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Special Meeting vs Executive Session


Jamies
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I might be a bit confused so looking for clarification. Board Minutes of an organization was published to its membership today. This is a national club so the BOD meets monthly via conference call and members do not attend the meetings. There was a special meeting held where the BOD received notification that a member of the current board wanted to prefer charges against another current board member. The fee required was paid and the board member was notified of the charges against them.

It was also stated that a motion was made to move ahead with charges against two other members. I don't see where a specific member paid the fee to prefer charges so not sure this set of charges is legitimate. I'm assuming the board itself is preferring charges against these two additional members but there were not many details.

The fact that these three members having charges preferred against them are members who were recently elected by the membership to serve on the next BOD (during a contentious election), is interesting to me. It seems that there might be some sour grapes here but, I digress.

Each member who has had charges preferred against them has been notified and a hearing date has been set.

Should this "special meeting" actually have been held in Executive Session, and if yes, how does not being held in Executive Session affect this process going forward?



 

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RONR 11e p. 655, ll. 3-11:

Quote

A society has the right to investigate the character of its members and officers as may be necessary to the enforcement of its own standards. But neither the society nor any member has the right to make public any information obtained through such investigation; if it becomes common knowledge within the society, it should not be revealed to any persons outside the society. Consequently, a trial must always be held in executive session, as must the introduction and consideration of all resolutions leading up to the trial.

Yes, it should have been held in executive session. At a bare minimum I'd recommend holding all further proceedings in executive session. (Sorry I'm not more help. I'm still newish.)

PS: your organization charges fees to prefer charges against other members? Is this in addition to, or in lieu of, the formation of an investigation committee?

Edited by Benjamin Geiger
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9 hours ago, Benjamin Geiger said:

RONR 11e p. 655, ll. 3-11:

Yes, it should have been held in executive session. At a bare minimum I'd recommend holding all further proceedings in executive session. (Sorry I'm not more help. I'm still newish.)

PS: your organization charges fees to prefer charges against other members? Is this in addition to, or in lieu of, the formation of an investigation committee?

I don't have an answer as to if it is in lieu of but I believe the Board conducted its own investigation. There was no formation of an investigation committee. Is this not a conflict of interest and prejudicial to the club and its members?

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1 minute ago, Jamies said:

I don't have an answer as to if it is in lieu of but I believe the Board conducted its own investigation. There was no formation of an investigation committee. Is this not a conflict of interest and prejudicial to the club and its members?

RONR doesn't deal with "judgments" such as this.  It is up to your association to decide if so and what, if anything, to do about it.

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If what was done so far was incorrect, it does not appear to me that any remedy is possible, except discipline or censure for those who did it.

But nothing of what we've seen so far suggests to me that there has been a trial. You apparently have customized rules for the conduct of discipline, since RONR says nothing about fees and the like. According to RONR, a trial should be held by the full assembly, not the board, in executive session. But what do your customized rules say happen at this point?

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12 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

If what was done so far was incorrect, it does not appear to me that any remedy is possible, except discipline or censure for those who did it.

But nothing of what we've seen so far suggests to me that there has been a trial. You apparently have customized rules for the conduct of discipline, since RONR says nothing about fees and the like. According to RONR, a trial should be held by the full assembly, not the board, in executive session. But what do your customized rules say happen at this point?

No, a trial/hearing has not occurred yet. A hearing has been set for later this month. What has transpired thus far is a "Special Meeting" of the BOD where they discussed the issue at hand and voted to entertain jurisdiction of charges against two members, who happen to be new elected members of the Board as of 2019. 
The Bylaws state that Any member may prefer charges against a member for alleged misconduct prejudicial to the best interest of the Club. A deposit of $50 must be enclosed in the package sent to the Secretary, which shall be forfeited if charges are not sustained by the Board. The Board must first consider whether the actions alleged in the charges, if proven, might constitute conduct prejudicial to the Club.
No single member preferred charges against these members. It was the Board itself that determined charges should be preferred and they decided to entertain jurisdiction. There is no mention in the bylaws regarding appointing a committee to investigate. Additionally, the only mention of member involvement is if the act of discipline is expulsion. I believe the Board has full authority, according to the bylaws, to conduct the hearing/trial: If the Board entertains jurisdiction of the charges it shall fix a date of a hearing by the Board not less than 3 weeks nor more than 6 weeks thereafter.

