:

Opinion of the Attorney General of Texas, 2002 (HTML)

Summary:

Universal Life Church ministers that wish to offer counseling services are not automatically exempt from registering with the state, though their ministerial practices may qualify them as exempt.

Opinion of the Attorney General of Tennessee – 1, 1997 (HTML)

Summary:

Marriages performed by anyone that does not meet the statutory requirements of the state can be found void.

Opinion of the Attorney General of Tennessee – 2, 1997 (HTML)

Summary:

Universal Life Church ministers do not necessarily meet the statutory requirements of the state and are not automatically qualified to perform marriages.

Opinion of the Attorney General of Kentucky, 1978 (HTML)

Summary:

Marriages can be performed by any minister of the gospel, including ministers of the Universal Life Church.

Opinion of the Attorney General of South Carolina, 1973 (HTML)

Summary:

As long as a minister is able to meet the statutory requirements of the state, they are qualified to solemnize marriages.

Opinion of the Attorney General of South Carolina, 1971 (HTML)

Summary:

A minister of any religious organization, including the Universal Life Church, is entitled to solemnize marriages.

Legal Cases Mentioning the or Citing the Universal Life Church

Lineker v. State, Court of Appeals of Alaska. January 20th, 2010

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

During his testimony, Michael Lineker conceded that about one month after he was arrested on the marijuana charges, he obtained certificates which indicated that he was an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church and a member of the Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry. He admitted that the website for the Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry provided information designed to provide a legal defense to people who were caught with marijuana. He admitted that by submitting documentation of these ordinations, he was misleading the court about his religious affiliations. The record shows that, as part of their first motion to dismiss the indictment, both Michael and Maria Lineker submitted affidavits claiming to be ordained ministers with the Universal Life Church and with the Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry.

…and…

Judge Weeks’s conclusion is supported by the evidence. The strongest evidence in support of Judge Weeks’s conclusion is Michael Lineker’s admission that, one month after he was arrested on the marijuana charges, he obtained certificates stating that he was a minister in the Universal Life Church and the Hawaii Cannabis (THC) Ministry in order to mislead the court about his religious beliefs and in an attempt to establish a defense to the marijuana charges. He submitted an affidavit in support of his claim that he was an ordained minister. The record shows that Maria Lineker submitted a similar affidavit.

Bernard Dolenz Life Estate v. Dallas Cent. Appraisal Dist. & Appraisal Review Board, Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas. August 13th, 2009

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

On December 11, 2003, Bernard Dolenz conveyed the property at 6102 Swiss Avenue in Dallas by quitclaim deed to the Universal Life Church of Texas Trust. Dolenz is trustee of ULC. Contemporaneous with the quitclaim deed, the Trust and Dolenz, as trustee, conveyed a life estate in the property to Dolenz.

…and…

The Notice of Protest For Year 2006 listed Universal Life Church of Texas Trust as the owner of the Swiss Avenue Property.

Branch v. Chamisa Dev. Corp., Court of Appeals of New Mexico. August 10th, 2009

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

We begin our analysis by recognizing that New Mexico adheres to the election of remedies doctrine. See Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 693, 652 P.2d 240, 243 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986).

Santa Fe N., Inc. v. Santa Fe Estates, Inc., Court of Appeals of New Mexico. February 6th, 2008

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Our Supreme Court adopted the Restatement (Second) of Judgments §§ 24, 25 (1982), in Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 695, 652 P.2d 240, 245 (1982), overruled in part on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986), and Cagan, 2005 NMCA 59, P 19, 137 N.M. 570, 113 P.3d 393. Section 24 of the Restatement, in part, states:

When a valid and final judgment rendered in an action extinguishes the plaintiff’s claim pursuant to the rules of merger or bar (see §§ 18, 19), the claim extinguished includes all rights of the plaintiff to remedies against the defendant with respect to all or any part of the transaction, or series of connected transactions, out of which the action arose. Section 24 also states that “[t]he general rule of this [s]ection . . . is subject to the exceptions stated in [Section] 26.” (Emphasis omitted.)

