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Voiding action from prior meeting due to lack of quorum


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Page 349 of RONR permits an assembly, upon clear and convincing evidence, to retroactively declare action taken at a prior meeting null and void due to the absence of a quorum.  

Situation:  At the first meeting on the first day of a two day convention, the chair finds that a quorum is present when the meeting is called to order.  Later in the meeting a motion was adopted.  No point of order was raised about the possible absence of a quorum.  The meeting later adjourned without anyone having questioned the validity of the motion which had been adopted or the presence of a quorum at any point during the meeting.

At the second meeting, which was on day two of the two day convention,  a point of order was made immediately after calling the meeting to order that a quorum was not present.  The chair ruled the point of order well taken and ruled that a quorum was not present.  Someone then made a point of order that there was no quorum present at the previous day's meeting and that the motion adopted at that previous meeting was null and void.  The chair agreed and ruled the motion from the previous day's meeting null and void.   No point of order was raised and no one appealed from that ruling.  The convention then adjourned sine die. 

Questions:

1.  At the the second meeting, which was without a quorum, did the chair have the authority to  declare that the motion from the previous day's meeting was null and void as having been adopted when no quorum was present?    

2.  What is the status/validity of that ruling by the chair? 

3.  Does the adopted motion from the first meeting still stand as validly adopted or has it been validly ruled null and void?

4.  In essence, my question is whether a ruling that prior action is null and void must be made at a properly called meeting at which a quorum is present in order for the chair to retroactively declare, on a point of order, that action taken at a prior meeting is null and void due to the absence of a quorum at the time it was adopted.

 

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It seems to me that there either was a quorum present when the motion was adopted, or there was not. But we lack omniscience, so we can't actually decide on that basis, but rather on the basis of what people believe. RONR tells us that, in such a case, the burden rests on those who would overturn the action for want of quorum. Thus, until such a decision is made, the action is presumed valid. Declaring a previous action invalid for lack of quorum is not among the actions which may be taken in the absence of a quorum, so, in my opinion, the answer to your question:

4 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

whether a ruling that prior action is null and void must be made at a properly called meeting at which a quorum is present in order for the chair to retroactively declare, on a point of order, that action taken at a prior meeting is null and void due to the absence of a quorum at the time it was adopted.

is yes.

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At the second meeting, which was on day two of the two day convention, 

a point of order was made immediately -- after calling the meeting to order -- that a quorum was not present.

***

Without a quorum, no binding decisions can be made.

So, the chair cannot create a binding precedent, nor undo a binding precedent, in a quorumless meeting.

So, the day-one decision stands, for now. -- Until your 3rd meeting, when a quorum is present, and the point(s) of order can be turned into a permanent binding decision.

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On 10/26/2018 at 3:24 PM, Richard Brown said:

Page 349 of RONR permits an assembly, upon clear and convincing evidence, to retroactively declare action taken at a prior meeting null and void due to the absence of a quorum.  

Situation:  At the first meeting on the first day of a two day convention, the chair finds that a quorum is present when the meeting is called to order.  Later in the meeting a motion was adopted.  No point of order was raised about the possible absence of a quorum.  The meeting later adjourned without anyone having questioned the validity of the motion which had been adopted or the presence of a quorum at any point during the meeting.

At the second meeting, which was on day two of the two day convention,  a point of order was made immediately after calling the meeting to order that a quorum was not present.  The chair ruled the point of order well taken and ruled that a quorum was not present.  Someone then made a point of order that there was no quorum present at the previous day's meeting and that the motion adopted at that previous meeting was null and void.  The chair agreed and ruled the motion from the previous day's meeting null and void.   No point of order was raised and no one appealed from that ruling.  The convention then adjourned sine die. 

Questions:

1.  At the the second meeting, which was without a quorum, did the chair have the authority to  declare that the motion from the previous day's meeting was null and void as having been adopted when no quorum was present?    

2.  What is the status/validity of that ruling by the chair? 

3.  Does the adopted motion from the first meeting still stand as validly adopted or has it been validly ruled null and void?

4.  In essence, my question is whether a ruling that prior action is null and void must be made at a properly called meeting at which a quorum is present in order for the chair to retroactively declare, on a point of order, that action taken at a prior meeting is null and void due to the absence of a quorum at the time it was adopted.

 

The chair erred in entertaining the point of order, which was not in order, since a quorum was not present at that (2nd) meeting.  The chair also erred in ruling on the point of order.  The ruling is null and void. 

The point of order can be raised at a future regular or properly called meeting at which a quorum is present, but the chair should not rule the point well taken unless "clear and convincing evidence" is presented to support the assertion that a quorum was not present.  From the scenario presented it's not clear that such evidence is likely to be available.

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My response is a bit delayed, due to my being away and without ready access  to my computer for a couple of days. But for what it's worth, I concur with the previous responses. The motion from the first meeting stands unless and until "clear and convincing evidence" of the absence of a quorum is presented at a regular or properly called future meeting at which a quorum is present.

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On 10/26/2018 at 3:24 PM, Richard Brown said:

4.  In essence, my question is whether a ruling that prior action is null and void must be made at a properly called meeting at which a quorum is present in order for the chair to retroactively declare, on a point of order, that action taken at a prior meeting is null and void due to the absence of a quorum at the time it was adopted.

You might want to review this thread, which is not that far down the list of topics in the Advanced Discussion forum.

In this particular context, I think it might be helpful to know what the basis was for determining that no quorum was present, and whether anything had changed in this regard between the first and second days of the convention. Was it simply a question of how many of the registered delegates came to each day's meeting, or was it that not enough people from the constituent units registered for the convention at all?

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