My primary concern is that what has transpired thus far has been done out of Executive Session and published to the membership. 
 

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Your organization will have to decide, given your customized rules, to what extent, if any, the unaddressed (and uncontradicted) rules in RONR apply. It sounds to me like the "hearing by the Board" should be held in executive session, but I don't see any need to hold the decision to prefer charges in executive session. Thinking practically, while RONR counsels that we don't want the details of the trial to get out (but that, to be fair, is in the context where the whole organization has the right to participate), but certainly the results will be obvious, and hence it will be obvious that charges were preferred (well, maybe not entirely obvious, but closer). That's my view, anyway. Arguably, there's no need to hold the hearing in executive session either, since your rules have modified the RONR procedure (hence, are not silent) and yet do not require, so far as we know anyway, that the hearing be in executive session. There is also a practical reason to think it needn't be: members, arguably, have a right to know about such an important decision, and its basis. When the procedures in RONR are used, they have that right. When the board, instead, makes the decision, and does it in executive session, the members don't know what happened. But certainly it is not wrong to hold it in executive session.

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1 hour ago, George Mervosh said:

If your hearing is, in effect, a trial, the rule in RONR requiring it to be held in executive session is not suspendable.

 

1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

If what was done so far was incorrect, it does not appear to me that any remedy is possible, except discipline or censure for those who did it.

But nothing of what we've seen so far suggests to me that there has been a trial. You apparently have customized rules for the conduct of discipline, since RONR says nothing about fees and the like.

 

35 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

Your organization will have to decide, given your customized rules, to what extent, if any, the unaddressed (and uncontradicted) rules in RONR apply.

I agree with Mr. Mervosh and with the others who have said that this "hearing" SHOULD be conducted in executive session.  However, I am not at all convinced that all of the rules in Chapter XX  RONR regarding "trials" and in particular the rule regarding conducting trials in executive session are applicable in this particular situation with this  particular organization based on its customized bylaw provisions regarding discipline or "preferring charges". 

I am also not convinced that the RONR rule requiring trials to be conducted in executive session, even if applicable, is a rule which cannot be suspended or that its breach would cause any discipline imposed in such a hearing to be null and void.  The rule requiring trials to be held in executive session does not appear to be a fundamental principle of parliamentary law.  I tend to agree with Mr. Katz that the only parliamentary remedy for any such a breach would be censure or discipline against those responsible for its violation.  And, of  course, whatever legal action the accused might want to pursue for damages for loss of reputation, etc... which  is something beyond the scope of this forum.  

If there is a provision in  RONR to the effect that a hearing of the sort contemplated by this organization's rules MUST be conducted in executive session and that the rule is not suspendable and that its violation renders any discipline imposed null and void, I welcome a citation.  I just don't see where this is a rule that cannot be suspended.

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2 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I am also not convinced that the RONR rule requiring trials to be conducted in executive session, even if applicable, is a rule which cannot be suspended or that its breach would cause any discipline imposed in such a hearing to be null and void.  The rule requiring trials to be held in executive session does not appear to be a fundamental principle of parliamentary law. 

Sorry to veer off from Jamies' situation but I wondered about this as well https://robertsrules.forumflash.com/topic/20385-executive-session/

 

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

Thinking practically, while RONR counsels that we don't want the details of the trial to get out (but that, to be fair, is in the context where the whole organization has the right to participate), but certainly the results will be obvious, and hence it will be obvious that charges were preferred (well, maybe not entirely obvious, but closer).

I would note that RONR’s advice on this matter is related to limiting what is shared outside of the society. How much is shared inside the society is at the assembly’s discretion. Even if the meeting had been held in executive session, it would violate no rule in RONR for the board to agreee to make a full report to the membership.

44 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I am also not convinced that the RONR rule requiring trials to be conducted in executive session, even if applicable, is a rule which cannot be suspended or that its breach would cause any discipline imposed in such a hearing to be null and void.  The rule requiring trials to be held in executive session does not appear to be a fundamental principle of parliamentary law

The rules on this subject protect the rights of an individual member (the accused), and therefore may be suspended only with the consent of the accused.

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