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Decision No. 574

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October 23 1986
In Re: A Review of a Ruling by Bishop Roy Santo at the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Session, June 1986, Concerning the Constitution of a Committee on Investigation.

Digest of Case

The question before the Judicial Council concerns whether a Committee on Investigation of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference was constituted in accordance with 2623.3(a) 1984 Discipline . This matter is before the Council under our Rule X under the provisions of 2612 of the Discipline. The presiding bishop, Roy I. Sano, was requested, in writing to make a ruling on that question concerning the makeup of the Committee on Investigation. He ruled that the Committee was duly constituted. Questions were raised in three areas. First, the question raised concerned the selection of a reserve member. The first reserve member was not qualified because that person had been a party to prior proceedings in the case. Therefore, the next reserve member, on the basis of seniority, became a member of the Committee. It is reported to the Council that reserves were considered in order of seniority. There is no impropriety here. The second question was raised because a District Superintendent was a member of the Committee. It is suggested that the District Superintendent had prior involvement because he was involved in the appointment of the person accused. Bishop Sano ruled: The role of district superintendents in evaluating effectiveness and reporting standing therefore is distinguishable from participation in prior proceedings in determining the status of ministerial members of an Annual Conference. The Annual Conference has been engaged in determining standing through the due process provided in the Discipline. The district superintendent in question has not been a party to the prior proceedings followed in paragraph 455.1a-d before he participated in the investigative phase provided in paragraphs 2620-2623.1 and .3. Because the former district superintendent was not "a party to any of the prior proceedings in (this) case" (paragraph 2623.3a), he should be retained as a member of the Committee and not be disqualified. This is the proper action in constituting the committee. The third question was similar and was raised because a former member of the Board of Ordained Ministry was a member of the committee and had been a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry at the same time as the accused minister. The minister in question was no longer on the board at the time the Board of Ordained Ministry deliberated on the matter in question. The presiding bishop ruled correctly that that minister should be retained on the committee. The constitution of a Committee on Investigation is a difficult matter at best. The close relationship, likened to a "family" relationship of those serving in the ministry would make it impossible to constitute a committee of persons who had not had both formal and informal contacts with any accused who is a ministerial member of an Annual Conference. The provisions for selection are explicit and have not been violated in this instance. We affirm the bishop's ruling. This opinion, of course, does not go to the merits of the case but solely to the procedures followed in appointing the committee.

Decision

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