Bishops earn victory in dispute
‘Castle Church for the Redemption of the Office Bishop’ not a legal trust
BY JEFF TUCKER THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Jim Bishop and his family scored a victory recently in their efforts to reclaim
and secure their family legacy.
A district judge in El Paso County ruled in favor of the Bishops in their civil
suit, filed to reassert possession of the famous castle Bishop spent his life
building, stone-by-stone, in Custer County.
District Court Judge Marla Prudek ruled Friday that David Merrill had failed to
respond to claims the Bishops made in their case and that Merrill’s counterclaim
against the Bishops also failed to do so.
Jim and Phoebe Bishop filed a suit in June against Merrill, claiming that he
falsified documents and fooled the Bishops into thinking they were conveying the
castle into a trust to take advantage of favorable tax conditions.
Instead, the trust never existed and the Bishops were coerced into deeding the
property to Merrill personally, as a trustee to the nonexistent :Castle Church
for the Redemption of the Office Bishop."
The suit claimed that Merrill drew up fake documents suggesting a trust had
been formed when he did nothing of the sort. The suit claims Merrill then
furthered his fraud by convincing the Bishops, who were suffering from the
effects of Jim Bishop's cancer treatment, to sign the warrantee deeds.
Based on Merrill's refusal to actually respond to the Bishops' claims, Prudek
ordered that the allegations are true and invalidated the warranty deeds.
Furthermore, the ruling prevents Merrill from acting as a trustee for the
castle or even setting foot on the grounds. He isn't allowed to assert any
authority over the castle, access any of its files or change the name of the
property with the San Isabel Electric Corp.
The order also awards the Bishops coast and attorney's fees and the Bishop's
daughter Donita Bishop said Thursday that they reach into the $20,000 range.
The problem is that the Bishops must pay those bills first before restitution is
awarded, she said.
So a meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson in
Colorado Springs to come up with potential fundraising options to pay off the
In the meantime, the family is working on crafting the legal framework to keep
Bishop's Castle in the family.
Donita said the Castle will eventually be put into her brother Daniel's name so
that the Bishop legacy is protected.