Skip Navigation

Book of Discipline: ¶ 2704 Referral of Original Complaint to Counsel for the Church

¶ 2704. Referral of Original Complaint to Counsel for the Church, Who Shall Prepare Judicial Complaint and Supporting Material for Consideration by Committee on Investigation

1. When respondent is a bishop

a) Judicial Complaint - A complaint based on allegations that a bishop has committed one or more of the offenses listed in ¶ 2702 shall initially be served on the president and secretary of the College of Bishops. Upon receipt of the complaint the president of the College of Bishops shall forthwith deliver a copy of the complaint to the respondent bishop, notify active bishops of the existence and nature of the complaint, and refer the complaint to an elder in full connection within the same jurisdictional or central conference, who shall serve as counsel for the Church. Counsel for the Church shall represent the interests of the Church in pressing the claims of the person making the complaint. Counsel for the Church shall have the right to choose one assistant counsel without voice who may be an attorney. The counsel for the Church shall draft and sign the complaint as a judicial complaint, forward it to the jurisdictional or central conference committee on investigation (¶ 2704), and represent the Church in the judicial process. The fair process provisions in ¶ 2701 shall apply to this judicial process. The statute of limitations in ¶ 2702.4 should be considered prior to the referral of a judicial complaint.19

b) If a written complaint is made against a bishop for any of the offenses in ¶ 2702.1, the counsel for the Church, as appointed under ¶ 2704.1a, shall prepare, sign, and forward the judicial complaint and all documentary evidence under consideration to the chairperson of the committee on investigation, the person making the original complaint, and the bishop being charged (respondent). The respondent shall be given an opportunity to submit to the committee on investigation a written response to the judicial complaint within thirty days of receipt of the judicial complaint. The chairperson shall convene the committee on investigation within sixty days of receiving the judicial complaint.

c) If five or more members of the committee on investigation so recommend, the jurisdictional committee on the episcopacy may suspend the respondent pending the conclusion of the trial process.

2. When respondent is a clergy member of an annual conference, clergy on honorable or administrative location or a local pastor 

a) Judicial Complaint - If the bishop determines that the complaint is based on allegations of one or more offenses listed in ¶ 2702.1, the bishop shall refer the complaint to the counsel for the Church, who shall be appointed by the bishop. The counsel for the Church shall be a clergyperson in full connection and shall have the right to choose one assistant counsel without voice who may be an attorney. The counsel for the Church shall draft and sign a judicial complaint, attaching as exhibits all relevant written materials, including but not limited to information from the supervisory process and a suggested list of witnesses as deemed appropriate, forward the judicial complaint to the committee on investigation and represent the Church in the judicial process. The statute of limitations in ¶ 2702.4 should be considered prior to the referral of a judicial complaint.

b) If a written complaint is made against a clergyperson for any of the offenses in ¶ 2702.1, the bishop shall appoint a clergyperson in full connection as counsel for the Church (see ¶ 361.1d[1]). Counsel for the Church shall prepare, sign, and refer the judicial complaint, with all relevant material, to the chairperson of the conference committee on investigation and represent the interests of the Church in pressing the claims of the person making the original complaint in any proceedings before the committee. A copy of the complaint and documentary evidence under consideration shall be sent to the respondent, the person making the original complaint, and the bishop. The respondent shall be given an opportunity to submit to the committee on investigation a written response to the judicial complaint within thirty days of receipt of the judicial complaint. The chairperson of the conference committee on investigation shall have sixty days to convene the committee on investigation after receiving the judicial complaint.

c) If five or more members of the committee on investigation so recommend, the bishop may suspend the person charged from all clergy responsibilities pending the outcome of the judicial process. The respondent retains all rights and privileges as stated in ¶ 334.

19. The statute of limitations for bishops went into effect as law on a prospective basis on April 27, 1996. All alleged offenses that occurred prior to this date are time-barred. See Judicial Council Decisions 691, 704, and 761.

From The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2012. Copyright 2012 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

Category: Book of Discipline Folders
Tags: