¶ 2706. Committee on Investigation-Procedures
1. Introduction-The role of the committee on investigation is to conduct an investigation into the allegations made in the judicial complaint and to determine if reasonable grounds exist to bring a bill of charges and specifications to trial. If so, it shall prepare, sign and certify a bill of charges and specifications. The committee’s duty is only to determine whether reasonable grounds exist to support the charges. It is not the committee’s duty to determine guilt or innocence.
2. Parties and Counsel-The parties are the respondent and the Church.
a) Counsel for the Church-Counsel for the Church shall be appointed as provided in ¶ 2708.7. Counsel for the Church shall be entitled to choose one assistant counsel without voice who may be an attorney.
b) Committee on Investigation-The committee on investigation may have legal counsel present, who shall not be the conference chancellor, for the sole purpose of providing advice to the committee.
c) When respondent is a bishop, a clergy member of an annual conference, clergy on honorable or administrative location, a local pastor, a
clergyperson, or a diaconal minister-A respondent who is a bishop,
a clergyperson, or a diaconal minister shall be entitled to select a
clergyperson in full connection to serve as respondent’s counsel. A respondent shall be entitled to choose one assistant counsel without voice who may be an attorney.
d) Investigation of a respondent who is a layperson-A lay respondent shall be entitled to select a lay member or clergyperson to serve as respondent’s counsel. A respondent shall be entitled to choose one assistant counsel without voice who may be an attorney.
3. Preliminary Meeting-Basic procedural decisions shall be made in a preliminary meeting. During this meeting, the respondent and the respondent’s counsel, the person making the original complaint, and the counsel for the Church shall have the right to argue procedural points before a decision is made by the chair. All advance procedural decisions and such unanticipated decisions as may come in the course of the meeting of the committee on investigation shall be rendered in writing so as to be available for consideration in all further possible stages of the case.
4. Hearing before the Committee on Investigation
a) If possible, the respondent and the person(s) bringing the original complaint shall be brought face to face, but the inability to do this shall not invalidate an investigation. Notice of the hearings shall be given to all parties, and the person(s) bringing the original complaint and they all shall be permitted to be present during testimony, but not during deliberations. Proceedings in the investigation shall be informal. No oaths shall be taken. All procedural decisions shall be made by the chairperson.
b) Interview of witness prior to or outside of hearing-The chairperson shall have the power, whenever it is appropriate in the committee’s own discretion, to appoint a member(s) of the committee to interview any witness(es), provided that all parties may be present (without voice) and that three days notice of the time and place of such interview shall have been given to all parties. The person(s) so appointed shall create a verbatim record of the interview and certify the record by signature for transmittal to the chairperson.
c) Examination of witnesses-The committee on investigation may call and question such persons or request such written information, including but not limited to materials from the supervisory process, as it deems necessary to establish whether or not there are reasonable grounds for formulating a charge or charges. The committee may receive from the counsels suggested lists of persons to be questioned, sources of written material or questions. There shall be no right of cross-examination by either the respondent or the person(s) bringing the original complaint.
d) Evidence-The committee should only consider testimony or evidence which is relevant and reliable. The chairperson or presiding officer, after consultation with counsel for both parties, shall rule on challenges to relevance and reliability. The introduction of any material relating to events barred by the statute of limitations (¶ 2702.4) as evidence, as preface to evidence, or as build-up for evidence in the procedures of the committee on investigation or the trial proceedings shall be permitted when the presiding officer, after consultation
with counsel for both parties, rules that such material is relevant and reliable.
e) Verbatim transcript-There shall be a verbatim record of all proceedings of the committee on investigation, except when the committee meets in executive session. The term executive session shall mean the committee meeting alone or with its legal counsel. If the complaint is dismissed or returned to the bishop, no verbatim record need be transcribed and the record that exists will be sent to the conference secretary for retention.
