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Decision No. 969

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October 23 2003
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the South Carolina Annual Conference on the Applicability of ¶604.14 of the 2000 Discipline Concerning Open Meetings to the Clergy Session of the Annual Conference.

Digest of Case

The decision of Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey that the request for a decision of law was improper because questions of law shall be germane to the regular business, consideration, or discussion of the Annual Conference and shall state the connection to a specific action taken, and the question must be raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter upon which the conference takes action is affirmed.

Statement of Facts

A lay member of the South Carolina Annual Conference submitted the following request for a ruling of law to Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey during the 2003 session: Does paragraph 604.14 concerning “open meetings” apply to the clergy session? In answer to this request, the bishop on June 28, 2003, made the following ruling: The question is moot because it is improperly stated as a request for a decision of law when it is in fact a request for a declaratory decision. The bishop has no authority to respond to a request for a declaratory decision. JURISDICTION The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2000 Discipline. ANALYSIS AND RATIONALE The bishop correctly decided that the request for a decision of law was improper because questions of law shall be germane to the regular business, consideration, or discussion of the annual conference and shall state the connection to a specific action taken, and the question must be raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter upon which the conference takes action. (Decision 799) The bishop correctly decided that the question is moot because it was improperly stated as a request for a decision of law when it was in fact a request for a declaratory decision. A bishop has no authority to render a declaratory decision. The Judicial Council affirms the ruling of the bishop.

Decision

The decision of Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey that the request for a decision of law was improper because question of law shall be germane to the regular business, consideration, or discussion of the Annual Conference and shall state the connection to a specific action taken, and the question must be raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter upon which the conference takes action is affirmed. Sally Brown Geis was absent.

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