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Generally a trial would be required as part of the disciplinary procedures in RONR. Also, a motion of censure could be adopted without going through disciplinary procedures.

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7 minutes ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

Generally a trial would be required as part of the disciplinary procedures in RONR. Also, a motion of censure could be adopted without going through disciplinary procedures.

A "motion of censure" would be appropriate only if the "improper conduct" occurs during a meeting, and the motion is made "promptly after the breach occurs" (RONR pg. 649, ln. 32). Since this is the result of an investigation by a committee, it is clearly the case that it relates to conduct either "elsewhere than at a meeting," or at one or more previous meetings, either of which would require a trial (RONR pg. 649, ll. 18-32).   

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4 hours ago, MadamMember said:

If a committee tasked with an investigation finds cause for discipline, would a trial be required to recommend a private or public censure? 

If the investigative committee finds cause for discipline, the proper course of action is to adopt a motion recommending that the assembly prefer charges and schedule a trial. This is discussed in detail in RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 658-663. Such a resolution does not include a recommendation for any particular punishment (except, if desired, a temporary suspension until the conclusion of the trial).

3 hours ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

Generally a trial would be required as part of the disciplinary procedures in RONR. Also, a motion of censure could be adopted without going through disciplinary procedures.

Yes, the assembly may adopt a motion of censure without going through disciplinary procedures, but because “A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground. If thus accused, he has the right to due process—that is, to be informed of the charge and given time to prepare his defense, to appear and defend himself, and to be fairly treated,” I think there are circumstances in which even censure requires formal disciplinary procedures. (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 656) 

For instance, RONR notes that “A resolution is improper if it implies the truth of specific rumors or contains insinuations unfavorable to an officer or member, even one who is to be accused. It is out of order, for example, for a resolution to begin, "Whereas, It seems probable that the treasurer has engaged in graft, . . ." At the first mention of the word "graft" in such a case, the chair must instantly call to order the member attempting to move the resolution.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 658) If this is out of order even in a motion to appoint an investigative committee, it stands to reason that it would not be in order for a member, out of the blue, to make a motion censuring the Treasurer for graft or other serious charges. Since there is an investigative committee, it may well be that the charges are of such a nature.

Additionally, even if it would be in order for the assembly itself to adopt such a motion outside of formal disciplinary procedures, recommending as much does not appear to be the role of the investigative committee.

Edited by Josh Martin

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4 hours ago, Greg Goodwiller said:

A "motion of censure" would be appropriate only if the "improper conduct" occurs during a meeting, and the motion is made "promptly after the breach occurs" (RONR pg. 649, ln. 32). Since this is the result of an investigation by a committee, it is clearly the case that it relates to conduct either "elsewhere than at a meeting," or at one or more previous meetings, either of which would require a trial (RONR pg. 649, ll. 18-32).   

A motion to censure could be made in regard to anyone.  The target of a censure need not have done anything improper in a meeting, and may not even be a member of the organization.  A notable example was the censure of then President Andrew Jackson by the US Senate.  This type of a "motion to censure," expresses an opinion, and is not a punishment of any type (p. 643, fn).

It is, a permissible act, i.e. it violates no rule to do so, by majority vote, with no previous notice, without a trial and without the person being censured even knowing it.   That said, it may be inadvisable to adopt a "motion to censure" and/or inadvisable to publicize it. 

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Guest Zev
1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

Additionally, even if it would be in order for the assembly itself to adopt such a motion outside of formal disciplinary procedures, recommending as much does not appear to be the role of the investigative committee.

I though the OP said that the committee was tasked to conduct the specific investigation.

6 hours ago, MadamMember said:

If a committee tasked with an investigation finds cause for discipline, would a trial be required to recommend a private or public censure?

It sounded like regular disciplinary procedure to me. Or not, perhaps?

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39 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

It sounded like regular disciplinary procedure to me. Or not, perhaps?

I think that it would be within the purview of the committee to recommend that the member simply be censured for his actions, especially when the particular actions are not in dispute. I think the committee's recommendation, therefore could be that it be handled as a formal disciplinary matter with formal charges or merely as a motion of censure.

