Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Preliminary Rulings in GL of West Virginia v. Frank Haas Case

New developments are surfacing in the upcoming civil court case between the Grand Lodge of West Virginia and Past Grand Master Frank Haas. The judge held a pre-trial conference and made three preliminary rulings, based on her interpretation of the published internal laws of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia:

• The Grand Master did not have the authority to expel a member without trial.

• Grand Lodge had filed a motion to disallow any discussion of race in the case. The judge ruled that race was a pertinent issue in the circumstances as it was a part of the justification for Haas' expulsion (his brief contact as Grand Master with Prince Hall's Grand Master, along with Haas' proposed rule change regarding non-discrimination), and would be allowed to be brought up.

• She ruled that West Virginia's laws do allow the court to force a private organization to abide by its own internal rules.


While laws vary from state to state, every grand master and lineup of grand lodge officers in the U.S. should take careful note of these findings before exercising what they believe to be their supreme authority over members. There really is a higher legal authority beyond our lodge room doors.

The trial is scheduled to begin before the end of November. It is my understanding that the Grand Lodge has spent well over $100,000 in this case so far, which could have all been saved if one of the last four GMs had been willing to blink. Instead of stonewalling and allowing this to continue for more than three years, everyone needs to get back to the work of making Freemasonry in West Virginia the very best it can be.

Meanwhile, Haas was made a Mason in Ohio back in April, and the result of that action has been for the GL of West Virginia to yank recognition of Ohio over it. Rank and file Masons in two states are barred from meeting on the level because of this ongoing quagmire.

Recaps of the expulsion of Past Grand Master Haas in 2007 and the subsequent actions can be found here.

5 comments:

Michael said...

Pride ruined the angels.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bull Jones said...

The sooner Freemasonry in America as a whole deals with the issue of continued discrimination based on race, the better.

We lose potential members every day due to outdated internal laws and "good ol' boy" bigotry that simply turns off the majority of Americans.

M.T. Jones

burntloafer said...

This is a good thing, and a mark of progress in the direction of the tenets we claim to hold dear.

Chris Hodapp said...

Consider this. All the judge can do, as I understand it, is require the GL of WV to reinstate Frank, and probably pay his legal bills. But forcing them to abide by the GL rules might simply result in a subsequent Masonic trial to attempt to expel him by the book, instead of on the whim of a GM.

I hope the judge's final decision ends this madness. I fear it might not.

Michael said...

If a Masonic trial results, then there are two possible outcomes: acquittal or conviction. If the former, then it may bring a new era to WV Freemasonry; if the latter, then WV Freemasonry, not Frank Haas, will stand convicted.