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Memorandum No. 1154

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October 29 2010
In Re: Request for Reconsideration of Judicial Council Decision 1151

Reconsideration denied. Susan T. Henry-Crowe and F. Belton Joyner, Jr., recused themselves and did not participate in any of the proceedings related to this decision. Joe May, first clergy alternate, participated in this decision. October 30, 2010 CONCURRING OPINION The concern addressed in my dissent in Decision 1151 centered upon the alarming number of references to “off the record conferences” contained in the record of Trial Court proceedings. These “off the record conferences” and other unfortunate misadventures are evidence that the Trial Court proceedings were conducted with embarrassing maladroitness. The Discipline emphasizes the need for strict adherence to the standards of fair process and is clear that a verbatim transcript of Trial Court proceedings is to be maintained. The transcript of Trial Court proceedings must include all activity that transpires while the Trial Court is in session in order to demonstrate fair process. For reasons that are not clear, the Secretary of the Trial Court has filed a sua sponte response to the Respondent’s request for reconsideration. He was neither requested nor required to do so. Nevertheless, the Secretary offers that he conducted a review of all of the “off the record conferences” noted in the Montgomery trial transcript in an effort to determine the actual nature of those many notations. Though seemingly well intentioned, the Secretary’s review of the 90 “off the record conferences” has exacerbated rather than allayed the concerns expressed in the dissent. His filing candidly admits that the true nature of nearly one-third of the “off the record conferences” cannot accurately be determined because the nature of the discussion is not clear from the context of the Trial Court proceedings. Notwithstanding its questionable efficacy, the Secretary’s filing was presented within the time frames set forth in the Rules of Practice & Procedure of the Judicial Council. The same cannot be said for the brief of the South Carolina Annual Conference. The Annual Conference brief was not timely filed and no explanation for its lateness has been offered. The late filing by the Annual Conference demonstrates a lack of due regard for the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Council and suggests that its approach to the Church’s established processes and procedures is less than meticulous. Counsel for the Church and for a respondent party play a special role in carrying out disciplinary processes in the context of Trial Court proceedings. However, Trial Court officers should avoid putting themselves in the position of offering post hoc justifications for apparent lapses or deficiencies in Trial Court procedures. Trial Court officers are not competent to attest to or to rebut Trial Court proceedings by offering their own version of what transpired or by attempting to explain away glaring irregularities. Because the Judicial Council is not a fact finding body, we do not engage in judging the credibility of witnesses. These and similar post hoc efforts to clothe a naked emperor ask the Judicial Council to rely upon the credibility of persons who had no testimonial role in the Trial Court proceedings. A verbatim record of a Trial Court must serve in all respects as its own verification. We do not permit bystanders to supplement annual conference proceedings nor do we allow parties to offer gratuitous statements or alternative versions of an annual conference record. This principle has even greater application in a Trial Court setting. The Secretary’s newly minted version of what transpired during the many “off the record conferences” has done nothing to rehabilitate the Trial Court record or to undo the grave injustice perpetrated upon the Respondent. All participants of a Trial Court must diligently and scrupulously adhere to disciplinary provisions so that the record of Trial Court proceedings will clearly demonstrate strict compliance with fair process standards as required by the Discipline. Notwithstanding the grave concerns that I expressed in my dissent and that yet remain, I concur with my colleagues in the denial of reconsideration of Decision 1151. Jon R. Gray October 30, 2010 CONCURRING OPINION In Decision 1151, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church reviewed the trial and appeal of Rev. Jimmy Montgomery and found that there were no errors of Church law as to vitiate the verdict and/or penalty of the Trial Court. The verdict of the trial court was affirmed. The weight of the evidence presented to the Trial Court was sufficient to sustain the charges of immorality under ¶ 2702.1(a) of the 2004 Discipline, disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church under ¶ 2702.1(e) of the 2004 Discipline, and sexual misconduct under ¶ 2702.1(j) of the 2004 Discipline of which Dr. Jimmy J. Montgomery was found guilty. After review of the request for reconsideration, the Judicial Council denies reconsideration. Katherine Austin Mahle Ruben Reyes October 30, 2010

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