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On 2/27/2019 at 2:19 PM, MadamMember said:

If a committee tasked with an investigation finds cause for discipline, would a trial be required to recommend a private or public censure? 

Censure falls on the lowest edge of what might be called "discipline" and does not require a trial since, apart from expressing the displeasure of the assembly, it imposes no penalty or abridgement of rights.

I'm not sure what distinction you draw between private and public censure.  RONR provides only one kind of censure, and as with any sort of discipline, strongly advises that no information concerning it would ever be shared outside the society itself.

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1 hour ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Censure falls on the lowest edge of what might be called "discipline" and does not require a trial since, apart from expressing the displeasure of the assembly, it imposes no penalty or abridgement of rights.

I'm not sure what distinction you draw between private and public censure.  RONR provides only one kind of censure, and as with any sort of discipline, strongly advises that no information concerning it would ever be shared outside the society itself.

"Public censure" may involve giving the censure in open session, posting the resolution publicly, or disseminating the motion to the media.  It again a question of advisability, not the ability of the assembly to do it.

Censure, as a penalty, would have to be imposed as a result of disciplinary action.  Censure, however, need not be a penalty.  I would assume that an investigating committee could recommend that no disciplinary action take place, but could also recommend that the assembly take some other action.  That "other action" could be a motion to censure.

 

 

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Guest Zev

Warning: If the organization disciplines an officer or member, they may disclose that fact publicly, but under no circumstance may the actual charge be disclosed. In other words, "Mr. So-and-so is no longer a member of our society," but never "Mr. So-and-so is no longer a member of our society because of <and-what-he-did-that-caused-the-expulsion>". 

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3 hours ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Censure falls on the lowest edge of what might be called "discipline" and does not require a trial since, apart from expressing the displeasure of the assembly, it imposes no penalty or abridgement of rights.

I am becoming increasingly concerned by these categorical suggestions that censure may be imposed without a trial. It seems to me that it depends on the particular circumstances, such as the nature of the charges and (as Mr. Brown has suggested), whether these charges are disputed.

Additionally, the question before us is not merely whether censure is in order without a trial, but whether an investigative committee formed as part of formal disciplinary procedures may recommend censure in lieu of a trial.

18 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

Warning:If the organization disciplines an officer or member, they may disclose that fact publicly, but under no circumstance may the actual charge be disclosed. In other words, "Mr. So-and-so is no longer a member of our society," but never "Mr. So-and-so is no longer a member of our society because of <and-what-he-did-that-caused-the-expulsion>". 

I would note two things:

  • It is going too far to say that the fact that a member or officer has been disciplined may be disclosed publicly. What RONR actually says is “If (after trial) a member is expelled or an officer is removed from office, the society has the right to disclose that fact—circulating it only to the extent required for the protection of the society or, possibly, of other organizations.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 655) So disclosure is only permitted at all if the penalty is expulsion or removal from office, and even then, the disclosure is as limited as possible.
  • The original question was about adopting a motion to censure instead of a trial. In such cases, this is not considered to be “discipline,” and there are therefore no parliamentary rules concerning disclosure. (Although, as JJ notes, there may be other reasons why disclosing the motion may not be desirable.)
Edited by Josh Martin

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Guest Zev
14 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

I am becoming increasingly concerned by these categorical suggestions that censure may be imposed without a trial.

My understanding is that the assembly may impose whatever penalty they deem appropriate without a trial if the offense occurred during a meeting. If the offense occurred elsewhere, then a trial is required.

16 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

...but whether an investigative committee formed as part of formal disciplinary procedures may recommend censure in lieu of a trial.

It would seem a little bit strange to me that a committee formed for this purpose would make a recommendation that is somehow improper or disallowed, taking into consideration the assembly's instructions. Maybe I am just not understanding what Mr. Martin is getting at.

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14 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

My understanding is that the assembly may impose whatever penalty they deem appropriate without a trial if the offense occurred during a meeting.

Yes, provided that the disciplinary action is taken promptly after the offense occurs.

16 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

If the offense occurred elsewhere, then a trial is required.

Censure may potentially be imposed without a trial, regardless of when the conduct occurred, and in such cases it is not considered to be a penalty.

19 minutes ago, Guest Zev said:

It would seem a little bit strange to me that a committee formed for this purpose would make a recommendation that is somehow improper or disallowed, taking into consideration the assembly's instructions. Maybe I am just not understanding what Mr. Martin is getting at.

Well, there are two questions here:

  • May the assembly censure this member without a trial? I think the answer to this is “maybe.”
  • Even if the assembly may censure the member without a trial, may the investigative committee make that recommendation? I originally thought the answer was “no,” but I do find Mr. Brown and JJ’s arguments on this point persuasive.

Certainly if it is not in order to censure the member without a trial, then it is also not in order for the investigative committee to make that recommendation.

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21 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

I think that it would be within the purview of the committee to recommend that the member simply be censured for his actions, especially when the particular actions are not in dispute. I think the committee's recommendation, therefore could be that it be handled as a formal disciplinary matter with formal charges or merely as a motion of censure.

I am having difficulty accepting this, but I will openly admit that my, although fairly extensive, experience with disciplinary processes is specifically related to discipline in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has its own disciplinary rules.  So comments in this stream such as J.J.'s related to censuring someone who isn't even a member of the organization are completely foreign to me.

Please help me to understand how it is in any way fair (RONR pg. 656, ln. 18) to a member to censure them without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves and their position.

And also, how do you square this position with the statement I referenced in my original post (RONR pg. 649, ll. 18-32)?

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13 minutes ago, Greg Goodwiller said:

And also, how do you square this position with the statement I referenced in my original post (RONR pg. 649, ll. 18-32)?

Respectfully, the statement in your original post is incorrect. There are certainly at least some cases in which members or officers may be censured other than conduct occurring during a meeting (and promptly after the breach occurs).

“A motion to ratify can be amended by substituting a motion of censure, and vice versa, when the action involved has been taken by an officer or other representative of the assembly. Since the motion to ratify (or to censure) is a main motion, it is debatable and opens the entire question to debate.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 125)

”Or assume that the following is the pending motion: "that the City Council commend Officer George for his action in ..." An amendment to strike out "commend" and insert "censure," although antagonistic to the original intent, is germane and in order because both ideas deal with the council's opinion of the officer's action. Also, since a motion to censure the officer for the same act could not be introduced independently in the same session after the adoption of a motion to commend him, the amendment to change commend to censure is germane under the rule given above. It should be noted that censure is different from not commend (see Improper Amendments, below).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 137) (Although this one is a bit different since, in the example provided, the person in question appears to not be a member or officer of the assembly. This does not necessarily mean, however, that the motion would be out of order in regards to a member or officer of the assembly.)

“Except as may be necessary in the case of a motion of censure or a motion related to disciplinary procedures (61, 63), a motion must not use language that reflects on a member's conduct or character, or is discourteous, unnecessarily harsh, or not allowed in debate (see 43).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 344)

”Whenever a motion is made that refers only to the presiding officer in a capacity not shared in common with other members, or that commends or censures him with others, he should turn the chair over to the vice-president or appropriate temporary occupant (see below) during the assembly's consideration of that motion, just as he would in a case where he wishes to take part in debate (see also pp. 394–95).” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 451)

I agree that what is said on pg. 656 places limitations on the assembly’s ability to censure a member outside of disciplinary proceedings, but it does not eliminate it.

Edited by Josh Martin

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41 minutes ago, Greg Goodwiller said:

I am having difficulty accepting this, but I will openly admit that my, although fairly extensive, experience with disciplinary processes is specifically related to discipline in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has its own disciplinary rules.  So comments in this stream such as J.J.'s related to censuring someone who isn't even a member of the organization are completely foreign to me.

Please help me to understand how it is in any way fair (RONR pg. 656, ln. 18) to a member to censure them without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves and their position.

