Far too often, church members ignore the details of Title IV clergy disciplinary matters. But that’s a missed opportunity, as the pleadings offer telling insights into the underlying allegations. Additionally, we can glean a huge amount of information from the relevant conduct and pleadings about the values and intent of those involved.
And in a recent ruling on a Connecticut Title IV discovery motion in the Amjad Samuel Title IV case, we see further evidence of what we submit is bad faith on the part of Samuel and his canon law attorney, Michael Rehill. In fact, we are increasingly convinced that Amjad Samuel is what one author terms a “serial bully.”
Not surprisingly, most of Samuel’s requests were dismissed, including his specious motions for dismissal and referral for an investigation. Neither is authorized at this stage of the proceedings by the church canons that govern the hearing panel, nor are there facts alleged that would support these outcomes.
And Rehil knows, or has reason to know, that this is the case.
In other words, Rehill is wasting time for an involved, running up the billables, and burning bridges as he goes. Hardly a recipe for success, either for himself or his client.
The few aspects of Samuel’s motion that were granted were transactional matters that likely could have been handled without the assistance of the hearing panel, simply by picking up the phone, calling counsel for the diocese, and asking, “Can we discuss this?”. The fact that Rehill appears not to have this sort of relationship with counsel for the Diocese is, itself, telling.
Moreover, the hearing panel calls out Rehill for his baseless, rambling claims, typically made without a shred of supporting evidence, of possible corruption, lies, and misconduct by diocesan officials. These sorts of thinly disguised ad hominem attacks should be beneath the dignity of every attorney.
Nor are we fans of conspiracy theories, whether they involve Chinese balloons, grassy knolls, or the Episcopal church.
Respondent spares no fodder in his spate of conclusory statements and posed questions regarding what he considers the corruption, lies and deceptions regarding the actions of Diocesan officials in the pre-hearing phase of the case. Throughout his Supplemental Memo, Respondent cobbles together partial citations from portions of correspondence in a stream-of-consciousness approach to arrive at the conclusion of a conspiracy theory involving almost every diocesan official responsible for Title IV.
The Panel does not find these brazen conclusions to be currently supported by the bits and pieces of documents from which the Respondent cites.
Additionally, Rehill’s conduct skids perilously close to a violation of attorney disciplinary Rule 3.3, which requires candor to the tribunal and respect for the adjudicatory process. Even though this is not a civil proceeding, Rehill is still an attorney, representing a client, and subject to the diciplinary rules that pertain to all lawyers. And with one disciplinary issue already in his record, Rehill would be wise not to test his luck.
And while the state attorney disciplinary board may not zing Rehill, the hearing panel has the authority to impose sanctions on him.
Indeed, we increasingly question why Michael Rehill is continuing to respresent Title IV clients, and his inchoate pleadings sound more and more like drafts from a first-year law student whose approach is to throw as many random things as possible at the judicatory and hope that something sticks.
Anglican Watch also notes that Rehill — and by extension, his client — appear to have lost sight of the goal of Title IV, which is to serve as a safe space for a discernment process. Thus, by virtue of their questionable conduct during discovery, Rehill and his client make it increasingly clear that one of the main concerns in this matter, which goes to the question of Samuel’s underlying integrity and motives, is being thoroughly addressed.
The great irony in this is that it is Samuel’s own conduct during discovery that makes us increasingly conclude that:
- The diocese has been more than patient in dealing with Samuel.
- The concerns raised about Amjad are warranted.
- Samuel is entirely unsuited to serve as a priest.
We also note that, while we are not psychologists, Samuel’s conduct appears consistent with that of a narcisist, evincing a high level of deception and manipulation. Members of his parish would be wise to step back and closely examine their relationship with him for the usual indicia of a narcissist, including excess charm, avoidance of responsibility, playing parish members against each other, a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, and more. Check out the article on serial bullies for specifics.
Finally, we note that ECCT, Robin Hammeal-Urban, Ian Douglas, and others at the diocese are among the handful we have seen in the denomination who take Title IV seriously and consistently act with integrity in these matters.
Indeed, survivors of abuse in the church report that they are among the only church leaders who respond with care when someone comes forward to report clergy misconduct. Thus, we believe that Rehill, his co-counsel, and his client should review carefully their litigation strategy, which increasingly appears likely to result in his client being defrocked.
And given what we have seen so far, we’ll have no objections if and when this happens.