Judicial Council
View the rules and procedures that govern the work of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church. Image combination of icons rule by akash k  and S. Madsen from the Noun Project.

Rules of Practice and Procedure

Based on its constitutional authority, the Judicial Council sets the practices that govern its work. For example, the rules include such details such as the duties of the Council's officers, when and how meetings will occur, and how docket items and briefs should be submitted.

 

These Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church are adopted pursuant to the authority granted by The Constitution of the United Methodist Church, Division Four — The Judiciary, ¶¶ 55-58 of The Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2016 [hereinafter The Discipline].

  1. The officers of the Judicial Council shall be a President, a Vice-President, and a Secretary to be elected quadrennially by a majority vote of the Council. Prior to the adjournment of the General Conference at which new members are elected, the continuing and newly elected members shall conduct an organizational meeting. The President of the Judicial Council shall preside during the election of officers. If the President of the Judicial Council is a continuing member, then a member of the Judicial Council whose term is due to expire and whose service as a member will conclude shall serve as the presiding officer for the purpose of said election.
  2. The President shall perform the duties incident to the office of a Chief Officer of a judicial body, including the right to call the Judicial Council into session, as provided by The Discipline.
  3. In case of absence or inability of the President, or at the request of the President, the Vice-President shall perform all duties incident to the office of President.
  4. The Secretary shall perform all duties incident to the position of Secretary of a judicial body, and such other duties as shall be requested by the Judicial Council, including but not limited to the following:
    1. Notify the President of the Judicial Council immediately upon the filing of any matter submitted for inclusion on the docket, with a full and complete statement of the matter involved, together with any additional data as deemed necessary.
    2. Assure that a correct and complete record of all proceedings, actions, and decisions of the Judicial Council are kept.
    3. Assure that an accurate and current docket of all matters that come before the Judicial Council for consideration, including any administrative matters that relate to the Judicial Council’s manner of operation, is prepared and maintained.
    4. Cause, at the earliest possible date upon the completion of the work, copies of the decisions of the Judicial Council to be provided to other members of the Council, to all parties to each docket item, and to such other persons or organizations as authorized by the President.
    5. Cause to be delivered signed copies of Judicial Council decisions that are requested by the General Conference to the Secretary of the General Conference, and after oral presentation to the General Conference, to The Daily Christian Advocate.
    6. Cause to be sent signed copies of all decisions of the Judicial Council to the President and Secretary of the Council of Bishops, and all other persons specified in ¶ 2612 of The Discipline.
    7. Cause to be notified the Committee on Correlations and Revision of The Discipline of any action of the Judicial Council which declares unconstitutional any paragraph of The Discipline.
    8. Cause to be sent to the General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church at the conclusion of any regularly scheduled or special session of the Judicial Council all materials relating to docket items finally disposed of together with signed copies of each decision and the minutes of the meeting. The General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church shall hold any and all such materials under seal and shall not make them available for examination for a period of twenty-five years from the time they are received.
    9. Cause to be published each quadrennium a bound volume of all decisions of the previous quadrennium.
  5. The Judicial Council shall employ a part-time Clerk, who shall assist the Secretary to perform the above stated duties and such other duties as may from time to time be assigned by the Secretary of the Council.
  6. The Executive Committee shall be composed of the officers. The Clerk shall take minutes.

  1. The Judicial Council is a constitutional body of the United Methodist Church and the selection of its members is authorized in Division Four, Article I of the Constitution (¶55).
  2. The General Conference, in determining the size of the Judicial Council and the method for electing its members and alternates, has established a plan whereby the Judicial Council will have precise numbers of lay and clergy members at all times. Members and alternates are selected either as “clergy” or “lay” members of the Council. Alternates are seated in the manner that ensures only clergy alternates will be seated for clergy members, and only lay alternates will be seated for lay members. In its judgment, the General Conference has determined that no more than five nor fewer than four clergy or lay persons will be seated when the Judicial Council meets.
  3. In the event that a clergy member of the Judicial Council, a lay member of the Judicial Council, or an alternate in either category, has a change of category (clergy to lay/lay to clergy) during his/her term, that individual’s seat on the Council or place on the list of alternates shall be considered vacant. The vacancy shall be filled in accordance with ¶ 2604 of The Discipline.