People v. Rubin, Court of Appeals of California Second Appellate District, Division Six. December 1st, 2008

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Appellant testified that he was an ordained Universal Life Church minister and started Temple 420 as an online ministry. Appellant was a promarijuana activist and had been profiled in nonreligious magazines such as High Times, Cannabis Culture, Heads, Spunk Magazine, and Time Magazine. In High Times, he was dubbed “The Hollywood Wizard of Weed.” Appellant said that he was trying to bring religion to the “pot movement because there is a million people trying to legalize marijuana and a lot of them don’t have God in their lives … .”

Rudy v. Intermountain Agency, Inc., Court of Appeals of New Mexico. October 30th, 2008

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The policy behind res judicata is to “relieve parties of the cost and vexation of multiple lawsuits, conserve judicial resources, and by preventing inconsistent decisions, encourage reliance on adjudication.” Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982) (quoting Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94, 101 S. Ct. 411, 66 L. Ed. 2d 308 (1980)), overruled [*4] on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986).

Duncan v. Duncan, Court of Appeals of North Carolina. November 18th, 2008

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

On 15 October 1989, plaintiff Barbara Duncan and defendant John Duncan (collectively, “the couple” or “the Duncans”) participated in a Native American marriage ceremony performed by Hawk Littlejohn, a Cherokee Medicine Man, who possessed a certificate stating that he was ordained by the Universal Life Church. Following the ceremony, plaintiff changed her last name, the couple signed a marriage certificate and filed it with the Macon County Register of Deeds, and the Duncans held themselves out in the community as a married couple. The Duncans had two children [*2] together: a son who was born in 1986, and a daughter who was born in 1993. In 2001, an estate planning attorney questioned the validity of the couple’s 1989 marriage ceremony. The attorney advised the Duncans to conduct a new marriage ceremony, and they took his advice. On 14 October 2001, the couple held another marriage ceremony at The First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, North Carolina.

Computer One, Inc. v. Grisham & Lawless P.A., Supreme Court of New Mexico. June 23rd, 2008

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Res judicata is designed to “‘relieve parties of the cost [*21] and vexation of multiple lawsuits, conserve judicial resources, and . . . prevent[] inconsistent decisions, [and] encourage reliance on adjudication.’” Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982) (quoting Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94, 101 S. Ct. 411, 66 L. Ed. 2d 308 (1980)), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986). New Mexico has adopted the transactional approach to determine whether two issues constitute the same claim for purposes of res judicata. Id. at 695, 652 P.2d at 245 (adopting the Restatement (Second) of Judgments §§ 24, 25 (1980)). “[U]nderlying the [transactional approach] is the need to strike a delicate balance between, on the one hand, the interests of the defendant and of the courts in bringing litigation to a close and, on the other, the interest of the plaintiff in the vindication of a just claim.” Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 24 cmt. b, at 199.

State v. Sherman, Supreme Court of Tennessee at Knoxville. August 15th, 2008

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Ariel Ben Sherman (“Defendant”) moved to Lenoir City, Tennessee, in April of 2001, rented a house, and began to conduct religious services in the name of the Universal Life Church. He permitted eight of his parishioners to move into his six-bedroom [*3] residence, including Jacqueline Crank (“Crank”), her daughter Jessica Crank (“Jessica”), and her son Israel.

State v. Sherman, Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville. July 12th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Motions contained in the record reflect that Jessica Crank was the daughter of the defendant Jacqueline [*3] P. Crank and that defendant Ariel Ben Sherman was a minister in the Universal Life Church.

Computer One, Inc. v. Grisham & Lawless P.A., Court of Appeals of New Mexico. April 30th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Under the transactional approach, the relevant inquiry is not what substantive law governs a claim, but rather whether the claims arise out of the same transaction or series of transactions. See Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 695, 652 P.2d 240, 245 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 58, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986).

District of Columbia v. Craig, District of Columbia Court of Appeals. July 19th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Appellant testified that he was an ordained Universal Life Church minister and started Temple 420 as an online ministry. Appellant was a promarijuana activist and had been profiled in nonreligious magazines such as High Times, Cannabis Culture, Heads, Spunk Magazine, and Time Magazine. In High Times, he was dubbed “The Hollywood Wizard of Weed.” Appellant said that he was trying to bring religion to the “pot movement because there is a million people trying to legalize marijuana and a lot of them don’t have God in their lives … .”

