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Decision No. 66

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April 28 1949
In Re: Election of Conference Lay Leader Bishop's Ruling-Kentucky Annual Conference 1948

Digest of Case

The Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction to review the decision of a Bishop not requested or made in open session of an Annual or District Conference.

Statement of Facts

From the many documents and papers submitted and other relevant evidence in this case, we find the essential facts, stated as concisely as possible, to be as follows: A. NOMINATION OF CONFERENCE LAY LEADER In connection with the regular session of the Kentucky Annual Conference, at Richmond, Ky., on August 27, 1948, there was held a meeting of the Conference Board of Lay Activities. The total membership of the Board was 40, but only 18 attended. At this meeting a ballot was taken for nomination of Conference Lay Leader resulting in nine votes for Carl W. Haggard and eight votes for Marcus C, Redwine, and this was duly recorded in the minutes of the meeting. B. CONFERENCE ACTION ON BOARD OF LAY ACTIVITIES NOMINATION The record of the proceedings of the Kentucky Annual Conference, Saturday afternoon session, August 28, 1948 (See Journal Kentucky Conference 1948, page 34), shows the following: "Board of Lay Activities, Marcus Redwine asked for a ruling on the number required to make a legal meeting of the Board of Lay Activities. Bishop Watkins discussed ordinary procedures and then ruled that on the day specified there was not a quorum present at the meeting of the Board of Lay Activities, and that the nomination to the Conference was not valid." In a subsequent explanatory paper filed in this case, the Bishop stated the basis of his ruling to be that Rule 21 of the Standing Rules of the Kentucky Annual Conference provides "The rules of the preceding General Conference, insofar as they may apply, otherwise Robert's Rules of Order, Revised, shall govern the procedure in the Annual Conference," and that according to these Rules no quorum was present at the meeting of the Board of Lay Activities on August 27, 1948, and, therefore, it was not a legal meeting. Thereafter in answer to Disciplinary Question 14, "Who is elected Conference Lay Leader," it was recorded "No one." C. SUSPENSION OF RULES, AND ELECTION OF CONFERENCE LAY LEADER. Later in the same afternoon session of Conference, a motion was made, and carried to suspend Rule 21 of the Annual Conference. This was followed by a motion made and carried that the meeting of the Board of Lay Activities of the previous day be declared a legal meeting and its nomination for Lay Leader be placed before the Conference. The report of the Board then being read and Disciplinary Question No. 14 being again read, the Conference elected Carl W. Haggard as Conference Lay Leader. D. PETITION TO PRESIDING BISHOP On the following day, Sunday, August 29, at the closing session of the Conference, while the appointments were being read, but after a motion to adjourn sine die, a paper was delivered to the Conference Secretary, which paper was intended as a request for Bishop's ruling on the action of the Conference of the preceding day, or in the alternative, to act as an appeal to the Judicial Council on the whole record. There is no record of this petition in the Conference Journal. E. BISHOP'S DECISION However, as a subsequent date, to wit, September 20, 1948, the Presiding Bishop prepared a paper which appears on page 130 of the Conference Journal. In brief, this restated the issue on which a decision was requested as follows:"Was the act of the Kentucky Annual Conference in suspending rules and declaring the meeting of the Board of Lay Activities legal and valid on August 28, 1948, itself a valid procedure?" To which the Bishop answered: "I hold that the act of the Annual Conference in suspending rules and declaring the meeting of the Board of Lay Activities on August 27, 1948, valid, is a fully legal act, and that Mr. Carl W. Haggard, elected on the hearing of the reading of the minutes of the Board of Lay Activities at which he was nominated, is the legal Lay Leader of the Kentucky Annual Conference." This decision of the Bishop forms no part of the proceedings of the Conference as such and is not entered on the minutes. In addition to the foregoing facts, many other statements and papers were submitted to the Council attempting to set out in detail the motives of the parties, the conversations, each step taken by the laymen to secure a ruling or an appeal, and explaining exactly when and how the paper entitled "Motion and Petition" was filed in relation thereto. It would seem, however, that these are irrelevant and that the essential facts are those disclosed by the record as above.


As to whether the Judicial Council can determine the merits of the questions involved in this ease depends entirely upon the question as to whether or not the Council has jurisdiction under the unusual and rather involved facts and circumstances outlined above. The jurisdiction of the Judicial Council in such cases is defined by the Constitution as follows; Discipline Paragraph 43, "The Judicial Council shall have authority: "2. To hear and determine any appeal from a Bishop's decision on a question of law made in the Annual or District Conference when said appeal has been made by one-fifth of that Conference present and voting. "3. To pass upon decisions of law made by bishops in Annual or District Conferences." The procedure in such cases is further defined in Paragraph 908 and Paragraph 909 of the Discipline. From the statement of facts it will be noted that in this particular case we do not have before us any appeal from a Bishop's decision to conform to Paragraph 43 (2) and Paragraph 908; nor do we have any decision of law made by a Bishop and made a part of the record to conform to Paragraph 43 (3) and Paragraph 909. It is perhaps to be regretted that the required procedure to give the Judicial Council jurisdiction was not followed, so that such important questions as to the nomination and election of Conference Lay Leader could be properly adjudicated. Therefore, in declining to take jurisdiction of this case, it must be understood that we neither affirm nor overrule any ruling or statement of the presiding Bishop. Neither is this action to be construed as any reflection on the worthy laymen concerned in this matter. However, for the reason stated, the Judicial Council holds that on the state of the record, it has now no jurisdiction over the subject matter.

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