Petition 81315

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Conflicts of Interest and Recusal (81315-JA-¶2607)

Amend the title of ¶2607, amend the sub-paragraph ¶2607.2, and add a new sub-paragraph after ¶2607.2 as follows:
  
Amend title of ¶2607 by adding “and Conflicts of Interest,” so that the title will read, “Confidentiality, Ex Parte Communication, and Conflicts of Interest.”
  
Amend ¶2607.2 as follows:
2. Prior to the decision of a case in question, members of the Judicial Council shall not discuss with any party matters of substance pending in the judicial process unless all parties are privy to the discussion. Nor shall members of the Judicial Council or staff allow to be published or communicated, including electronic communications, to third parties any matters of substance pending in the judicial process.
The Judicial Council shall in all cases in which a decision or memorandum is issued set forth the specific provisions of the Constitution or the Discipline that provide the basis of the decision and the rationale that led to the conclusion.  Each decision or memorandum shall include the names of each participating member of the Judicial Council and how each voted on the matter.  Each decision or memorandum shall indicate each member absent or recused on the matter.  Each member who is recused on a matter shall provide a statement of reasons for recusal which shall be attached to the decision or memorandum.

Add a new ¶2607.3:
3. The Judicial Council shall adopt a conflicts of interest policy applicable to its members, staff, and volunteers, if any.  The policy shall include the following requirements:
a) A member shall not participate in or take part in deliberations on a matter arising from or directly involving a ruling, request for declaratory judgment, or controversy of the Annual Conference from which they are elected or to which they belong.
b) A member shall not participate in or take part in deliberations on a matter in which an interested party has special access to or history of access to the member, including, but not limited to, membership in the same small group, a pastoral relationship (including that of a bishop to a clergy member of the council), or an employee-employer relationship.
c) No member who receives compensation for services rendered or commissions of any kind from an individual or agency who is a party in a matter shall participate in the matter.
d) No member shall participate in a matter directly or indirectly affecting his or her business, income, or employment.  The term business shall include the business, mission, or operations of a non-profit organization, including church-related entities.
e) For purposes of this policy, the interests of immediate family shall be deemed the interest of the member.  Immediate family is defined as a member's spouse, parents, children, siblings, and the parents, children, and siblings of the spouse.
f) All present and potential conflicts of interests must be disclosed.  Annual disclosure questionnaires shall be completed by all members, staff, and volunteers, and copies shall be provided to all members.  Disclosure is required:
i. if known in advance, on the annual questionnaire.
ii. if known before any meeting, at any meeting at which the issue may be discussed or on which the issue may have a bearing, whether directly or indirectly; or  
iii. if not known in advance, when the actual, possible or potential conflict becomes apparent.  
g) Disclosure must be made to the person in charge of the meeting or activity and to the full meeting, or to the person's supervisor, as appropriate.  The member should recuse him/herself from the room to avoid all discussion, voting and deliberation on the issue.  

Rationale

Judicial Council members need to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.  Current legislation does not address this and does not provide guidance concerning a recusal policy.