  1. There shall be a regularly scheduled meeting of the Judicial Council between the 15th of October and the 15th of November and the third or fourth week of April each year, except in the year of General Conference when the meeting just before and during General Conference shall take the place of the regularly scheduled April meeting. As a rule, meeting dates and places should be selected at least six (6) months prior to being held. This shall include the October meeting following General Conference.
  2. The President, in consultation with the Secretary, may determine that the matters before the Judicial Council are insufficient to warrant a meeting. In such a case, an announcement of the cancellation of a regularly scheduled meeting shall be published widely and on official United Methodist websites.
  3. In the event of an emergency appeal, the President may call for a special meeting of the Judicial Council, provided that as much notice as possible be given to ensure that all persons wishing to submit briefs or other documents will be given sufficient time to do so. All deadlines for the special meeting shall be set by the President and published by the Secretary of the Judicial Council.
  4. Subject to IV. C, members of the Judicial Council shall register for a scheduled meeting at least fifty (50) days before the start of the meeting through the offices of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA). The Secretary shall be authorized to arrange for an alternate to attend a meeting as a replacement for any member of the Judicial Council who has not registered forty (40) days before the meeting is scheduled to begin.

  1. Subject to IV.C, all matters proposed for inclusion on the Judicial Council Docket shall be received by the Secretary by July 15 or December 31 for inclusion on the fall or spring docket, respectively.
  2. Subject to IV.C, the Secretary shall assure that the docket is posted on the Judicial Council pages of the official United Methodist website at least ninety (90) days before the session at which the case will be considered. The posting shall include the complete wording of the request for a decision (¶ 2608.1 of The Discipline).
  3. It shall be the responsibility of the secretary of the conference, board, agency, or other body or person authorized by The Discipline to appeal to the Judicial Council to provide the Secretary of the Judicial Council with all materials relating to the matter being appealed, including a copy of the minutes where such matter arose in the normal proceedings of the body, transcripts, minutes, and decisions in church trials, and any other documents relevant to the case. Subject to IV.C, all such documents and materials must be received by the Secretary no later than sixty (60) days before the day of the session at which the case will be considered. Materials may be added to the record by a party after this date only by leave of the Judicial Council.
  4. When the docket for the regularly scheduled fall and spring meetings has been set, the Secretary or Clerk shall send copies to other members of the Judicial Council, The United Methodist News Service, to other appropriate publications, and to all parties, and to such other persons or organizations as may be deemed appropriate.
  5. Persons providing the Secretary of the Judicial Council with matters for consideration by the Council at its next regularly scheduled meeting shall provide the names and addresses and all contact information for all persons making motions, signing the requests for decisions, and any other persons deemed appropriate to be notified and invited to submit briefs or other materials.
  6. Any interested party or other person who wishes to comment on any matter coming before the Judicial Council may submit a brief. For Judicial Council purposes, “interested party” used in this document is an individual or a representative of an institution named in a proceeding over which the Judicial Council has jurisdiction.
  7. All briefs submitted to the Judicial Council shall be submitted to the Secretary no less than seventy (70) days before the session at which the matter will be considered, and conform to the Format for Briefs (Appendix C). Eight (8) copies of each brief shall be printed and submitted on 81/2 x 11 inch or A4 paper, and signed by the person submitting the brief. An electronic copy of the brief in both Word and PDF formats (with securities features disabled) must be filed with the Secretary of the Judicial Council at [email protected]. Each submitting party shall provide all other interested parties with an electronic copy of their brief.
  8. For interested parties the maximum length shall be thirty (30) pages for opening briefs and twenty (20) for reply briefs, not including attachments and exhibits. For persons who are not interested parties (amici curiae) the maximum length shall be twenty (20) pages for each opening and reply brief, including attachments and exhibits.
  9. All briefs must be accompanied by a form provided by the Secretary of the Judicial Council, which allows the authors fully to identify themselves and provide necessary contact addresses and numbers.
  10. Any persons identified as an interested party shall submit to the Secretary a list of the persons(s) to whom the brief has been sent, certifying thereby that all the persons identified as interested parties have been sent copies.
  11. Subject to IV.C, any reply to a brief must be received within ten (10) days after the deadline for filing briefs.
  12. All persons, whether in the submission of written documents or oral communications, shall at all times conduct themselves with dignity and propriety being aware that this is a church proceeding. They shall yield gracefully to the rulings of the Judicial Council and avoid detrimental remarks, both in session and out, and shall at all times promote respect for the Judicial Council.