And also, how do you square this position with the statement I referenced in my original post (RONR pg. 649, ll. 18-32)?

Censure can be two different things.  It can be a penalty in a disciplinary action.  It can be an expression of a negative opinion of the assembly of someone or something.

Provided it is not dilatory, it would be in order for this group to adopt a motion, "That Greg Goodwiller be censured for posting on the RONR board."  The assembly would be expressing a negative opinion of your actions.  They are not, and could not, inflicting a punishment on you.  Even if you were a member, this would not be a punishment.   The society is expressing an opinion, not determining guilt.

If you were a member, they could find you guilty of something and inflict a punishment.  They could find that you engaged in conduct that damaged the good name of the organization, and that the specification is that you did this by "posting on the RONR board."  They would have to determine that you did damage the name of the organization, and that you did so by posting on the RONR board; they would do that by the trial.  If they did find you guilty, one possible penalty is to censure you.  If that was the penalty, they would not that you are guilty of an offense and that you are punished by being censured.

I don't like to do this, but I am attaching a copy of an article that might explain it  in more detail.  I would call your attention to footnote 4.

PJ 30.doc

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Thank you all for your further explanations. "Censure" in my church discipline world is inextricably connected to a finding of guilt in a disciplinary proceeding. I shall try my best to think beyond that limitation when dealing with censure in broader contexts.

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3 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I am becoming increasingly concerned by these categorical suggestions that censure may be imposed without a trial. It seems to me that it depends on the particular circumstances, such as the nature of the charges and (as Mr. Brown has suggested), whether these charges are disputed.

Well, I'd be glad to be corrected if I have that wrong, but my understanding was that it does not require a trial. If a motion to ratify an action can be, by a simple one-word amendment, be transformed into a motion to censure, without the need to convene any disciplinary tribunals, then when is a trial required?  It that example [RONR §10, under Motion to Adopt and Motion to Ratify], the offense did not take place during a meeting--at least not in the same meeting as the motion. 

If it is the case that a trial is held, then censure is certainly one of the recommendations that can be returned. But under what circumstances would a motion to censure require a trial?  I have no wish to be the source of wrong information.

3 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

My understanding is that the assembly may impose whatever penalty they deem appropriate without a trial if the offense occurred during a meeting. If the offense occurred elsewhere, then a trial is required.

That is mine as well, except as noted above. The logic is that if an offense occurs in a meeting, the assembly deciding the punishment (if any) is entirely composed of eyewitnesses to the offense.

Edited by Gary Novosielski

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22 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

Well, I'd be glad to be corrected if I have that wrong, but my understanding was that it does not require a trial. If a motion to ratify an action can be, by a simple one-word amendment, be transformed into a motion to censure, without the need to convene any disciplinary tribunals, then when is a trial required?  It that example [RONR §10, under Motion to Adopt and Motion to Ratify], the offense did not take place during a meeting--at least not in the same meeting as the motion. 

If it is the case that a trial is held, then censure is certainly one of the recommendations that can be returned. But under what circumstances would a motion to censure require a trial?  I have no wish to be the source of wrong information.

“A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground. If thus accused, he has the right to due process—that is, to be informed of the charge and given time to prepare his defense, to appear and defend himself, and to be fairly treated.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 656) This right seems to be fairly meaningless if members can make whatever allegations they wish simply by including them in a motion to censure.

For instance, RONR notes that “A resolution is improper if it implies the truth of specific rumors or contains insinuations unfavorable to an officer or member, even one who is to be accused. It is out of order, for example, for a resolution to begin, "Whereas, It seems probable that the treasurer has engaged in graft, . . ." At the first mention of the word "graft" in such a case, the chair must instantly call to order the member attempting to move the resolution.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 658) If this is out of order even in a motion to appoint an investigative committee, it stands to reason that it would not be in order for a member, out of the blue, to make a motion censuring the Treasurer for graft or other serious charges.

