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Decision No. 816

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October 24 1997
In Re: Review of Decisions of Law of Bishop Hae-Jong Kim in the North Central New York Annual Conference Related to Withdrawal of a Clergy Member Under Complaint.

Digest of Case

All actions taken by the North Central New York Conference related to the conference relationship of the clergyperson are null and void. The matter is remanded to the Committee on Investigation. We defer action on the rulings of the bishop and retain jurisdiction of this matter until the proper disciplinary process is completed.

Statement of Facts

At the 1997 session of the North Central New York Annual Conference Bishop Hae-Jong Kim was asked a series of questions related to the withdrawal of a clergy member under complaint and the subsequent actions of the clergy session to amend that withdrawal. Bishop Kim responded within the allotted 30 day period, and the matter is properly before the Judicial Council. The questions asked and Bishop Kim's responses follow: l. (Para. 358) Does the clergy session have authority to require some indication (proof) that the clergy person and complainant have reached reconciliation. Response: The 1997 North Central New York Conference Clergy Session did not ask for "some indication (proof) that the clergy person and complainant have reached reconciliation." Therefore in keeping with Judicial Council 433, the question is hypothetical and "Moot and hypothetical questions shall not be decided." 2. (Para. 2629) Does the 1997 clergy session have authority to amend the 1996 Journal, when the clergyperson "withdrew under charges" by action of the 1996 clergy session? Response: A clergy session has the authority to amend its record in light of subsequent information that, in effect, removed the charges against the clergy person. l. An Annual Conference is the owner of its actions and has authority to change its actions. 2. A bishop and a clergy session are responsible for insuring fair process and justice for those under their care. Upon receipt of information that shows the charges were based on false information or upon receipt of information that indicates that the complaints have subsequently been retracted, the record can be changed to reflect this information. 3. As part of a legal settlement, statements attesting to reconciliation between the parties were attained, as well as a statement of retraction of the complaints. 3. What actions must a clergyperson take to indicate his/her "desire to withdraw" under complaints under para. 453.3 (1992 Book of Discipline? Response: Para. 453.4 of the 1992 Book of Discipline does not state what actions a clergy person must take to indicate a desire to withdraw under complaints. The question, however, is hypothetical and therefore in keeping with Judicial Council Decision #33, no decision is rendered. 4. If the clergy session amends the 1996 record to read "withdrawal to unite with another denomination," what date must be used? (The 1996 Clergy Session acted on the information available at that time. If new information is available to the 1997 clergy session, what options are available for modification of the record?) Response: The date of the original action is to be used. While the clergy session did indeed act on information available at the time, the purpose of the action to amend the record is to restore a clergy person's reputation after having received information removing evidence of a chargeable offense. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Par. 2613 of the 1996 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale The facts in this case are unclear. What is clear is that there was a withdrawal under complaint by a clergy member prior to the 1996 session of the Annual Conference. Whether proper procedure for handling a complaint as delineated in the 1992 Discipline was followed is not clear. This matter is remanded to the Committee on Investigation for a Fair Process Hearing (Par. 2622, 1992 Discipline) to determine "whether or not there are reasonable grounds for formulating a charge or charges." (Par. 2625.1(e), 1992 Discipline) If the evidence is insufficient, the matter should be dismissed. These proceedings are to be done according to the 1992 Discipline. All actions taken by the North Central New York Conference related to the conference relationship of the clergyperson are null and void. We defer action on the rulings of the bishop and retain jurisdiction of this matter until the proper disciplinary process is completed.

Decision

All actions taken by the North Central New York Conference related to the conference relationship of the clergyperson are null and void. We defer action on the rulings of the bishop and retain jurisdiction of this matter until the proper disciplinary process is completed.

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