  1. An oral hearing may be requested by any interested party or ordered by the President. All requests for oral hearing must be submitted on a form provided by the Secretary of the Judicial Council no later than the deadline for filing of briefs with copies of such request sent to all other interested parties. The Secretary will immediately forward the request for oral hearing to the President for a decision. The President may, but is not required to, consult with the remaining members of the Judicial Council before deciding whether to grant an oral hearing.
  2. An oral hearing may be specified as closed when the nature of the matter is confidential or sensitive. A closed hearing is open only to interested parties and the members and staff of the Judicial Council. When this is desired by any interested party (VI. A.), a clear rationale must be made for such request.
  3. An oral hearing normally will not be granted in cases involving the review of a bishop’s decision of law.
  4. The President’s decision regarding the request for oral hearing and/or closed hearing will be communicated to the parties in writing by the Secretary of the Judicial Council.
  5. The petitioner opens and has the authority to conclude the argument if five (5) minutes of the allotted time has been reserved.
  6. The President will determine the time allowed for oral hearing. If more than one person is speaking to the issue before the Judicial Council for the same position, all such persons, including amici curiae, shall share the allotted time. Only in rare circumstances and if warranted by the nature of the matter, the privilege to speak may be granted by the President to an amicus curiae upon request submitted on a form provided by the Secretary of the Judicial Council. The petitioner may reserve up to five (5) minutes of the allotted time for rebuttal, provided that such time for rebuttal is requested before the petitioner’s oral statement begins.
  7. The President will decide if an oral hearing will be livestreamed or otherwise shared widely in real time. This shall not be provided if a hearing has been closed. (VI. B.) Capacity in the oral hearing room shall be limited by the expense, useable space, and other factors.

  1. Decisions of the Judicial Council shall be in writing and shall include the reasons upon which the decision is based. Decisions shall include a digest, a statement of facts, a jurisdictional statement, an analysis and rationale, and a final ruling that disposes of all issues raised.
  2. The decisions will be released to all interested parties as soon as practicable on order of the President, and shall carry the disclaimer “Subject to final editing.” Decisions shall be signed by the President and the Secretary. Any member who desires to sign a majority opinion has the right to do so.
  3. Each decision and/or memorandum shall be made available to the United Methodist News Service, and printed widely within ninety (90) days following the decision or disposition as required by ¶ 2612 ofThe Discipline.
  4. As soon as practicable following its meetings, the decisions of the Judicial Council shall be posted by the Secretary or Clerk on the official United Methodist Internet site.
  5. Following necessary corrections and revisions, the decisions shall be sent to the Secretary of the General Conference, and all other persons specified in ¶ 2612 of The Discipline.
  6. Signed copies of the decisions shall be forwarded to the United Methodist Archives.
  7. Any member of the Judicial Council who wishes to write a dissenting or concurring opinion shall announce their intent to do so before adjournment of the session at which the majority decision is adopted. In such cases, the member shall prepare and submit the dissenting or concurring opinion to the Secretary prior to adjournment. The decision or memorandum and the dissenting or concurring opinions shall be published simultaneously.
  8. Whenever the Judicial Council concludes that it lacks jurisdiction to consider a docket item, the issue(s) raised may be decided by a memorandum that includes a statement of the relevant facts and a brief reference to the reasons why the Judicial Council lacks jurisdiction.

  1. Members of the Judicial Council shall not permit or participate in any discussion on any matters pending before the Judicial Council, or that may be referred to the Judicial Council for determination with any persons who are not Judicial Council members. (¶ 2607 of The Discipline)
  2. While strictly observing the intent of the preceding paragraph, a member of the Judicial Council to whom a docket item has been assigned by the President may request that the Secretary or Clerk secure from persons and/or agencies concerned directly or indirectly with the case pertinent facts, briefs, and supplementary statements. Copies of such additional materials shall be sent promptly by the Secretary or Clerk to all members of the Judicial Council.
  3. The President, Secretary, or Clerk of the Judicial Council may provide parties or other interested persons with information on procedural matters related to docketed items.
  4. No member of the Judicial Council shall interpret or comment on any decision made by the Judicial Council.

