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Notification of hearing by certified mail


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If a notification of a hearing was sent by certified mail, but was not deliverable due to the member not informing the organization of his current address, what is the recourse of the Secretary and/or the Board of Directors as it pertains to his receipt of same?

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First check the bylaws.

If they require, only, that the notice be sent by such and such a date and method, the directors are off the hook. The bylaws, or some other adopted rule (and "adoption" is key), may put the onus on the members of keeping records up-to-date, so even a "received by" requirement won't be a problem.

Otherwise there may indeed be a problem. Amend the bylaws (advice that may be too little too late).

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Was the 'hearing' part of a disciplinary action against the member? If that were the case, and if the organization is following the rules in Ch. XX of RONR (since many organizations don't include explicit language on discipline in their own bylaws), it seems that proof of delivery would be required (RONR 11th ed. p. 663 ll. 29-32).

Of course, the word 'hearing' could mean something else. Perhaps the original poster will clarify.

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Was the 'hearing' part of a disciplinary action against the member? If that were the case, and if the organization is following the rules in Ch. XX of RONR (since many organizations don't include explicit language on discipline in their own bylaws), it seems that proof of delivery would be required (RONR 11th ed. p. 663 ll. 29-32).

Of course, the word 'hearing' could mean something else. Perhaps the original poster will clarify.

The hearing was to answer charges. "Any member, for violation of any of the Bylaws or Rules of the Club, or other sufficient cause, may be suspended or expelled by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors, provided that, before any member may be expelled, he/she shall be the right to a full hearing upon the charges. The Secretary shall serve a copy of the charges, either personally or by certified mail, upon such member at least ten (10) days before the day set for the hearing. Such notice shall state the time and place of such hearing. Such meeting shall take place in the Clubhouse, or other location determined by the Board, at a reasonable time before a quorum of the Board of Directors."

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... The Secretary shall serve a copy of the charges, either personally or by certified mail, upon such member at least ten (10) days before the day set for the hearing. ...

Do I take it correctly that it is not possible for the Secretary to personally serve the member with the charges? I am aware that since they don't have a current address that the Secretary can't just show up on the doorstep but would the Secretary have any other opportunity to see the member?

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I think the secretary better start looking for the member :)

This isn't really in the domain of RONR, but 'serving papers' has a relatively well defined meaning, I think. At any rate, I'd be confident that if your certified letter is not signed for, then you haven't yet served a copy of the charges to your member.

So, at this juncture, even though we attempted to serve him, and were unaware that he no longer lived at the "recorded" address, we need to find him, and physically hand him the paperwork?

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So, at this juncture, even though we attempted to serve him, and were unaware that he no longer lived at the "recorded" address, we need to find him, and physically hand him the paperwork?

It's not clear to anyone here what you need to do but I'd agree with those who would say that even though you may have "attempted" to serve him (and that's not clear either), you have not, in fact, served him.

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So, at this juncture, even though we attempted to serve him, and were unaware that he no longer lived at the "recorded" address, we need to find him, and physically hand him the paperwork?

Does your organization believe the relevant portion of your bylaws is ambiguous on what needs to be done? If so, RONR does provide some helpful principles of bylaws interpretation (RONR 11th ed. pp. 588-591). If the bylaws are not ambiguous, follow them.

It doesn't sound all that ambiguous to me... but I'm not a member of your organization. (Not trying to be sarcastic -- to the extent that your question goes beyond the rules in RONR, posters on this forum can't give you definitive answers).

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So, at this juncture, even though we attempted to serve him, and were unaware that he no longer lived at the "recorded" address, we need to find him, and physically hand him the paperwork?

You need to follow the requirements in your bylaws, and it's up to the organization to determine the meaning of those bylaws. The Principles of Interpretation provided by Trina should help. Good luck.

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This is not a response, but added information. The postal service forwards first class mail for one year after the person had moved. For the next six months thereafter, the letter is returned with the new address. Thus, the individual must have moved from that address more than 18 months ago. In our smaller organizations, we have a sign in board with a space to write in their current address and phone numbers. Our by-laws do not have rules requiring members to update their current mailing addresses and phone numbers.

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That assumes the member notified the post office of his new address. All we know is that the notice was "undeliverable".

My response was not a definitive reply of moving and I based it on the ops statement of the member not informing the organization of his current address. I was also assuming the individual was not attending meetings. If the mailed was returned, the postal service would have indicated that the individual moved and left no forwarding address or that the forwarding order expired. The individual may not have moved and simply did not pick up the letter. Certified letters are returned after 15 days and also marked undeliverable. Sorry for the assumptions.

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I have been asked if "past practice" would have any bearing on this issue. Apparently, before my time, the Board of Directors have acted on a disciplinary matter when a member refused to attend a meeting. Late in the day, I know, but our BOD meeting is tonight. Thank you, in advance.

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I have been asked if "past practice" would have any bearing on this issue. Apparently, before my time, the Board of Directors have acted on a disciplinary matter when a member refused to attend a meeting. Late in the day, I know, but our BOD meeting is tonight. Thank you, in advance.

Refusing to attend is not the same thing as not being notified, is it?

As to your question, custom (or "past practice") is indeed valued under RONR; however, any such practice in violation of the bylaws 'falls to the ground' when challenged. That's a rough paraphrase, as my copy of the book is not within reach -- hopefully someone will be along shortly with a citation.

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Following up:

'if a customary practice is or becomes in conflict wiht the parliamentary authority or any written rule, and a Point of Order citing the conflict is raised at any time, the custom falls to the ground, and the conflicting provision in the parliamentary authority or written rule must thereafter be complied with.' (RONR 11th ed. p. 19 ll.10-15)

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I have been asked if "past practice" would have any bearing on this issue. Apparently, before my time, the Board of Directors have acted on a disciplinary matter when a member refused to attend a meeting. Late in the day, I know, but our BOD meeting is tonight. Thank you, in advance.

RONR places no requirement of attendance on members. Such a requirement would need to be in the bylaws. (RONR 11th Ed., p. 572 ll. 8-11)

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Following up:

'if a customary practice is or becomes in conflict wiht the parliamentary authority or any written rule, and a Point of Order citing the conflict is raised at any time, the custom falls to the ground, and the conflicting provision in the parliamentary authority or written rule must thereafter be complied with.' (RONR 11th ed. p. 19 ll.10-15)

Found your book? :)

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