Prell v. Silverstein, Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii. May 30th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

[A]ll I know is that a friend of mine had lost millions of dollar [sic] to two of his wives and he insisted he have a prenuptial agreement. That was in the news a lot in the ’70s. And I had a prenuptial in 1980 when we got married for the first time in the eyes of god with the Universal Life Church. We rewrote it because we were going to get married in ’83. And then we wrote it again one week before our marriage because this is what we both finally settled on. This was the simple plain English agreement that any ten-year-old could interpret.

Rosette, Inc. v. United States DOI, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. January 5th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The principles of preclusion operate to promote finality in civil disputes by relieving parties of the burdens of multiple lawsuits, conserving judicial resources, and preventing inconsistent decisions. See Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 59, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986). As Rosette initially frames its argument on appeal, we have no quarrel with the statement that res judicata or collateral estoppel do not bar the district court from determining the extent of Rosette’s water rights. The purpose of an adjudication is to determine water rights. However, to the extent that Rosette is arguing that its water rights include the heat that the United States has reserved as its mineral interest in geothermal resources, we find that Rosette’s claims are precluded by the prior litigation in federal courts

Salazar v. Torres, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. January 5th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The election of remedies doctrine is intended “to prevent vexatious and multiple litigation of causes of action arising out of the same subject matter.” Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 693, 652 P.2d 240, 243 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 58, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986). However, the doctrine “has been constantly criticized as harsh and not a favorite of equity.” Id

Moffat v. Branch, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. January 5th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

We now consider whether Moffat’s charging lien claim in the federal action and his amended complaint in state court are the “same claim.” Federal law and New Mexico law both look to Restatement § 24 to evaluate what constitutes the same claim for purposes [*16] of claim preclusion. Ford, 119 N.M. at 413, 891 P.2d at 554. Over twenty years ago, our Supreme Court applied the Restatement’s transactional approach to this analysis. Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 695, 652 P.2d 240, 245 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986); see generally Restatement § 24 cmt. a at 198 (explaining that a claim is evaluated in factual terms, regardless of the legal theories raised or relief sought, and that under modern procedural rules, this approach “reflects the expectation that parties who are given the capacity to present their entire controversies shall in fact do so” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

Spratt v. R.I. Dept of Corrections, United State Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit. April 6th, 2007.

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Spratt is a prisoner in the maximum security unit and is serving a life sentence for murder. See [*2] State v. Spratt, 742 A.2d 1194 (R.I. 1999). In 1995, Spratt underwent a religious awakening, and began attending Christian services at the ACI. Impressed with his commitment and devotion, the prison chaplains began allowing Spratt to preach n1 to inmates during weekly services. In 2000, Spratt was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church. From 1995 until 2003, no prison official interfered with Spratt’s religious activities. n2 Spratt’s preaching during this seven year period did not lead to any apparent disciplinary problems at the ACI.

Prell v. Silverstein, Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii. May 30th, 2007

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

[A]ll I know is that a friend of mine had lost millions of dollar [sic] to two of his wives and he insisted he have a prenuptial agreement. That was in the news a lot in the ’70s. And I had a prenuptial in 1980 when we got married for the first time in the eyes of god with the Universal Life Church. We rewrote it because we were going to get married in ’83. And then we wrote it again one week before our marriage because this is what we both finally settled on. This was the simple plain English agreement that any ten-year-old could interpret.

DaFlon v. Sawyers, Supreme Court of New Mexico. April 24th, 2006

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Res judicata prevents a party or its privies from repeatedly suing another for the same cause of action. See Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 58, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986).

