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Disciplinary Procedures


Guest JCT
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I have several questions regarding the disciplinary procedure.  First, Is the complainant entitled to demand a written rebuttal for review before the complaint and rebuttal are brought before the board of inquiry? Second, can the complainant amend his complaint by adding a second complaint against another member after the first complaint has been scheduled for a hearing? Third, Is it proper protocol for the accused to hand over a written rebuttal to the complainant at the hearing? Bylaws state that a written complaint be given to the board and that the two parties will have the opportunity to appear in front of the board to discuss the complaint. 

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Thank you for the responses.  In addition, the bylaws have a provision in which RONR shall 'govern the proceedings in all courses of action not addressed in the bylaws and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws.'  Does RONR address the questions in my original post?

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Chapter XX of RONR (which is quite complex) deals with the disciplinary process. However, the point of the answers above is that, by all indications (that is, as far as we can see) your bylaws do, in fact, address discipline - which is pretty common, precisely because of the complexity of RONR. If you give us the exact wording from your bylaws (if it's relatively short) we might be able to give some guidance or clues.

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33 minutes ago, Guest jct said:

Thank you for the responses.  In addition, the bylaws have a provision in which RONR shall 'govern the proceedings in all courses of action not addressed in the bylaws and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws.'  Does RONR address the questions in my original post?

I will do my best to answer these questions so far as the disciplinary process in RONR is concerned, but since the procedures you describe above (including in the rule in your bylaws you refer to) bear little similarity to RONR, it is not clear that these answers will be of any assistance in answering questions regarding the disciplinary process in your organization’s bylaws. In particular, there is no “complainant” in the disciplinary procedures in RONR, and all of your questions involve the role of the “complainant.”

23 hours ago, Guest JCT said:

First, Is the complainant entitled to demand a written rebuttal for review before the complaint and rebuttal are brought before the board of inquiry?

For starters, there is no “complainant,” no “complaint,” and no “board of inquiry” in the disciplinary procedures in RONR.

In RONR, charges are brought only by the society itself upon adoption of a motion to do so, after having received a recommendation on this matter from an investigative committee (also appointed by the society and tasked with investigating the charges). A trial is held before the society itself or before a trial committee appointed by the society. The parties in the trial are the accused (and his counsel, if any) and the managers, who are appointed by the society itself, and who “have the task of presenting the evidence against the accused, and must be members of the society. Their duty, however, is not to act as prosecutors—in the sense of making every effort to secure conviction—but rather to strive that the trial will get at the truth and that, in the light of all facts brought out, the outcome will be just.” (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 662-663)

At the trial itself, the procedure is more complex than hearing a complaint and rebuttal, and includes the reading of the charge and specifications, a plea from the accused, opening statements from both sides (the managers first), testimony of witnesses produced by the managers, testimony of witnesses in the defense of the accused, rebuttal witnesses from the managers and the accused (in that order), and closing arguments by both sides. There might also be cross-examination, redirect examination, and recross-examination, and witnesses may be recalled for further testimony.

With all that said, neither the managers, nor any other person, have the right to demand a written rebuttal for review prior to the trial under the disciplinary procedures in RONR.

23 hours ago, Guest JCT said:

Second, can the complainant amend his complaint by adding a second complaint against another member after the first complaint has been scheduled for a hearing?

As noted above, there is no “complainant” and no “complaint.” Charges are brought by the society itself upon adoption of a motion to do so, and the trial would be scheduled at that time.

With that said, no, it is not in order to amend the charges after the society has preferred charges. Another motion preferring charges would need to be adopted.

23 hours ago, Guest JCT said:

Third, Is it proper protocol for the accused to hand over a written rebuttal to the complainant at the hearing?

As noted above, there is no “complainant.” No rule in RONR requires the accused to prepare written statements in his defense or, if he does, to produce these documents to the managers or to any other person, but no rule in RONR prohibits it either.

Edited by Josh Martin
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The bottom line, guest JCT, is that because of the extensive disciplinary proceedings procedures set out in your own by laws and rules, the procedures on discipline in RONR are rendered inapplicable. Your own procedures supersede those in RONR. It is up to your organization to interpret its rules. We cannot do that for you.

Edited by Richard Brown
Changed one word as indicated
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