  1. Whenever a decision of the Judicial Council is shown to be in error, or in order to prevent a manifest injustice resulting from the interpretation of a Judicial Council decision, the Judicial Council on its own motion, or on a petition filed by an interested party may, by a majority vote, reconsider any ruling or action taken by it.
  2. A vote to reconsider may be taken outside the regular Judicial Council meetings by written or electronic ballot to the Secretary.
    1. The ballot shall be sent to each member by US Mail, email, or other mutually agreed upon electronic communication. Provided that if an alternate participated in voting in the matter about which reconsideration is requested, that alternate shall be included in voting and the member who was substituted shall not be included. Provided further that members voting for and against a specific decision which is under a request for reconsideration shall be included.
    2. The ballot shall include the request and any rationale the person(s) provided in the request.
    3. The ballot shall include a clearly worded yes or no question upon which members may vote.
    4. The ballot shall include a deadline for response that is at least 48 hours and no more than 168 hours (7 days). Provided, that in consultation with the President, a shorter deadline may be required if there is significant urgency.
    5. Members shall respond by the deadline provided by private communication to the Secretary using the same means of communication by which the ballot was communicated. Each member may vote “Yes,” “No,” or “Abstain.”
    6. A minimum of seven ballots shall be required before the Secretary closes the voting provided that a vote to abstain shall be considered in the count of ballots. A majority shall be five votes in either the positive or negative. If, with fewer than 36 hours remaining in the deadline, there are fewer than seven ballots recorded or if there is a failure to reach a majority with ballots still outstanding, the Secretary, in consultation with the President, shall correspond in the most effective way possible with those who have not voted.
    7. If the deadline is reached without the conditions in #6 above, the Secretary and President shall consult as to further steps. In no circumstance may the voting be closed with fewer than seven ballots cast.
  3. Any request for reconsideration must be filed with the Secretary or President of the Judicial Council within a period of forty-five (45) days following the date of the decision. A majority of the Judicial Council members must vote in favor of reconsideration for it to be placed on the docket.
  4. The person(s) requesting reconsideration shall be notified in writing by the Secretary of the Judicial Council as soon as the votes of the members are received. A denial of reconsideration shall be reported with the decisions made at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Judicial Council.
  5. Any reconsideration which is approved shall be placed on the docket for the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Judicial Council. An announcement of the reconsideration will be published as soon as possible.
  6. Any request for reconsideration should include one or more of the following:
    1. A list of all new, relevant facts;
    2. An indication of relevant law and/or decisions of the Judicial Council and/or disciplinary sections which were not previously considered and should have been; and/or
    3. A specific explanation of the error or manifest injustice found in the Judicial Council ruling.
  7. When the petition for reconsideration is made by the Judicial Council on its own motion, the Judicial Council, in its discretion, may notify the interested parties of the issues of fact, law, and/or error/mistakes which have caused the Judicial Council to reconsider its ruling. When so notified, parties shall have sixty (60) days after receiving notification in which to respond.
  8. A request for reconsideration of the denial of reconsideration will not be entertained by the Judicial Council.

  1. Each regular member and alternate member of the Judicial Council shall observe high standards of conduct to preserve the integrity and impartiality of the Judicial process.
  2. A Judicial Council member shall avoid even the appearance of any and all impropriety and conduct all judicial and extrajudicial activities so they do not cast doubt on the member’s ability to act fairly and impartially.
  3. A Judicial Council member who is acquainted with the parties to a pending matter or who has prior knowledge of the operative facts of a case or who is a constituent member of the body bringing or opposing the matter should carefully examine their knowledge of and preconceptions about the case. When a member is convinced that a conflict of interest exists in a particular case or when the member’s impartiality can reasonably be questioned, the member shall notify the President and Secretary in advance of the meeting dates to announce recusal from or inhibition concerning the matter and shall refrain from any form of participation or discussion in that particular case.