Lineker v. State, Court of Appeals of Alaska. October 4th, 2006

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The Linekers claimed to be members and ordained ministers in the Universal Life Church and the Hawaiian THC Ministry Church, and asserted that oil derived from the cannabis plant was an essential aspect of their religion. The Linekers claimed that the cannabis plant is used in a sacramental ceremony in which marijuana plants are pressed to obtain an oil that is used to anoint the church members. To properly perform the ceremony, approximately one gallon of oil is needed. This requires pressing approximately nine pounds of marijuana. The [*4] Linekers claimed that the marijuana is not smoked or ingested in any manner. In support of their claims, the Linekers attached as an exhibit to their motion a “Theological Discussion,” complete with a list of references, detailing their beliefs and the parameters of their religion. Superior Court Judge Larry R. Weeks rejected the Linekers’ state and federal constitutional claims without an evidentiary hearing. In particular, Judge Weeks rejected the Linekers’ claims under the free exercise clause of Article I, Section 4, of the Alaska Constitution. The Linekers appeal this decision.

State v. Carignan, Court of Appeals of North Carolina. February 9th, 2006

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

[*7] Defendant does not dispute that North Carolina’s controlled substances laws are neutral and generally applicable laws. Rather, defendant contends that, because he is an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church and smokes marijuana for religious reasons as part of his adherence to the Hawaiian Cannabis Ministry, his prosecution impinges both his freedom of religion (by prosecuting him for using marijuana) and his freedom of speech (by prohibiting him from going “about the business of spreading the word about his religion, sharing and leading prayers with other similarly situated believers.”). Defendant has not, however, made any showing as to how this prosecution abridges his freedom of speech. Defendant was prosecuted for the possession and manufacture of marijuana, and the possession of drug paraphernalia — charges that are unrelated to and do not preclude defendant’s speech in support of the Universal Life Church or the Hawaiian Cannabis Ministry.

Pickard v. Pickard, Court of Appeals of North Carolina. July 18th, 2006

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Hawk Littlejohn (“Littlejohn”), a Cherokee Indian, married plaintiff and defendant in the Native American tradition on 7 June 1991. Plaintiff is a physician employed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (“UNC”). Plaintiff had met Littlejohn at the UNC medical school where Littlejohn lectured as a Cherokee shaman or “medicine man.” [*2] Littlejohn performed healings and conducted ceremonies in accordance with Cherokee traditions. Littlejohn also possessed a certificate stating that he was ordained as a minister in the Universal Life Church.

…and…

We begin by noting that the dissent states that Littlejohn was an ordained minister. However, although the trial court found that Littlejohn possessed a certificate stating that he was ordained by the Universal Life Church, “[t]hat at no time was Hawk Littlejohn a minister of the gospel licensed to perform marriages.” The court also found and concluded that Littlejohn’s ordination was not cured by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 51-1.1. Because these findings have not been challenged, they are conclusive on appeal. Rite Color Chemical Co. v. Velvet Textile Co., 105 N.C. App. 14, 22, 411 S.E.2d 645, 650 (1992).[*8]

…and…

Plaintiff entered into evidence a copy of Littlejohn’s ordination of ministry from the Universal Life Church. Plaintiff argues these credentials were insufficient to comply with the marriage statute. He asserts Littlejohn did not possess the legal authority [*20] to validly perform the parties’ wedding ceremony in North Carolina and contends the marriage is voidable.

…and…

more… This statute rendered the marriage performed by an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church valid in Fulton. 73 N.C. App. at 387, 326 S.E.2d at 358. In Fulton, the parties married in 1972. 73 N.C. App. at 384, 362 S.E.2d at 356. Charles E. Vickery performed the marriage ceremony as an ordained minister by the Universal Life Church. Id. at 385, 362 S.E.2d at 356.

Ross v. State, Court of Appeals of Arkansas. November 1st, 2006

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Here, Ross’s friend Steve Long, an ordained minister, 3
3 According to testimony, Long obtained an honorary degree from the Universal Life Church via the Internet in March 2003.

City & County of San Francisco v. PG&E Corp., United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. January 10th, 2006.

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

[6] We have applied two alternative tests to determine whether the actions of a governmental unit are in exercise of its police and regulatory power as defined in 11 U.S.C. section 362(b)(4): the “pecuniary purpose” and the “public policy” test. Universal Life Church v. United States (In re Universal Life Church, Inc.), 128 F.3d 1294, 1297 (9th Cir. 1997).9 Satisfaction of either test will suffice to exempt the action from the reach of the automatic stay.

