JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri Baptist Convention executive director David Tolliver will not be deposed before the MBC’s litigation against the Missouri Baptist Foundation moves forward.
At a hearing in Jefferson City on Feb. 22, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Paul Wilson granted a convention motion for a protective order barring MBF attorneys from taking Tolliver’s deposition — recorded testimony taken as part of the investigation of a case before trial.
Judge Wilson noted he might consider lifting the ban after reviewing Foundation attorneys’ written arguments.
The judge denied an MBF request to delay its response to a convention motion for partial summary judgment — a move to get a ruling on part of the MBC’s lawsuit against the Foundation.
At the hearing, Foundation attorney Laurence Tucker argued that the MBF should have an opportunity to follow up statements Tolliver made in an affidavit filed with the partial summary judgment.
The lawyer conceded that Tolliver had been deposed in the past, but not in conjunction with the Foundation as a separate defendant. The Foundation has tried to take the deposition since December, Tucker said. Earlier this year, the convention agreed to allow the deposition but with a “condition” the MBF refused, he added.
The executive director has been deposed several times, convention lawyer Chuck Hatfield responded, noting that the topics the Foundation wants to cover are “virtually identical” to previous depositions. Another deposition would be unnecessary, cause undue hardship and add to the convention’s legal costs, he said.
MBF attorneys must file a pleading to the partial summary judgment motion by 5 p.m. Feb. 24. The convention will have 15 days in which to respond.
The Feb. 22 hearing was the latest step in legal action the convention took against the Foundation, Word&Way, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University and Windermere Baptist Conference Center on Aug. 13, 2002. The MBC filed the lawsuit, seeking to regain control of the five entities after each changed their charters to elect their own trustees.
Windermere is no longer involved in the Cole County litigation. Former Cole County Circuit Court Judge Richard Callahan ruled in the center’s favor in March 2008, and an appellate court upheld his decision in February 2009.
Judge Wilson took over the Cole County case after being appointed to replace Judge Callahan, who now serves as U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri.