Pastor Tim

When to call attention to a rules violation

3 posts in this topic

I am often asked to serve as parliamentarian at church meetings.  Occasionally, I see the meeting leader make a mistake or commit a violation of Robert's Rules.  These are almost always minor--like finishing the business early before an Order of the Day, and then proceeding to that Order early a few minutes early.  

My question is this, "What is my role as parliamentarian when I see something like this happen?"  Call it to the leader's attention?  Or should I just keep silent until called upon for advice?

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I think RONR sums it up best, since everyone takes a slightly different approach to these things:  " It is also the duty of the parliamentarian—as inconspicuously as possible—to call the attention of the chair to any error in the proceedings that may affect the substantive rights of any member or may otherwise do harm. "  RONR (11th ed.), p. 466.

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8 minutes ago, Pastor Tim said:

I am often asked to serve as parliamentarian at church meetings.  Occasionally, I see the meeting leader make a mistake or commit a violation of Robert's Rules.  These are almost always minor--like finishing the business early before an Order of the Day, and then proceeding to that Order early a few minutes early.  

My question is this, "What is my role as parliamentarian when I see something like this happen?"  Call it to the leader's attention?  Or should I just keep silent until called upon for advice?

When I serve as parliamentarian, I tend to break things into three categories:

  • If a violation is damaging to the assembly, or infringes on the rights of members, then it is my duty to call the chair's attention to it immediately (discreetly, if possible).
  • Some other violations don't really hurt anyone, but following the correct rule would save the assembly time, or assist in some other minor way. Attempting to explain this to the chair on the spot, however, may take up more time than the correction would save. In these cases, I make a note of it and talk to the chair after the meeting or during a recess.
  • Finally, some things the assembly does are not technically correct, but they aren't really hurting anything, and changing to the technically correct rule would make very little difference, and so I don't say anything unless asked.

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