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Decision No. 1092

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April 28 2008
In Re: Continuation of Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the California-Nevada Annual Conference Concerning Involuntary Leave of Absence, Administrative and Judicial Process, and Voluntary or Involuntary Retirement as Required by Decision 1088.

Digest of Case

Bishops have no authority to make substantive rulings on judicial or administrative matters that are under the purview of judicial or administrative bodies such as the Committee on Investigation, Trial Court, Committee on Appeals or Judicial Council. The decision of the Bishop is affirmed.

Statement of Facts

At the 2007 regular session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, a clergy member made a written request for a decision of law on six questions related to administrative and judicial procedures concerning a clergy person in the Conference. The presiding bishop ruled that:

Based on Judicial Council Decision 799, which states, in part, “substantive rulings by a bishop which come under the purview of the judicial and/or administrative process are improper”, my response to [the clergy member] and my ruling on his questions of law was that his questions were improper.
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2609.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
In Decision 799 the Judicial Council stated in relevant part:
The bishop has no authority to make substantive rulings on judicial or administrative matters. Such matters are limited to the purview of the judicial or administrative bodies such as the Committee on Investigation, Trial Court, Committee on Appeals or Judicial Council. The Constitution (¶ 18) and the 1996 Discipline (¶¶ 358, 2623, and 2626-2628) have placed the authority to resolve such questions in these bodies. To do otherwise would violate the principle of separation and balance of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches as set forth in the Constitution.
(Emphasis added). Questions regarding judicial and administrative processes must be dealt with in the appropriate manner and through the bodies set forth in the Discipline. Review of such matters may be sought by request for a declaratory decision by an authorized body. We trust that annual conferences will be prudent in their use of such processes.
Decision
Bishops have no authority to make substantive rulings on judicial or administrative matters that are under the purview of judicial or administrative bodies such as the Committee on Investigation, Trial Court, Committee on Appeals or Judicial Council. The decision of the Bishop is affirmed. Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, participated in this decision.

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