  1. Ultimate responsibility for financial management is located with the full Judicial Council. Fiscal responsibility and careful stewardship shall govern all decisions.
  2. The President shall have day-to-day responsibility for financial management provided that the President may delegate this responsibility to another member of the Executive Committee or to the Clerk.
  3. Monthly reports from GCFA will be provided to the President and the Clerk and to any member of the Executive Committee so designated by the President.
  4. Any member of the Judicial Council may receive a monthly or yearly report by making a request to the Clerk.
  5. Spending Plan Development
    1. The President (or the President’s designee) shall develop a Spending Plan for each calendar year.
    2. The draft Spending Plan must be approved by the President.
    3. The Spending Plan for the coming calendar year shall be presented to the full Judicial Council in the Fall meeting with adequate time in the agenda for discussion.
    4. The President (or the President’s designee) shall present to GCFA a spending plan for the coming calendar year by November 1 of the preceding year.
  6. Quadrennial Budget development
    1. The President (or the President’s designee) shall develop a quadrennial budget for the coming quadrennium.
    2. The President must approve the Quadrennial Budget request.
    3. The Quadrennial Budget shall be submitted to the full Judicial Council in the Spring meeting prior to General Conference.
    4. The President shall present the Quadrennial Budget as approved by the Judicial Council to GCFA at or before the deadline set by GCFA.
    5. The President (or the President’s designee) shall be available to any budget hearing held by GCFA.
  7. Expenses of more than $1000 over the Spending Plan must be approved by the President who shall report such approval at the next full meeting of the Judicial Council.
  8. Expenses of more than 5% of the Spending Plan must be approved by the Executive Committee and reported by the President immediately to the full Judicial Council by email and reported verbally at the next full meeting of the Judicial Council.
  9. The President shall schedule in the agenda of the Fall and Spring meetings of the Judicial Council a financial report which shall include Reserve Fund balance and spending patterns and totals. Adequate time for discussion by the full Judicial Council shall be provided.

These rules may be amended, repealed, or suspended at any session of the Judicial Council by a majority vote of the members.

Adopted: April 21, 2010

Revised: April 20, 2013

Revised: October 25, 2013

Revised: April 26, 2014

Revised: October 28, 2016

Revised: October 26, 2017

Revised: May 23, 2018

Revised: February 20, 2019

Revised: April 26, 2019

APPENDICES

The Appendices are not part of the Rules. They are added for information. The Guidelines for Bishops’ Decisions of Law are actually taken directly from Decision 799 and should not have changes made in them. A copy of those guidelines, the Guidelines for the Submission of Briefs, and Format for Briefs are included below.

The Judicial Council has received a significant number of rulings by bishops who are asked to decide “questions of law” under ¶ 2609 of The Discipline. The following guidelines are a direct quote from Decision 799.

The duty of the bishop is to respond with a ruling to all submitted questions of law. A ruling is required even if the ruling is simply that the question is moot, hypothetical or improperly submitted. There are categories of so-called “questions of law” which should be identified by the bishop in rulings for review by the Judicial Council, but not given substantive responses. Among these are the following:

  1. Moot and hypothetical questions
  2. Decision 33 is the landmark decision defining the issue on moot and hypothetical questions. This principal has been followed in numerous decisions including more recent Decisions 396, 651, 746, 747, 762 and 763.

    “Moot and hypothetical questions shall not be decided.”

    Regarding moot and hypothetical questions, the key principle is “Moot and hypothetical questions shall not be decided.”

  3. Judicial and Administrative procedures
  4. The bishop has no authority to make substantive rulings on judicial or administrative matters. Such matters are limited to the purview of the judicial or administrative bodies such as Committee on Investigation, Trial Court, Committee on Appeals, or Judicial Council. The Constitution and The Discipline have placed the authority to resolve such questions in these bodies. To do otherwise would violate the principle of separation and balance of powers among the church bodies as set forth in the Constitution.