…and…

If the action primarily seeks to protect the government’s pecuniary interest, the automatic stay applies. If the suit primarily seeks to protect the public safety and welfare, the automatic stay does not apply. Universal Life, 128 F.3d at 1297; see also Mirant, 398 F.3d at 1109 (“If the suit seeks to protect the government’s pecuniary interest, the § 362(b)(4) exception does not apply. On the other hand, if the suit seeks to protect public safety and welfare, the exception does apply.”).

R.R. Mgmt. Co. LLC v. CFS La. Midstream Co. United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. October 7th, 2005

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Relying on Ruberto v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 774 F.2d 61 (2d Cir.1985), Strong nevertheless argues that the district court should have provided it with an additional opportunity to submit an admissible copy of the contract before granting summary judgment on its claims. We disagree. The Rubertos petitioned the tax court pro se to contest the commissioner’s determination that their donations to the Universal Life Church were not deductible. Id. at 62. The only factual issue in dispute was whether they had actually made the donations in question. Id. The commissioner subpoenaed the cancelled checks made out to the church, but the Rubertos only produced photocopies. Id. at 63. The Rubertos explained that they had received the subpoena on the previous Friday evening and that the hearing before the tax court was on the following Monday. Id. The weekend had not provided them with enough time to obtain the originals, which could be produced if they were permitted more time. Id. The Second Circuit held that refusing to allow the Rubertos a reasonable opportunity to submit the original checks was, under these circumstances, an abuse of discretion. Id. In the case at bar, however, Strong was represented by counsel, and there is no contention that it was given inadequate notice that it would be required to submit admissible evidence in support of its claim or that the basis for the motion for summary judgment was CFS’s contention that no assignment had occurred. Accordingly, the exclusion of Exhibit G was not an abuse of discretion.

Lockyer v. Mirant Corp. United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. February 10th, 2005

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

[8] Section 362(b)(4) provides that the filing of a bankruptcy petition does not operate as an automatic stay “of the commencement or continuation of an action or proceeding by a governmental unit . . . to enforce such governmental unit’s. . . police or regulatory power.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(b)(4). A government unit need not affirmatively seek relief from the automatic stay to initiate or continue an action subject to the exemption. Edward Cooper Painting, 804 F.2d at 939. The theory of the exception is that bankruptcy should not be “ ‘a haven for wrongdoers.’ ” Universal Life Church, Inc. v.United States (In re Universal Life Church), 128 F.3d 1294,1297 (9th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).

Cagan v. Village of Angel Fire, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. April 14th, 2005

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

We next address whether the elements of res judicata are met. “Res judicata applies when four elements are met: (1) identity of parties or privies, (2) identity of capacity or character of persons for or against whom the claim is made, (3) same cause of action, and (4) same subject matter.” Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982), rev’d on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 59, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986). Plaintiffs appear to concede that the first two prongs of this test are not at issue, and do not argue whether or not they are met. Even though a question of privity might arise on the facts before this Court, we may not fairly address an issue that is abandoned and to which the Village did not have an opportunity to respond. Therefore, we deal only with the cause of action and subject matter requirements of res judicata in these cases.

Cordova v. Larsen, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. May 19th, 2004

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

To the contrary, policy considerations informing the doctrine of claim preclusion counsel in favor of Defendants. “The underlying principle behind res judicata is to relieve parties of the cost and vexation of multiple lawsuits, conserve judicial resources, and by preventing inconsistent decisions, encourage reliance on adjudication.” Three Rivers Land Co., Inc. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982) (internal quotation marks, citation, and emphasis omitted), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 58, 728 P.2d 467, 468 (1986).

Spookyworld, Inc., v. Town of Berlin, et al. United State Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit. September 25th, 2003.

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

For clarity’s sake, Spookyworld’s argument should be distinguished from a related, but here inapplicable, limitation on the use of the police power exception to the automatic stay. Under the case law, the exception does not apply if the government takes legal action to advance its own “pecuniary” interest (or perhaps the pecuniary interest of others); but it does apply if the government acts in the interest of “public safety and welfare.” E.g., In re Universal Life Church, 128 F.3d 1294, 1297-98 (9th Cir. 1997); see also Chao v. Hosp. Staffing Servs., Inc., 270 F.3d 374, 385-89 (6th Cir. 2001).

