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Talking about a member without their consent

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If at a board meeting, the president or manager brings up a member as a topic of conversation, and begins to talk about a thing they have done that they feel was improper (or whatever), how does that board member deal with that?

Would that be a point of order situation?

Let's say someone had a complaint, but nothing was told to the board member about it... can an assembly just decide to talk about them, making accusations or questioniing them about whatever (like a cross-examination of sorts?).

Or... another scenario... let's say there is some complaint... does the member need to be given notice of some kind if someone at an upcoming meeting intends to have a discussion about it?

Would they have to move to censure the person first, in order to start such a conversation?

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2 hours ago, .oOllXllOo. said:

If at a board meeting, the president or manager brings up a member as a topic of conversation, and begins to talk about a thing they have done that they feel was improper (or whatever), how does that board member deal with that?

Would that be a point of order situation?

Let's say someone had a complaint, but nothing was told to the board member about it... can an assembly just decide to talk about them, making accusations or questioniing them about whatever (like a cross-examination of sorts?).

Or... another scenario... let's say there is some complaint... does the member need to be given notice of some kind if someone at an upcoming meeting intends to have a discussion about it?

Would they have to move to censure the person first, in order to start such a conversation?

In all of the above scenarios, a motion to censure, or some other motion where such comments would be germane, would need to be made first. Notice is not required of a motion to censure.

If such comments are made without a relevant motion pending, a Point of Order may be raised.

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17 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

If such comments are made without a relevant motion pending, a Point of Order may be raised.

Aren't they following the rules for small boards?   I can't remember with all of these threads.  Or do you feel this goes beyond informal discussion?

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22 minutes ago, George Mervosh said:

Aren't they following the rules for small boards?   I can't remember with all of these threads.  Or do you feel this goes beyond informal discussion?

Yes, small boards.

If we did engage in informal discussion, are the rules of decorum still in effect?

Are accusations made from one board member to another against decorum? 

Also, if a board member finds them self in an unfair, courtroom-like atmosphere, with the association lawyer present and asking them questions, or another board member making accusations, what should one do?

is there anything in RONR regarding the presence of lawyers?

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RONR has no rules specifically regarding the presence of lawyers, but lawyers are, like anyone else not on the board, guests of the board and (barring special rules, for instance it is common for corporate law to give a right of speaking to the company auditor) have no right to speak; they can only speak as invited by the board.

Members are not required to answer questions directed at them . It is also improper, regardless of small board rules, for a member to interrupt another, or to speak at all without having been recognized by the chair. Regardless of small board rules, the chair should be moderating debate and ensuring that speakers take turns fairly and do not interrupt one another. It is, however, permissible to interrupt when someone else has the floor to ask if they will take a question (though the chair should not allow this to be used to interrupt in the middle of a sentence or similar). Finally, I would add that although the rule is rarely enforced, the rule that all questions must be addressed through the chair is not relaxed under small board rules. Direct conversation between members (and/or guests) is still not permitted.

Of course, trying to enforce that the rules of the meeting be strictly enforced, especially as the person being questioned, could lead to displeasure among the rest of the assembly, a matter which isn't in the rules. I suggest proceeding with caution.

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5 hours ago, George Mervosh said:

Aren't they following the rules for small boards?   I can't remember with all of these threads.  Or do you feel this goes beyond informal discussion?

It would seem to me that the critical comments would certainly not be in order without a relevant motion pending, even in a small board. It seems to me that the rules of decorum still apply in a small board.

As to comments which are personal but not indecorous, I suppose there is some more latitude in a small board since comments are in order without a motion pending, but it would seem to me that such comments should still at least be germane to the topic the assembly is discussing, or failing that, germane to the assembly’s business in a general sense. I don’t think the fact that discussion with no motion pending means members have free reign to say whatever they want.

5 hours ago, .oOllXllOo. said:

If we did engage in informal discussion, are the rules of decorum still in effect?

Are accusations made from one board member to another against decorum? 

There is no doubt that the rules of decorum, to the extent of barring personal attacks or allegations against members, are in effect at all times during a meeting. I believe Mr. Mervosh’s question was whether (and to what extent) the rules of germaneness apply if there is no motion pending. I am inclined to think they apply, albeit in a modified form.

5 hours ago, .oOllXllOo. said:

Also, if a board member finds them self in an unfair, courtroom-like atmosphere, with the association lawyer present and asking them questions, or another board member making accusations, what should one do?

If a board member is being questioned by the association’s lawyer, the first thing the board member should do is to obtain their own legal counsel as soon as possible, and start directing their questions to the lawyer, as the situation likely is (or will soon become) more of a legal issue than a parliamentary issue at that point.

As noted previously, a Point of Order is likely the appropriate tool from a parliamentary perspective regarding the accusations. I don’t know that it violates any parliamentary rule to ask someone a question, although there is also no parliamentary rule requiring the member to answer.

5 hours ago, .oOllXllOo. said:

is there anything in RONR regarding the presence of lawyers?

Whether a person is or not a lawyer is irrelevant so far as RONR is concerned. Members of the assembly have all of the rights of membership. Nonmembers may only be present or speak with the consent of the assembly.

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2 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

If a board member is being questioned by the association’s lawyer, the first thing the board member should do is to obtain their own legal counsel as soon as possible, and start directing their questions to the lawyer, as the situation likely is (or will soon become) more of a legal issue than a parliamentary issue at that point.

