Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums

Recommended Posts

Guest Who's Coming to Dinner

What good is censure without an allegation? Doesn't such a motion typically include the reason for censure?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not understand all of the confusion and concern about the motion to censure someone.  I think its purpose and use is explained perfectly well on pages 125, 137, 344, 451 and 643 (including the footnote on page 643) of RONR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Richard Brown said:

I do not understand all of the confusion and concern about the motion to censure someone.  I think its purpose and use is explained perfectly well on pages 125, 137, 344, 451 and 643 (including the footnote on page 643) of RONR.

My confusion and concern is whether it is permitted to include any accusations whatsoever in a motion to censure, or if there are limits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

My confusion and concern is whether it is permitted to include any accusations whatsoever in a motion to censure, or if there are limits.

 

3 hours ago, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

What good is censure without an allegation? Doesn't such a motion typically include the reason for censure?

A motion "that ____ be censured" isn't an accusation or allegation.  It is an opinion.

A motion "that ____'s penalty is censure," is the inflicting of a penalty.  That isn't an opinion or allegation.  That is a judgment. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/28/2019 at 7:56 PM, J. J. said:

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

Thank you for overcoming your dislike for including attachments. Fascinating article. It seems to me that in the transition from the 10th to the 11th Editions, some potential confusion has been introduced. In the article, as I read it, in the 10th, "censure" was not a disciplinary action. In the 11th edition, "censure" replaced "reprimand" as the lowest level of "punishment."

Risking "the wrath of Dan" here for a moment, in my church's constitution, "The degrees of church censure are rebuke, rebuke with supervised rehabilitation, temporary exclusion from exercise of ordered ministry or membership, and removal from ordered ministry or membership.  Whatever the censure is, it is never given with malice and vindictiveness but in Christian love to offer correction in error and restoration of the community." So for us, "censure" is any of the disciplinary actions - but only those - as I'm sure it is for other organizations as well. I assume  a "motion to censure" would therefore be out of order under our rules.

Sorry Mr. Honemann. I'll stick to RONR from here on out. . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Greg Goodwiller said:

Thank you for overcoming your dislike for including attachments. Fascinating article. It seems to me that in the transition from the 10th to the 11th Editions, some potential confusion has been introduced. In the article, as I read it, in the 10th, "censure" was not a disciplinary action. In the 11th edition, "censure" replaced "reprimand" as the lowest level of "punishment."

Risking "the wrath of Dan" here for a moment, in my church's constitution, "The degrees of church censure are rebuke, rebuke with supervised rehabilitation, temporary exclusion from exercise of ordered ministry or membership, and removal from ordered ministry or membership.  Whatever the censure is, it is never given with malice and vindictiveness but in Christian love to offer correction in error and restoration of the community." So for us, "censure" is any of the disciplinary actions - but only those - as I'm sure it is for other organizations as well. I assume  a "motion to censure" would therefore be out of order under our rules.

Sorry Mr. Honemann. I'll stick to RONR from here on out. . .

Censure was not listed as a penalty in the 10th edition.  The term "reprimand" was used.  There was some question on if reprimand was punishment and censure was not.

"Censure" the this constitution seems to refer to punishment; it is not a penalty in and of itself.  I would think that a motion "That ___ be censured," could be adopted, provided that it didn't slip in into discipline.  Similar wording could be used, i.e. "That ___ be condemned," "That ____ be repudiated," or "That _____ be criticized." 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, J. J. said:

Censure was not listed as a penalty in the 10th edition.  The term "reprimand" was used.  There was some question on if reprimand was punishment and censure was not.

"Censure" the this constitution seems to refer to punishment; it is not a penalty in and of itself.  I would think that a motion "That ___ be censured," could be adopted, provided that it didn't slip in into discipline.  Similar wording could be used, i.e. "That ___ be condemned," "That ____ be repudiated," or "That _____ be criticized." 

Assuming such a motion is in order, I would think alternative wording seems preferable to ensure that the motion is not confused with “censure” as defined in the constitution. In particular, “criticized” seems the least similar to “rebuke.”

It is also conceivable that the wording could be interpreted to prevent the adoption of any motion expressing disapproval of a member (except through the disciplinary procedures in the organization’s rules). This ultimately seems like a question for the organization itself to interpret.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Josh Martin said:

Assuming such a motion is in order, I would think alternative wording seems preferable to ensure that the motion is not confused with “censure” as defined in the constitution. In particular, “criticized” seems the least similar to “rebuke.”

It is also conceivable that the wording could be interpreted to prevent the adoption of any motion expressing disapproval of a member (except through the disciplinary procedures in the organization’s rules). This ultimately seems like a question for the organization itself to interpret.

I will agree that there could be confusion; this thread is probably an example.  However, we don't know what, if any, additional effect a "rebuke," the penalty, would have.  It might be noted in the person's record that he was found guilty and punished, by rebuke, for an offense; it might require some type of formal notification*.  That would not be the case if the motion was "That ___ be censured," or "condemned" or "criticized."