    Questions which are procedural or substantive matters relating solely to actions in a judicial or administrative process are not proper questions to be addressed in a substantive ruling by a bishop. These questions are properly addressed by an appeal to the presiding officer of a Trial Court. In regard to errors during a trial, errors of procedure or law are properly addressed in the appellate process to the Committee on Appeals of the Jurisdiction. Such questions are not proper questions for the bishop in that these are not matters concerning the regular business of the Annual Conference. By the Constitution and The Discipline, such questions belong to the judicial bodies of the Church.

    The question dealing with the Judicial Council's authority to provide its own method of organization and procedure is properly considered only by the General Conference which also must be considered in light of such inherent authority of the Judicial Council under the Constitution. The proper ruling of the bishop is to rule that the bishop has no authority to rule on such matters.

  5. Guidelines
  6. The Judicial Council has jurisdiction to review decisions of law made by bishops in central, district, annual or jurisdictional conference. Such decisions are made upon submission of questions of law submitted to them in writing in the regular business of a session.

    1. Questions of law may only be submitted to the presiding bishop by a member of the central, district, annual or jurisdictional conference.
    2. Questions of law shall be germane to the regular business, consideration, or discussion of the conference session and shall state the connection to a specific action taken, or the question must be raised during the deliberation of a specific issue of a matter upon which the conference takes action.
    3. When the bishop determines that the question presented is not a properly presented “question of law,” the bishop shall state the rationale in the ruling without further substantive commentary. In brief, all rulings shall be forwarded to the Judicial Council for review (¶ 2609). While there are no restrictions on presentation of a “questions of law” to a bishop, there are numerous decisions which clearly state that the hypothetical, moot and improper questions are not in fact questions of law requiring a substantive answer. In such cases wherein the bishop has determined that the “question of law” is either a hypothetical, moot or improper question, the bishop must, however, so rule and follow the procedure for review by the Judicial Council. The council has repeatedly noted that questions of law must relate to the business of the conference session.
    4. Questions of law shall be entered in the conference journal record as an exact statement of the questions, and the ruling of the bishop by the secretary of the conference and properly submitted to the Judicial Council (¶ 2609).

The Judicial Council invites any person to file a brief in any case on its docket. It is not necessary to be an interested party nor is an invitation required for any person or group to file a brief. Anyone is free to communicate with the Judicial Council, through its secretary, by brief or otherwise.

Any interested party who chooses to file a brief must abide by Rule V of the Rules of Practice and Procedure, which requires that a copy of the brief be supplied to each of the other interested parties, and that the mailing or delivery of such copies must be certified to the Secretary of the Judicial Council.

Most cases come before the Judicial Council through a petition for declaratory decision (¶ 2610 of The Discipline). Because the issue frequently involves constitutionality, meaning, application, or effect of The Discipline or a portion thereof or an act or legislation of a General Conference, a brief is especially important to assist in clarifying the issue and focus of the decision.

The Judicial Council also reviews episcopal rulings, appeals of episcopal rulings and the legality of actions taken by the General Conference and jurisdictional, central and annual conferences (¶ 2609). The Judicial Council also handles appeals from church trials (¶ 2715). During sessions of the General Conference, referrals are also made to the Judicial Council under ¶ 2609.

CONTENT of a brief should be determined by the origin of the matter, previous decisions concerning the same or similar issues, the point of view represented, and the judgment of the writer as to relevant and persuasive arguments.

DEADLINE for filing a brief is seventy (70) days prior to the session at which the case is to be considered. Any person submitting a brief must follow the Format for Briefs (Appendix C) and provide the Secretary of the Judicial Council with a list of those to whom copies of the brief have been sent as a means of certification of delivery. Interested parties must send eight (8) printed copies and an electronic copy in both Word and PDF format (with security features disabled) of each brief to the Secretary of the Judicial Council, and an electronic copy to each interested party.

On the following pages are suggestions for the preparation of briefs under various circumstances:

  1. Declaratory Decisions
  2. A petition for a declaratory decision often arises from doubts as to the constitutionality or legality of an action taken by the General Conference, a Jurisdictional, Central or Annual Conference, or some board or agency. It may also arise from the need for an interpretation of some portion of The Discipline, so that some group may know how to proceed in keeping with church law.

    Such petitions must meet two conditions: (1) it must be a matter which affects the body filing the petition and (2) it must involve the constitutionality, meaning, application, or effect of The Discipline or some portion thereof, or some act of the General Conference.