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57 minutes ago, Gary Novosielski said:

That is mine as well, except as noted above. The logic is that if an offense occurs in a meeting, the assembly deciding the punishment (if any) is entirely composed of eyewitnesses to the offense.

However, given the comments of Messrs. Martin and Goodwiller, it appears as though different organizations may consider censure as a form of punishment and others not. And how they feel about this issue is up to them to decide.

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Then what are we to make of the footnote on p. 643?:

Quote

*It is also possible to adopt a motion of censure without formal disciplinary procedures.

Or the exception to decorum on p.344, ll. 1-5: (emphasis added)

Quote

Except as may be necessary in the case of a motion of censure or a motion related to disciplinary procedures (61, 63), a motion must not use language that reflects on a member’s conduct or character, or is discourteous, unnecessarily harsh, or not allowed in debate (see 43).

 

Note well the use of the word "or" in the above citation, confirming the idea that a motion to censure and a motion related to discipline are not necessarily the same thing.

I don't disagree that "it stands to reason" but I've used that phrase in my attempts to interpret the rules, and have been bitten more than once.

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1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

“A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground. If thus accused, he has the right to due process—that is, to be informed of the charge and given time to prepare his defense, to appear and defend himself, and to be fairly treated.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 656) This right seems to be fairly meaningless if members can make whatever allegations they wish simply by including them in a motion to censure.

For instance, RONR notes that “A resolution is improper if it implies the truth of specific rumors or contains insinuations unfavorable to an officer or member, even one who is to be accused. It is out of order, for example, for a resolution to begin, "Whereas, It seems probable that the treasurer has engaged in graft, . . ." At the first mention of the word "graft" in such a case, the chair must instantly call to order the member attempting to move the resolution.” (RONR, 11th ed., pg. 658) If this is out of order even in a motion to appoint an investigative committee, it stands to reason that it would not be in order for a member, out of the blue, to make a motion censuring the Treasurer for graft or other serious charges.

There is a difference between the assembly making an allegation or judgment and of the assembly expressing an opinion. 

In your example, the assembly is saying "Treasurer, we are accusing you of engaging in graft.  We intend to prove it as a moral certainty and punish you for it."  In the second one, the is "Treasurer, we think you engaged in graft, but we are not going to try to prove it or penalize you."

I would liken it, to an extent, to a person being arrested in a criminal case and a person being named a "person of interest" in a criminal case. 

I was actually a "person of interest" in a criminal case for a few days.  Then the investigators decided that I wasn't that interesting.  :)

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9 hours ago, J. J. said:

There is a difference between the assembly making an allegation or judgment and of the assembly expressing an opinion. 

In your example, the assembly is saying "Treasurer, we are accusing you of engaging in graft.  We intend to prove it as a moral certainty and punish you for it."  In the second one, the is "Treasurer, we think you engaged in graft, but we are not going to try to prove it or penalize you."

I don’t think the person being accused of graft would make this distinction. It seems to me that either of these is exactly the sort of allegations against a member’s character that the rule on pg. 656 seeks to prevent, except through formal disciplinary procedures.

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5 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

I don’t think the person being accused of graft would make this distinction. It seems to me that either of these is exactly the sort of allegations against a member’s character that the rule on pg. 656 seeks to prevent, except through formal disciplinary procedures.

It does not make a difference what the person subject to a motion to censure thinks about a motion.  If he is a member, he cannot be prohibited from voting on it, or speaking to it.  A motion "that ___ be censured" is an expression of the opinion of the assembly.  It does not allege; it is not a penalty.  As that, it is amendable and may express a different opinion, e.g. the word "censured" could be struck and "praised" be inserted.  None of could be done in relation to the penalty of censure. 

What if the motion was "that Mr. X be condemned," or that "the assembly abhors Mr. X ?"  It does not matter if Mr. X is a member of the assembly or not; the assembly can express these views.  The are, however, not a penalty.  If Mr. X is a member, he is no more impacted by this expression than any other member.  He may not like the motion but so would anyone in the minority.

The assembly can express its opinion, positively or negatively, of a member, or of anyone else.

 

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