Again, the fact that there is a formal process for disciplinary action, does not the assembly from adopting a motion that expresses an opinion, even a negative one, of a member.  Expressing a negative opinion of a member is not disciplinary action.  That should be clear based on p. 125, ll. 15-20.  There would have to a rule, which would be in the nature of a rule of order, that prohibits a motion expressing a negative opinion of a member. 

*In a different denomination, I am aware that there is formal notification of an "admonition," a disciplinary act. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/28/2019 at 11:07 PM, 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.

 

On 3/1/2019 at 12:36 AM, 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 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.  :)

 

On 3/1/2019 at 9:50 AM, 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.

I agree with Mr. Martin. It is out of order for the assembly to express the "opinion", without any prior investigation by a committee, that one of its members has engaged in graft.

The statements in RONR that

"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)." (p. 344) 

and

"It is also possible to adopt a motion of censure without formal disciplinary procedures." (p. 643n)

do not give an assembly carte blanche to violate the rule that "A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground." (p. 656)

Calling an allegation, or any other statement that implies that a specific event occurred, an "opinion" doesn't make it proper. Frankly, I'd be surprised to learn that anyone here other than J.J. believes it does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An opinion is an opinion, positive or negative.  It makes no charge, as such, against a member.  It does not say, "We find ______ guilty of some offense."  That is where I see the distinction.

There are two different motions; I will use Member 1 as an example.

1.  "That Member 1 is censured for X."

2.  "Member 1 is found guilty of doing X.  The punishment for doing X is censure."

Two points.  A motion to censure may be properly amended to become a motion to commend. The motion, "That Member 1 be censured for X" may be amended by striking out 'censure' and inserting 'commend.'"  The motion to determine guilt, "Is Member 1 guilty of doing X."  That cannot be amended into expressing a different opinion.

Second, a member may be found guilty and not receive any punishment.  No option for punishment can muster a majority.  There, the assembly, has considered a charge that could result in expulsion, and has found that the member has committed that act.   He is guilty of something that can warrant punishment, including his unfitness for membership.

A motion, "That Member 1 is censured for X," assigns no such guilt.  At no point is there any suggestion that Member 1 is unfit for membership.  The assembly is saying is saying we disagree with something we think Member 1 did, but Member 1 is totally fit for membership. 

The assembly may express its disapproval of some member's action, without slipping into discipline.

As a matter of procedure, that should be acceptable. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

 

 

I agree with Mr. Martin. It is out of order for the assembly to express the "opinion", without any prior investigation by a committee, that one of its members has engaged in graft.

The statements in RONR that

"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)." (p. 344) 

and

"It is also possible to adopt a motion of censure without formal disciplinary procedures." (p. 643n)

do not give an assembly carte blanche to violate the rule that "A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground." (p. 656)

Calling an allegation, or any other statement that implies that a specific event occurred, an "opinion" doesn't make it proper. Frankly, I'd be surprised to learn that anyone here other than J.J. believes it does.

Since you have raised it.  How could you possibly square that opinion with pp. 124-5.

It is very clear that a motion to ratify may be amended to a motion to censure, e.g. "That we confirm Member 2's action taken in excess of his instructions," could be amended  by substitute at least, to "that we censure Member 2 for taking action action in excess of his instructions."  Member 2 may to be aware of the motion, as previous notice is not required, and may not even be present.  Further, while the motion and any amendment is debatable, the Previous Question may called on the amendment and then the now amended motion to censure without giving any chance to speak to either the motion or the amendment. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, J. J. said:

An opinion is an opinion, positive or negative.  It makes no charge, as such, against a member.  It does not say, "We find ______ guilty of some offense."  That is where I see the distinction.

And you've expressed that distinction several times, in this thread and others. But it's a distinction without a difference, and does not give the assembly permission to insinuate an unproven allegation or assumption that a member has done something bad.

50 minutes ago, J. J. said:

Since you have raised it.  How could you possibly square that opinion with pp. 124-5.

It is very clear that a motion to ratify may be amended to a motion to censure, e.g. "That we confirm Member 2's action taken in excess of his instructions," could be amended  by substitute at least, to "that we censure Member 2 for taking action action in excess of his instructions."  Member 2 may to be aware of the motion, as previous notice is not required, and may not even be present.  Further, while the motion and any amendment is debatable, the Previous Question may called on the amendment and then the now amended motion to censure without giving any chance to speak to either the motion or the amendment. 

 

First of all, a motion that says nothing other than "That we confirm Member 2's action taken in excess of his instructions" would probably be out of order because it doesn't say what it's talking about. Second, assuming the motion does say what action it is referring to, it would be quite strange to confirm an action where there is some question as to whether the action took place. Since presumably the facts are not in dispute, there are no "allegations against his good name" being made against Member 2 (even if the motion is amended to one of censure), but merely the assembly's expression of its opinion regarding actions he is known to have taken in the name of the organization.

