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October 26 2006
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Concerning Suspension under ¶ 2704.2c of the 2004 Book of Discipline, and Fair Process, Confidentiality and Supervisory Response under ¶362 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
The record supplied is less than complete. The Judicial Council received the minutes of the Clergy Session of the 2006 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference from the Secretary of the Conference. The minutes do not reflect the request for or the content of any questions of law submitted to the presiding bishop. No record of the Annual Conference action or procedure concerning such questions was submitted. Annual conference secretaries have an obligation under ¶ 2609 of the 2004 Discipline to provide the minutes of proceedings and an exact statement of the questions submitted. Such information is required to be entered in the minutes and in the annual conference journal. It is essential for the purpose of review that the Judicial Council receive the minutes of proceedings and the exact wording of the questions as submitted.
The Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction.
October 27, 2006
Mary A. Daffin and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent.
Paragraph 2609 of the 2004 Book of Discipline provides that questions of law are to be submitted to bishops in writing in the regular business of a session of a central, district, annual or jurisdictional conference. If questions of law are not submitted in writing and/or are not submitted in the regular business of a session, the questions of law have not been submitted properly, the bishop is not to answer them and, in my view, if the bishop does answer such questions not submitted properly, the bishop’s decision of law is null and void, and of no effect. Where the bishop receives questions of law, but they are not submitted properly, in my view, the bishop still must make report of the receipt of such questions and the circumstances of their receipt, so that the Judicial Council can review whether the questions were in fact submitted improperly. Where questions of law are not submitted properly, the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction over such questions and any decision of law rendered, and thus I concur in the decision of the Judicial Council here.
In this case, the minutes submitted by the Secretary of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference do not mention the submission of any questions of law to the bishop in writing in the regular business of a session. Thus, there is nothing in the minutes of the Annual Conference session that indicates that questions of law were submitted in writing or the context in which the questions were submitted. The bishop did not file a Bishop’s Report To The Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church on the form provided for that purpose. Instead, the presiding bishop filed a “Response to Questions of Law” with the Secretary of the Judicial Council dated July 18, 2006. The bishop’s response does not provide any information to the Judicial Council as to when, how or in what form the questions of law reached the bishop and prompted the “response.”
Thus, from the record supplied to the Judicial Council, the Council cannot determine that the questions were submitted in such a way as to comply with ¶ 2609 of the 2004 Discipline.
Keith D. Boyette
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