Image by Huntley Paton via Wikimedia Commons
Image by Huntley Paton via Wikimedia Commons

A judge Monday took under submission two motions that could either clear the way a second time for singer Katy Perry to buy a former convent in Los Feliz from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, or instead leave the issues up to a jury.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick said she hopes to have a ruling within two weeks. She also set a status conference for April 4.

Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman maintain they had authority to sell the Waverly Drive property to businesswoman Dana Hollister in 2015. The archdiocese says the archbishop’s approval was required before the former convent could be sold.

Lawyers for the archdiocese and Perry’s company, The Bird Nest LLC, filed separate motions asking that the singer be allowed to purchase the property without the case having to be decided by a jury.

“It’s time to put a stake in the heart of this matter,”  archdiocese attorney Kirk Dillman said.

But lawyers for the nuns and for Hollister say a jury should decide the issues. Attorney John Scholnick, on behalf of Callanan and Holzman, said the parties have submitted affidavits that “squarely counter” what the other side is saying and that therefore a trial is necessary.

Holzman, who was present for Monday morning’s hearing, declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Last April, Bowick issued a ruling that appeared to cancel the convent’s sale to Hollister and make it possible for Perry, now 32, to acquire the property. The judge agreed with the archdiocese that the sisters needed the approval of the archbishop to sell the convent.

However, the nuns sought a ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal directing Bowick to reverse those orders.

In September, the appellate court chose not to reverse Bowick. But the judge did set aside her earlier rulings to allow additional fact-finding by lawyers for Hollister and the nuns in the wake of the announced intentions by lawyers for the archdiocese and Bird Nest to file motions aimed at once again enabling the sale to Perry.

Dillman told the judge that none of the information gathered by the two nuns’ attorneys should convince her to deviate from last year’s ruling.

Rose and Callahan are among five members of the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary and are the only members who oppose the sale of their former home to Perry.

The archdiocese started the litigation by filing suit against Hollister in June 2015, stating that Hollister is considering using the property for a boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar. Callanan and Holzman later joined the litigation as intervenors and Perry, through The Bird Nest, did so via a cross- complaint.

The proposed sale to Perry would be for $14.5 million, consisting of $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for the house of prayer worth $4.5 million, according to the archdiocese. In contrast, Hollister paid $44,000 and agreed to a contingent promissory note, archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan said.

Even if Bowick grants the motions by the archdiocese and Perry, both have some remaining claims against Hollister that would be decided in a trial.

—City News Service

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