5. Bill of Charges and Specifications, Deliberations, Vote, and Referral-A vote on each charge and each specification shall be taken separately. It is incumbent on each member of the committee to base his or her vote solely on whether reasonable grounds exist to support the charges. If there are members who are unwilling to uphold the Discipline for reasons of conscience or otherwise, such members must step aside in this matter and either alternate members or others who are willing to uphold the Discipline must be appointed to the Committee to enable it to complete its responsibility.22
a) Bill of Charges and Specifications-A charge is one of the chargeable offenses listed in ¶ 2702. A charge shall not include more than one such chargeable offense. More than one charge against the same person may be presented and tried at the same time. Each charge must be written, with specifications that support the charge. Each charge must be accompanied by one or more specifications of fact. Each specification, standing alone, must allege a factual occurrence that, if found to be true, would support a finding of guilty on the related charge. The specifications should be as specific as possible with information such as date, place, and specific events alleged to have occurred.
b) Finding of reasonable grounds by committee and referral of bill of charges and specifications for trial
(1) When respondent is a bishop-A vote to adopt any charge or specification shall require five votes. Any bill of charges and specifications adopted shall be sent to the bishop charged, to the secretary of the jurisdictional or central conference, to the president and secretary of the College of Bishops, to counsel for the Church, and to the chairperson of the jurisdictional committee on the episcopacy.
(2) When respondent is a clergyperson other than a bishop-A vote to adopt any charge or specification shall require five votes. Any bill of charges and specifications adopted by the committee on investigations shall be sent by the chairperson within five days to the respondent, the person making the complaint, the secretary of the annual conference, the counsel for the Church, and the resident bishop.
(3) When respondent is a diaconal minister-A vote to adopt any charge or specification shall require two votes. Any bill of charges and specifications adopted shall be sent to the respondent within five days, the secretary of the annual conference, the chairperson of the board of ordained ministry, the respondent’s district superintendent, counsel for the Church, and the resident bishop.
(4) When respondent is a layperson-A vote to adopt any charge or specification shall require five votes. Any bill of charges and specifications adopted by the committee shall be sent to the person charged, the recording secretary of the charge conference, counsel for the Church, the pastor(s), and the district superintendent.
c) Findings other than reasonable grounds by committee or other actions
(1) If the committee on investigation determines that there are no reasonable grounds for charges, it may dismiss the judicial complaint. When deemed appropriate, it may also refer matters of concern to the proper referring Church official (to the president or secretary of the College of Bishops in the case of bishop, to the resident bishop in the case of a clergyperson or diaconal minister, or to the pastor or co-pastors in the case of layperson) for administrative or other action. Notification of these actions, should be given to the respondent, the person making the original complaint, counsel for the Church and the proper referring Church officials.
(2) If the committee on investigation determines that the judicial complaint is not based upon chargeable offenses, or for other good cause, the committee may refer the complaint to the proper referring Church official (see ¶ 2706.5c above) for administrative or other action. Such referral will not constitute a dismissal or double jeopardy under ¶ 2701.5. Notification of these actions should be given to the respondent, the person making the original complaint, counsel for the Church and the proper referring Church officials.
(3) Upon recommendation of the counsel for the Church and the counsel for the respondent, the committee may refer the matter to the resident bishop as deemed appropriate for a process seeking a just resolution. The bishop shall institute such a process and may use the assistance of a trained, impartial third party facilitator(s) or mediator(s). Such referral will not constitute a dismissal or double jeopardy under ¶ 2701.5. The appropriate persons, including the counsel for the Church and counsel for the respondent, should enter into a written agreement outlining the process, including any agreements on confidentiality. If resolution is achieved, a written statement, affirming such resolution, including any terms and conditions, shall be signed by the parties and they shall agree on any matters to be disclosed to third parties. If the resolution results in a change of ministerial status, the disclosure agreement shall not prevent the Disciplinary disclosures required for readmission. Such a written statement shall be given to the bishop for further action consistent with the agreement. If the process does not result in resolution, the matter shall be returned to the committee.
22. See Judicial Council Decision 980.