Memorandum Number 1117


April 23, 2009

Review of Decision of Bishop Warner Brown of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Not to Recognize as a Request for a Decision of Law a Written Request That Was Not Introduced During the Business of the Annual Conference.

During the 2008 session of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference, the presiding bishop entered a parliamentary note into the record of the annual conference session. The verbatim record of the bishop's parliamentary ruling as announced in the annual conference session is as follows:

Let me make a parliamentary note at this time before we move to the other announcements. Earlier in this session there appeared on the desk a packet of information labeled "point of law." I have not said anything about it, because I was waiting for someone to formally request that I consider this. It was not properly presented unless that happens, according to our Book of Discipline. But that has not happened as we come to the end of business. I would note having reviewed this document, that I am ruling it out of order. It does not properly meet the requirements of ¶ 2609.6 that calls for questions of law. And it is unrelated to any business that we have been conducting during this session of the annual conference, and for that second reason it is also out of order. So, it is out of order and we will note that and proceed. Thank you.

The bishop reported his parliamentary ruling to the Judicial Council, and review of the ruling was docketed in the normal course. Our longstanding jurisprudence is that the Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to review a parliamentary ruling of a bishop in an annual conference.

Parliamentary rulings by a presiding bishop may be challenged only by an appeal to the body during the annual conference session. There is no disciplinary authority for the Judicial Council to assume jurisdiction of a parliamentary ruling by a presiding bishop.

Decision 999 held that the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction to review parliamentary rulings of episcopal leaders made during annual conference sessions. See Decisions 898, 941, 943, and 953. In order for a request to be a parliamentary ruling, the chair must rule on the request in the parliamentary session affording the opportunity for an appeal of the chair's ruling to the body.

Notwithstanding the foregoing principle, we have conducted our own review of the packet of information that was labeled "Point of Law", and submitted to the bishop during the annual conference session and of the "Supplement Point of Law" submitted after the annual conference session concluded. We are unable to determine the actual question or issue for which a ruling was sought. We are likewise unable to determine that the issue of concern was germane to the business, consideration, and discussion of the annual conference or that the issue related to some action taken or to be taken by the annual conference. The "Point of Law" fails to present a proper question of church law and, therefore, fails to comply with ¶ 2609. Decision 799 remains a useful guide and an authoritative precedent for persons who seek a bishop's decision of law.


The Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to review parliamentary rulings.

Ruben T. Reyes was absent. Jay Arthur Garrison, first lay alternate, participated in this decision.


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