    When a member of some group offers a motion that the group initiated a petition for a declaratory decision, it is assumed that the member feels there has been some violation of the Constitution or The Discipline or there is a need for interpretation of some part of the Constitution or The Discipline as it relates to that group.

    If the question raised is one of constitutionality or legality, the maker of the motion should prepare and submit a brief which says, in effect, “We believe the meaning of is such that, when applied to this matter, it has the effect of making the action unconstitutional or illegal.” The argument should be supported by the following:

    1. State the basis for the jurisdiction of the Judicial Council. Note that The Book of Discipline gives the Judicial Council jurisdiction only under certain narrowly defined circumstances. Cite the paragraph numbers and circumstances thought to establish jurisdiction in the matter.
    2. State the relationship between the action, The Discipline, and the group petitioning for the decision.
    3. Identify the specific paragraph of the Constitution or The Discipline thought to have been violated.
    4. Identify and discuss previous decisions of the Judicial Council bearing on the issue.
    5. State any other supporting arguments or information.
    6. Identify the relief requested.

    If the petition is a request for information, a brief need not argue a point of view. It need only establish jurisdiction and the need of the petitioning body for an interpretation.

    A person preparing a brief in opposition to the petition may argue that the Judicial Council does not have jurisdiction or that the position of the petitioner is in error.

  3. Bishop's Decision of Law
    1. Appeal of Bishop's Decision of Law
    2. The maker of a motion to appeal a bishop's decision on a question of law should prepare and file a brief setting forth the reasons why the decision is thought to be in error, citing the applicable paragraph of The Discipline, the decisions of the Judicial Council and other references where appropriate. Supporters of the appeal may participate in a joint brief or may file separate briefs if they prefer. The bishop may prepare a brief in support of the decision, providing rationale and references in more detail. Others who support the decision and oppose the appeal may file a brief as well.

    3. Review of Bishop's Decision of Law
    4. As in (A) above, the bishop may prepare a brief in support of the decision. Those in agreement and those in opposition may also file briefs. A brief should set forth the circumstances surrounding the decision, cite the relevant sections of The Discipline and decisions of the Judicial Council, and give supporting arguments.

  4. Appeals from Church Trials
  5. It is expected that briefs will be filed by counsel for the church and counsel for the person charged, accompanied by transcripts of the trial and any previous appeals. Others may file briefs if they wish. Briefs should state clearly the facts relevant to the appeal and the church law on which the appeal is based.

  6. Other Matters
  7. The above guidelines are generally applicable to all cases coming through any other channel. A brief should deal with jurisdiction, present the facts, clarify the issues, identify applicable church law and previous judicial decisions, and point to a conclusion.

  8. Delivery of Briefs
  9. All briefs must conform to the Format for Briefs (Appendix C) and be delivered to the Secretary of the Judicial Council not less than seventy (70) days prior to the Judicial Council session at which the matter will be heard. Interested parties should send eight (8) copies of each brief to the Secretary of the Judicial Council, signed by the party submitting the brief. An electronic copy of the brief in both Word and PDF format (with security features disabled) is to be filed with the Secretary of the Judicial Council at [email protected] if possible. Each brief must include the signature of the person responsible for submitting the brief.

  1. On 8 ½ X 11 inch or A4, white paper. No-acid and high-rag content is preferred for archive purposes.
  2. Printed on one side or two.
  3. Double space in 12-point, serif font.
  4. One-inch margins, left justified.
  5. Each page numbered at the bottom right.
  6. The pages may be bound with staple, paperclip, or alligator clip. They should not be bound in theme folders, three-hole binders, GBC, or spiral formats.
  7. Name of the author on the first and last page.
  8. Docket number (if known) at the bottom left of the page.
  9. Maximum thirty (30) pages for briefs and twenty (20) pages for responses. Persons who are not interested parties (amici curiae) are limited to twenty (20) pages including attachments and exhibits.
  10. Eight (8) hard copies submitted via USPS or other delivery service to the Secretary of the Judicial Council.
  11. Electronic copies in both Word and PDF (with security features disabled) submitted to the Secretary of the Judicial Council.