D042 Amend Canons IV.2 and IV.13 (new insertion) [Terminology (Church Attorney); Declining to Advance]

Resolution 2018-A125 was referred at the 79th General Convention (General Convention, Journal of the General Convention of...The Episcopal Church, Austin, 2018 (New York: General Convention, 2018), pp. 291-292.  However, it remains necessary to provide a formal process for terminating a proceeding once it has been referred to the Hearing Panel by seeking leave to decline to advance the proceeding in Title IV. Resolution 2018-A125 addressed a different situation concerning the renunciation of Holy Orders.  The two amendments here borrow some of the language of 2018-A125 and address the dismissal of a Title IV matter and the exclusion of proper reporting of the dismissal at this public stage of the proceedings.

 By omitting the requirement of the Church Attorney to obtain “leave from the Hearing Panel to decline to advance the proceedings or to refer any matter back to the Intake Officer or the Bishop Diocesan for pastoral response in lieu of disciplinary action” once the matter has been referred to the Hearing Panel, there is no required reporting of any dismissal of the matter to the Archives of The Episcopal Church and other entities within the Church, or for the placement of the decision on the record of proceedings as would be the case if the Hearing Panel provided an Order of Dismissal. What remains is an incomplete record of the Title IV matter without closure of the matter communicated to all concerned, including any record keeping or notice of dismissal of the initial charges that were made public earlier.

 These comments are based in an actual case. A Title IV matter had been referred by the Conference Panel to the Hearing Panel. During discovery, both the Respondent and the Complainant were administered polygraph exams, the Respondent at the direction of his attorney and the Complainant subsequently at the direction of the Church Attorney. The Respondent passed his polygraph exam and the Complainant failed his. The Church Attorney then referred the matter back to the Intake Officer who submitted a “First Supplemental Intake Report,” citing Canon IV.6.5 as their grounds for dismissing with prejudice the matter, with the Bishop Diocesan’s endorsement of the dismissal. No Order of Dismissal was produced since the Church Attorney was not required by the canons to obtain “leave from the Hearing Panel to decline to advance the proceedings” with a subsequent Order of Dismissal by the Hearing Panel.  The matter that had already been referred to the Hearing Panel was essentially removed from any future decisions and subsequent process by the Hearing Panel according to Canon IV.13. Closure of the matter was incomplete.