NAACO Peoples Universal Life Church v. City of Detroit, Court of Appeals of Michigan. April 8th, 2003

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Plaintiff’s complaint was entitled “COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTION AND MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER.” Plaintiff sought to enjoin defendant and its tax collectors and agents from collecting taxes on certain property owned by plaintiff and occupied by NAACO Peoples Universal Life Church, on the basis that the property is tax exempt.

Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom v. Berks County Bd. of Assessment Appeals, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. December 10th, 2003

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The courts of the Commonwealth have consistently applied the law to deny exemption to church-owned real estate for the reason that it was not actually used for regularly stated religious worship. Holland Universal Life Church of Love Appeal, 38 Pa. Commw. 529, 394 A.2d 665 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1978) (upheld the denial of exemption for a pastor’s dwelling house where he conducted “services”)…

City of Sunland Park v. Macias, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. April 25th, 2003

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The cause of action in the Pope case, and upon which judgment was entered, was the County’s petition for condemnation of a well, in the midst of which the City filed an application for an injunction. The cause of action in the second lawsuit was the City’s petition for injunctive relief. Under the transactional test adopted by our Supreme Court in Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 695, 652 P.2d 240, 245 (1982) (overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 59, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986)), to determine whether a later claim is precluded, we must “examine the operative facts underlying the claims made in the two lawsuits.” , Anaya v. City of Albuquerque, 1996 NMCA 92, P8, 122 N.M. 326, 924 P.2d 735. In this case, the operative facts underlying the petition for condemnation and the petition for injunctive relief are different.

Apodaca v. AAA Gas Co., Court of Appeals of New Mexico. March 11th, 2003

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

LPGE argues, and the trial court agreed, that LPGE never consented to try the UPA claims. To the contrary, LPGE strenuously objected to trying this claim. The failure to object to the admission of the evidence which would support that claim cannot now be used to show consent since the evidence was relevant to other pleaded issues. Although LPGE clearly did not consent to try the theory, it never argued how it would be prejudiced if the amendment was allowed at that time. Plaintiffs had a duty to raise this issue to alert the trial court, as well as LPGE, of any error in denying the motion, to wit: a granting of the motion would not prejudice LPGE. Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 693, 652 P.2d 240, 243 (1982) (“It is the duty of the appellant to see that the record is properly before us. We will not consider matters not contained in the record on appeal.”) (citations omitted), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986); see also Reeves v. Wimberly, 107 N.M. 231, 236, 755 P.2d 75, 80 (Ct. App. 1988). [*64] “Upon a doubtful or deficient record, every presumption is indulged in favor of the correctness and regularity of the trial court’s decision, and the appellate court will indulge in reasonable presumptions in support of the order entered.” Id.

Chaara v. Lander, Court of Appeals of New Mexico. March 12th, 2002

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The second element of res judicata exists because Husband and Wife’s Attorney had the same identity of [*9] capacity in both actions. See Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982), overruled on other grounds by Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 728 P.2d 467 (1986). Husband acted on his own behalf. Wife’s Attorney acted as Wife’s counsel in the first domestic relations action and was being sued in that capacity in this action.

in re Anndre’Ya W., Superior Court of Connecticut, Juvenile Matters, Hartford. July 26th, 2001

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Andrew also has participated in a number of bible study courses and has been ordained with all rights and privileges to perform all duties of the ministry in the Universal Life Church. (Father’s Exh. 6.)

Bank of Santa Fe v. Marcy Plaza Assocs., Court of Appeals of New Mexico. December 14th, 2001

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

Claim preclusion, or res judicata, precludes a subsequent action involving the same claim or cause of action. Wolford, 1999 NMCA 24, P5, 126 N.M. 614, 973 P.2d 866. It applies where there is “(1) identity of parties or privies, (2) identity of capacity or character of persons for or against whom the claim is made, (3) [the] same cause of action, and (4) [the] same subject matter.” City of Las Vegas v. Oman, 110 N.M. 425, 432, 796 P.2d 1121, 1128 (Ct. App. 1990) (quoting Three Rivers Land Co. v. Maddoux, 98 N.M. 690, 694, 652 P.2d 240, 244 (1982), overruled on other grounds by, Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. 57, 58, 728 P.2d 467, 469 (1986)).