Edited by Shmuel Gerber
added the underlined words

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/1/2019 at 3:26 PM, J. J. said:

A motion "that ___ be censured" is an expression of the opinion of the assembly.  It does not allege; it is not a penalty.

 

On 3/1/2019 at 7:05 PM, Guest Who's Coming to Dinner said:

What good is censure without an allegation? Doesn't such a motion typically include the reason for censure?

This is a good point. It's difficult to have an informative discussion here when motions offered as examples are so poorly worded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

 

First of all, a motion that says nothing other than "That we confirm Member 2's action taken in excess of his instructions" would probably be out of order because it doesn't say what it's talking about. Second, assuming the motion does say what action it is referring to, it would be quite strange to confirm an action where there is some question as to whether the action took place. Since presumably the facts are not in dispute, there are no "allegations against his good name" being made against Member 2 (even if the motion is amended to one of censure), but merely the assembly's expression of its opinion regarding actions he is known to have taken in the name of the organization.

It is a distinction with a difference; that is the particular point.  It does reflect on anything that effect his status as a member; there no claim that this will make him unfit.  It is not something that violates the "standards" of the member.

The second is a sample, but if you want it fleshed out more it can be expressed as "That we confirm Member's 2 action in regard to X, taken in excess of his instructions."

As to the facts "not being in dispute," how would the assembly know?  Member 2 may not be there, and, if there, may not be permitted to speak in debate on the motion.  He would not have a right to offer a defense.

Even if the facts are not in dispute, I would hold that this would not make any difference.  The facts may not be in dispute, but if these were actual "allegations against his good name," there would be the need for formal disciplinary action.  It is not merely that the facts are clear but if the action itself rises to something that that could cause the member to be expelled.  He would have to "show cause why he should be expelled (p. 660, ll.  4-7)." 

For discipline to be used, the question is not merely if the accused committed an act, but if that act rises to something that can impair his membership, i.e. a charge.  There is not claim that a motion to censure Member 2 does rise to that level.  It is the difference between the assembly saying, **we disagree, strongly, with something you did,** and the assembly saying **what you did makes you unfit for membership.**

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Zev

The question by the OP was whether a committee that was tasked with an investigation could make any particular recommendation. Mr. Huynh's answer could have ended the thread right then and there. Nevertheless, if MadameMember understands that the answer is "yes," then as a group we have answered her question and provided the good advice she was looking for, even though it was somewhat wordily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/15/2019 at 3:04 PM, J. J. said:

For discipline to be used, the question is not merely if the accused committed an act, but if that act rises to something that can impair his membership, i.e. a charge.  There is not claim that a motion to censure Member 2 does rise to that level.  It is the difference between the assembly saying, **we disagree, strongly, with something you did,** and the assembly saying **what you did makes you unfit for membership.**

I think you're talking in circles now. Earlier you wrote:

'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." '

Obviously, in practically all societies, graft is an action by the treasurer that would tend to injure the organization, and any insinuation that the treasurer has engaged in it would bring harm to his or her reputation. The fact that the society does not choose to bring charges does not change the nature of the offense or the implied accusation.

A motion to censure the treasurer for engaging in graft, when unsupported by an investigation and trial, clearly runs afoul of the rule that "A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground." Your argument that the motion of censure's lack of a charge makes it OK is exactly backward. The fact that no charges -- accompanied by a fair disciplinary process -- are brought is exactly what makes such a motion not OK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

I think you're talking in circles now. Earlier you wrote:

'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." '

Obviously, in practically all societies, graft is an action by the treasurer that would tend to injure the organization, and any insinuation that the treasurer has engaged in it would bring harm to his or her reputation. The fact that the society does not choose to bring charges does not change the nature of the offense or the implied accusation.

A motion to censure the treasurer for engaging in graft, when unsupported by an investigation and trial, clearly runs afoul of the rule that "A member or officer has the right that allegations against his good name shall not be made except by charges brought on reasonable ground." Your argument that the motion of censure's lack of a charge makes it OK is exactly backward. The fact that no charges -- accompanied by a fair disciplinary process -- are brought is exactly what makes such a motion not OK.

You think this action makes him unfit for membership or that it tends to injure the organization.  The assembly does not.  It is the assembly's decision; it is neither your decision nor mine. 

Any opinion expressed by the assembly of a member, has the potential of harming a member's reputation.  A motion to "that Member A be commended for great job he does running his bordello," could be  a negative for Member A's reputation.  That motion to commend is not a charge nor does it imply that the assembly thinks that this would make him unfit for membership.  Conversely, a motion that "Member A, be censured for organizing a neighborhood trash cleanup," may be a positive for Member A's reputation.   The assembly does not think it makes him unfit for membership, even if the assembly feels that it is subject to censure .  

The "charge" has to involve something that could impair his status as a member.  Assume that a motion "That Member A be censured for _____" were offered and then postponed.  The assembly could not adopt a motion suspending any of his rights of membership, as described on p. 662, ll.  25-31.  That would violate his rights of membership.  If the member were charged, even without a finding of guilt, those rights of membership can be limited. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...