Petition 81107

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Judicial Conduct (81107-JA-¶2600)

Create a new ¶ 2605.  Subsequent paragraphs shall be appropriately renumbered.
  
¶2605.  A Committee on Judicial Conduct shall be created.  This body shall have the responsibility to receive and act upon complaints made against members of the Judicial Council related to incapacity, immoral conduct, breach of trust, or actions that undermine the integrity of the Judicial Council or in other ways violate fair and impartial judicial administration.
  
    1.  Authority of the Committee—The committee shall have the authority to sanction, suspend for a definite period, or dismiss members from the Judicial Council.
  
    2.   Scope of complaints—A complaint under this paragraph shall relate to membership on the Judicial Council only, and shall not constitute an administrative or judicial proceeding against a clergyperson, local pastor, diaconal minister, or lay member under Division 4, Article IV, ¶58 of the Constitution, ¶¶228, 235, 362, 413, or 2702ff.
  
  
  
3.  Composition of the Committee—The committee shall be composed of 7 members and should reflect the diversity of the United Methodist Church, including racial, ethnic, gender,  
jurisdiction and central conferences.   There shall be three laypersons, three clergypersons and one bishop on the committee.  Lay and clergypersons shall serve for eight years, providing that for the years 2008-2012 the terms of one layperson and two clergypersons shall be for only four years in order to establish rotating classes.  Bishops shall be appointed to serve on a case-by-case basis.  Alternates shall serve for four years.
    
   4.  Nominations and Elections—The Council of Bishops shall nominate three times the number of clergypersons and three times the number of laypersons needed to constitute the committee.  At the same daily session at which these nominations are announced, nominations of both clergypersons and laypersons may be made from the floor, but at no other time.  The General Conference shall elect clergypersons and laypersons to the committee so as to satisfy the requirements of ¶2605.3 Voting shall continue until the required number of persons in each category have received a majority of the votes cast on a particular ballot.  Persons not elected but receiving the next highest vote totals in each category shall be considered first and second alternates.
  
    5.  Constituting the Committee—All complaints against a member of the Judicial Council shall be made to the President of the Council of Bishops.  When a complaint is received, the President shall designate a member of the Council of Bishops, active or retired, to convene the  
  

Committee on Judicial Conduct.  The designated bishop shall preside at the organizing meeting of the committee until such time as the body elects a chairperson and a secretary.  The designated bishop shall remain an active, voting member of the committee until the case has been completed.  
    
6.  Rights of the Accused—The member of the Judicial Council against whom the complaint has been received (the respondent) shall have the right to review the complaint.  The respondent shall have the opportunity to be heard by the Committee on Judicial Conduct under such rules of procedure as the committee may determine.  Should the respondent refuse to participate, the complaint process shall continue without the participation of the respondent.  No hearing shall be held without a fully constituted Committee on Judicial Conduct present.  The fair process principles in ¶362.3.a,b,d and e shall apply.

    7. Dismissal of Complaint—The committee, with the affirmative vote of at least five members, may dismiss the complaint without holding a hearing and provide a written report to the Council of Bishops summarizing its findings and reasons for dismissal.  

    8.  Complaints Procedure—If the complaint is not dismissed, the committee shall hold a hearing on the matter at which the complainant and the respondent shall be entitled to be present.  The respondent may be accompanied by a person of his/her own choosing who will have the privilege of voice.  The complainant may be likewise accompanied.  The committee shall make findings of fact and decide upon what action(s) to apply to the member.  If the committee  
  
recommends dismissal from the Judicial Council, that action shall require at least five votes.  All lesser actions shall require a simple majority.  The committee shall issue a written report of its  
investigation and its findings and a statement of its action(s) to the full Council of Bishops.  The decision shall be made public.
    9.  Appeals—The respondent may appeal the decision of the Committee on Judicial Conduct to the full Council of Bishops.  The chair of the committee shall present at that time its findings of fact, decision and actions to the Council of Bishops.  The accused member and the complainant shall have the privilege of addressing the Council of Bishops.  The Council of Bishops, by a majority vote, may sustain or modify the rulings of the committee.  Its decision shall be final.  

Rationale

There is no provision in the Book of Discipline for removal of a member of the Judicial Council for incapacity or inappropriate behavior.  This is in contrast to how we hold others accountable at every level of the Church.