…and…

A. Comparison of Claims In this case, we have the same parties, so the dispositive factors are whether the overpayment claim involves the same cause of action and the same subject matter as that decided at the 1996 arbitration. City of Las Vegas, 110 N.M. at 432, 796 P.2d at 1128. Anaya requires us to determine whether the facts underlying the first and subsequent claim are “so interwoven as to constitute a single claim for purposes of res judicata.” Anaya, 1996 NMCA 92, P11, 122 N.M. 326, 924 P.2d 735. In making this determination, we look at three factors: “(1) the relatedness of the facts in time, space, origin, or motivation; (2) whether, taken together, the facts form a convenient unit for trial purposes; and (3) whether the treatment of the facts as a single unit conforms to the parties’ expectations or business understanding or usage.” 1996 NMCA 92, P12; see also Three Rivers Land Co., 98 N.M. at 695, 652 P.2d at 245 [*10] (discussing that res judicata is not determined by a mechanical test but by a process made up of well-established rules), overruled on other grounds by, Universal Life Church v. Coxon, 105 N.M. at 58, 728 P.2d at 469.

Safety-Kleen, Inc. v. Wyche, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. December 8th, 2000

Case excerpt where Universal Life Church is cited:

The difficulty in applying this exception comes in distinguishing between situations in which the state acts pursuant to its “police and regulatory power” and situations in which the state acts merely to protect its status as a creditor. To make this distinction, we look to the purpose of [*33] the law that the state is attempting to enforce. If the purpose of the law is to promote “public safety and welfare,” Universal Life Church, Inc. v. United States (In re Universal Life Church, Inc.), 128 F.3d 1294, 1297 (9th Cir. 1997), or to “effectuate public policy,” NLRB v. Edward Cooper Painting, Inc., 804 F.2d 934, 942 (6th Cir. 1986) (internal quotation marks omitted), then the exception applies. On the other hand, if the purpose of the law relates “to the protection of the government’s pecuniary interest in the debtor’s property,” Universal Life Church, 128 F.3d at 1297, or to “adjudicate private rights,” Edward Cooper Painting, 804 F.2d at 942 (internal quotation marks omitted), then the exception is inapplicable. The inquiry is objective: we examine the purpose of the law that the state seeks to enforce rather than the state’s intent in enforcing the law in a particular case. See United States v. Commonwealth Cos. (In re Commonwealth Cos.), 913 F.2d 518, 523 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990); United States v. Grooms,1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13991, No. Crim. A. 96-00071- C, 1997 WL 578752, at *3 (W.D. Va. Aug. 29, 1997). [*34] Of course, many laws have a dual purpose of promoting the public welfare as well as protecting the state’s pecuniary interest. The fact that one purpose of the law is to protect the state’s pecuniary interest does not necessarily mean that the exception is inapplicable. Rather, we must determine the primary purpose of the law that the state is attempting to enforce. See Yellow Cab Coop. v. Metro Taxi, Inc. (In re Yellow Cab Coop.), 132 F.3d 591, 597 (10th Cir. 1997); Javens v. City of Hazel Park (In re Javens), 107 F.3d 359, 367-68 (6th Cir. 1997); EEOC v. Rath Packing Co., 787 F.2d 318, 324 (8th Cir. 1986). But see Universal Life Church, 128 F.3d at 1299 (“Only if the action is pursued solely to advance a pecuniary interest of the governmental unit will the automatic stay bar it.” (emphasis added) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Likewise, the fact that the state action requires the debtor to make an expenditure does not necessarily mean that the regulatory exception is inapplicable. See, e.g., Commonwealth Oil Refining Co. v. EPA (In re Commonwealth Oil Refining Co.), 805 F.2d 1175, 1186 (5th Cir. 1986) [*35] (holding that the EPA could force debtor to comply with environmental regulations even though compliance would cause debtor to spend money).

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