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Decision No. 867

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October 28 1999
In Re: Review of Bishop's Decision of Law in the West Michigan Annual Conference on Questions of Procedures and Law from a Clergy Member Placed on Administrative Leave.

Digest of Case

The decision of Bishop Donald Ott that the questions presented to him at the West Michigan Annual Conference Clergy Session, June 2, 1999, are questions which are procedural or substantive matters relating solely to actions in a judicial or administrative process and are not proper questions to be addressed in a substantive ruling by a bishop is affirmed.

Statement of Facts

During the clergy session of the West Michigan Annual Conference held on June 2, 1999, a clergy member of that annual conference posed five "questions of procedures and law" to Bishop Donald A. Ott. Bishop Ott responded to the five questions presented by the clergy member as "matters of procedure and law" arising out of an administrative complaint and administrative processes of the Board of Ordained Ministry and the annual conference. He stated that all five questions arise out of administrative processes and are therefore not proper for an episcopal ruling. Jurisdiction The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under the provisions of Par. 2613 of the 1996 Discipline. Analysis and Rationale The Judicial Council reviewed the questions of law put before the bishop of the West Michigan Annual Conference concerning administrative process. In each case the bishop ruled that "The question(s) are not proper for an episcopal ruling." Judicial Council Decisions 830 and 799 state that "Fair process applies to administrative as well as judicial process. However, fair process does not apply to supervisory situations. Questions of fair process are not proper questions of law for substantive ruling by a bishop." Decision 830 further states that "questions relating to administrative actions by properly constituted bodies are not proper questions of law for substantive answers by a bishop." Decision 799 says that "when the bishop determines that the question presented is not a properly presented 'question of law,' the bishop shall state the rationale in the ruling without further substantive commentary."

Decision

The decision of Bishop Donald Ott that the questions presented to him at the West Michigan Annual Conference Clergy Session, June 2, 1999, are questions which are procedural or substantive matters relating solely to actions in a judicial or administrative process and are not proper questions to be addressed in a substantive ruling by a bishop is affirmed.

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