Westboro church members have failed to post bonds

Associated Press/May 6, 2008

Two members of the Westboro Baptist Church have failed to post bonds needed to stay the collection of a $5 million jury award pending appeal.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett, on April 3, granted motions by Shirley L. Phelps-Roper and Rebekah A. Phelps-Davis to delay payment of the verdict for protesting a U.S. Marine's funeral. The postponement was contingent upon their posting $125,000 and $100,000 bonds, respectively.

Bennett also imposed a lien on the properties of the church and its founder, Fred W. Phelps Sr.

The sisters had argued for lesser bond amounts; Phelps-Roper said she would not be able to offer such collateral to the court.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, the deadline imposed by Bennett, the women had not posted the bonds, according to court records.

Sean E. Summers is an attorney for plaintiff Albert Snyder, the plaintiff. He said the sisters' appeal of Bennett's ruling on their motion to stay made it improbable they would put up the cash Monday.

"It would be counterintuitive to do that if they were going to post the money," Summers said. "It's hard to cry poor to the 4th Circuit if they've already paid the money."

Phelps-Roper confirmed her refusal to obey Bennett's order granting a stay and discounted that part of the proceedings. "All this collection stuff, it's a lot of fluffy talk," she said. "If I don't have no $5 million, you can't take no $5 million."

In November, a jury found that the Topeka, Kan.-based church intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Snyder, of York, Pa. Snyder's son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, 20, was killed in Iraq in March 2006.

Summers said he will file a motion with Bennett to execute on the sisters' property _ houses and small bank accounts, according to their submissions to the court. But until Bennett rules on that motion and the Richmond appellate court rules on the appeal of Bennett's original ruling on the motion to stay, that property will remain safe.

"It's not going to happen immediately," Summers said. "The wheels of justice turn, but they turn slow."

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