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Decision No. 1011

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April 28 2005
In Re: Request from the California-Pacific Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Meaning, Application and Effect of ¶ 633 of the 2000 Discipline Concerning the Responsibilities of the Administrative Review Committee.

Digest of Case

The administrative review committee’s function is to ensure that the procedures applied in reaching a decision on certain disciplinary actions comply with the requirements of the Book of Discipline. The administrative review committee does not review the substantive merits of the decision, and it has no authority to determine the constitutionality of disciplinary processes.

Statement of Facts

The 2004 session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference requested a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on the following question:

Does the scope of the work of the Administrative Review Committee (¶ 633) include: a. in light of Judicial Council Decision 830 which says that “Fair process is a constitutional, as well as disciplinary, [sic] right …” determining whether a respondent’s right to Fair Process may include rights that are not specifically delineated in ¶ 359.2c, other paragraphs of the Discipline and/or Judicial Council Decisions; b. determining that processes in the Discipline are unconstitutional and/or illegal in light of Judicial Council Decisions or other sections of the Discipline; c. determining whether the processes carried out in Supervision (¶ 359.1) were adequate, constitutional, and in accord with the standards of Fair Process in Supervision including those delineated in ¶ 359.1.b and Judicial Council Decisions 972 and 974?
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2000 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 633 of the 2000 Discipline sets out the purpose and scope of work that an administrative review committee is required to perform. Paragraph 633, in part, provides:
There will be an administrative review committee. . . . Its only purpose shall be to ensure that the disciplinary procedures for involuntary leave of absence (¶ 352.1b), involuntary retirement (¶ 356.3), or administrative location (¶ 359.3c) are properly followed. The entire administrative process leading to the action for change in conference relationship shall be reviewed by the administrative review committee, and it shall report its findings to the clergy session of members in full connection with the annual conference prior to any action of the annual conference.
The first part of the request from the California-Pacific Annual Conference seeks a declaration as to whether the “scope of the work of the administrative review committee . . . include[s] . . . determining whether a respondent’s right to Fair Process may include rights that are not specifically delineated in ¶ 356.2c, other paragraphs of the Discipline and/or Judicial Council Decisions.” Under the Discipline, the administrative review committee serves only to ensure that all disciplinary procedures for certain actions taken administratively are properly followed. In Decision 921, the Judicial Council held,
“[t]he function of the administrative review committee is not to review the substantive merits of the decision being forwarded to the annual conference for final action, but rather to ensure that the procedures applied in reaching the decision have complied with the Discipline.”
If it does determine that an error has occurred in the process, “it may recommend to the appropriate person or body that action be taken promptly to remedy the error, decide the error is harmless, or take other action.” ¶ 633. The scope of the work of the administrative review committee does not extend to determining whether a respondent’s right to fair process includes rights that are not specifically delineated in the Discipline and/or Judicial Council decisions. The second part of the request seeks a declaratory decision on whether the administrative review committee’s work includes determining that processes in the Discipline are unconstitutional and/or illegal in light of Judicial Council Decisions or other sections of the Discipline. The administrative review committee does not have the authority to determine that disciplinary processes are unconstitutional. The authority to determine the constitutionality of any act of the General Conference rests solely with the Judicial Council. See ¶ 54 of the Constitution, 2000 Discipline. The third request asks if the work of the administrative review committee includes “determining whether the processes carried out in Supervision (¶ 359.1) were adequate, constitutional, and in accord with the standards of Fair Process in Supervision including those delineated in ¶ 359.1b and Judicial Council Decisions 972 and 974.” The supervisory process while pastoral is also administrative. See ¶ 359.1b of the Discipline. The administrative review committee reviews the procedural aspects of the supervisory process to ensure compliance with the Discipline.
Decision
The administrative review committee’s function is to ensure that the procedures applied in reaching a decision on certain disciplinary actions comply with the requirements of the Book of Discipline. The administrative review committee does not review the substantive merits of the decision, and it has no authority to determine the constitutionality of disciplinary processes. Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, participated in this decision.

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