 

 

 

So, what happens if  Board member is questioned by the association’s lawyer ...can they just refuse to talk? and then what if they do refuse to talk, but a conversation about them, including accusations and the like, take place among the other board members and the lawyer, while the member is present?

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3 minutes ago, .oOllXllOo. said:

So, what happens if  Board member is questioned by the association’s lawyer ...can they just refuse to talk? and then what if they do refuse to talk, but a conversation about them, including accusations and the like, take place among the other board members and the lawyer, while the member is present?

So far as RONR is concerned, the member is free to refuse to answer the questions. The conversation about them “including accusations and the like” is certainly out of order if no relevant motion is pending, and I think there are limits even if such a motion is pending.

I must stress again, however, in the strongest possible terms, that if you expect to be questioned by the association’s lawyer, you really need to present these questions to your own legal counsel, not to strangers on the internet. :)

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1 hour ago, Josh Martin said:

So far as RONR is concerned, the member is free to refuse to answer the questions. The conversation about them “including accusations and the like” is certainly out of order if no relevant motion is pending, and I think there are limits even if such a motion is pending.

I must stress again, however, in the strongest possible terms, that if you expect to be questioned by the association’s lawyer, you really need to present these questions to your own legal counsel, not to strangers on the internet. :)

I think I will be feeling quite ill that day, since I can not afford a lawyer.

i must say I already do 😞

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My first question is, if this is a board meeting, are the comments about a member of the board?   If this is about a member of the organization that is not a member of the board, it would not be a violation of decorum for a board member to make these type of comments.  It might not be germane.

Under small board rules, it would be acceptable to consider a response to a member's conduct without a motion pending.  It would also be acceptable to refer the question of a response of the member's conduct to a committee of the whole.

I'm using the word "conduct" specifically, because it could refer to commendable conduct.  

 

 

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On 6/28/2019 at 6:11 PM, J. J. said:

My first question is, if this is a board meeting, are the comments about a member of the board?   If this is about a member of the organization that is not a member of the board, it would not be a violation of decorum for a board member to make these type of comments.  It might not be germane.

Under small board rules, it would be acceptable to consider a response to a member's conduct without a motion pending.  It would also be acceptable to refer the question of a response of the member's conduct to a committee of the whole.

I'm using the word "conduct" specifically, because it could refer to commendable conduct.  

I

The comments would be about another board member.

The board member who might be being accused (it is yet unknown, but highly likely) of an unknown thing, has not been notified of any issues prior to the upcoming meeting, regarding conduct of any kind or breaking of rules, etc.

They are expecting to be ambushed once the meeting starts by the association president, who she had complaints about previously, but now suspects this is retaliation for speaking up.

The board did not request or authorize the association attorney to be there, be he will be there, apparently. At the former meetings when she spoke up about her complaints, the attorney was there as well, and acted as if he was defending the association president personally.

If some accusation or complaint has been made against the board member who is now scared of going to the meeting and being ambushed, and was the one who had prior complaints about the president, don’t they have a right to know what the complaint is, or what they are being accused of?

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13 hours ago, .oOllXllOo. said:

If some accusation or complaint has been made against the board member who is now scared of going to the meeting and being ambushed, and was the one who had prior complaints about the president, don’t they have a right to know what the complaint is, or what they are being accused of?

In the event that a formal trial is held under Ch. XX of RONR, a member has a right to be informed of the charges against them. Short of that, however, no, a member has no right to be informed of complaints.

Edited by Josh Martin

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48 minutes ago, Josh Martin said:

In the event that a formal trial is held under Ch. XX of RONR, a member has a right to be informed of the charges against them. Short of that, however, no, a member has no right to be informed of complaints.

So, let’s say the president and manager are planning not a trial, but to get a certain board member into a meeting for the purpose of cornering him, and making accusations during the meeting, and they plans to have the association attorney treat then like this person is on trial, but with no notice, no chance for that person to prepare their “defense” because no one will tell him what is happening (he has asked)... and that they plan to do this in such a way that violates state open meeting laws (again...this will be the third time they do this to this person since March).

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Nosey, you need to be consulting an attorney and/or a professional  parliamentarian for these things.  This, in my opinion, is getting far beyond the scope of this forum. 

As to the board attorney being there and wanting to question a member (or to speak at all, for that matter), that is something completely within the control of the board (not the chairman, but the board itself).  If a majority of board members object to either his presence or his making comments of any sort (whether as statements or posed as questions), they have the power to stop him and/or eject him from the meeting.  If the board will not stand up to the chairman, that is a different type of problem, not a parliamentary one.  If your board will not insist on following the rules and  proper decorum, I don't know that we can be of any help.  btw, the attorney (or any guest of the board, which is what the attorney is) has no right to participate in debate on a motion except by suspending the rules by means of a two thirds vote.  If he wants to speak on the subject matter of a pending motion, that is debate on the motion.  He can't get legitimately get around it by saying "this isn't debate, I'm making a comment" or  "I'm asking a question".  If it is during debate on a motion, it is debate.   Making comments is for when no motion is pending, such as addressing the board about a particular subject matter when no motion is pending.

In my opinion, you folks have personality or control issues, not so much parliamentary problems.  Well, you might have parliamentary problems, but if you are the only one who wants to follow the rules (as you believe them to be), it has become a personality or relationship or control issue. If the members won't back you, and instead back the chairman, there simply isn't much you can do about it from a parliamentary standpoint.  There is no RONR police force to call.

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