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Censure / proposed penalty is this over reach


Robert Dingus
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In my recent posting about, violations of Executive Session rules of privacy.

We opted to use the language below, the heading for each offender was modified to specify the specific action they used to get this handed to them.

Since our Bylaws do not cover this our action were purely by RROR, as best as we could relate to them, without the public announcement of the offenders, they remain private unless shared by themselves publicly to the association body. Our Bylaws do state that and action like this does have a 10 day rebuttal/ challenge clause.

This was delivered by certified mail per our bylaws.

2 members have chosen to challenge this, so we go to the bottom line of this letter.

My question is, is this over reach, since our bylaws have no defined punishments or teeth so to speak.

 

On June 19, 2019 at approximately 7:58 PM you violated the Executive Session Rules by disclosing to an outside third party the contents of a meeting in which you were an active participant. After have being dually warned of the consequences of violating said rules. Referenced the Email you sent / initiated.

 

You are hereby placed on censure for the term of 6 months, you are placed on the following restrictions.

  1. You’re privileges to join, participate or be a member of or guest of any Committee or Group of the (named society) have been suspended for 6 months

  2. You’re privileges to participate or be a guest member or participant of any Board or Special Association meetings have been suspended for 6 months

  3. You are permitted to attend the Annual Meeting and participate with your Right to vote.

This Censure is delivered Administratively, to protect your privacy within this society.

If you choose to disclose to the public this action of Censure that is completely at your discretion.

You have 10 days to challenge this censure at which time The Association will be required to follow Roberts Rules of Order 11th edition beginning on page 643 Discipline of Members and Guests.

 

 

Robert

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The thing that concerns me is the use of the expression "without the public announcement of the offenders," and then the expression "they remain private unless shared by themselves publicly to the association body." I get the impression that some confusion has crept as to what is "private" and what is "public."

In my opinion what is "private" in such situations is not divulging these events or the identities of the people involved to individuals that are not members of this society. What is "public" does not involve keeping the events or the identities of the people involved a secret from the members of the society itself. If what the member did was to disclose the events of an executive session to another member of the society that just happened to not be present, then I think the punishment is uncalled for.

Quote

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. Neither the society nor any of its members has the right to make public the charge of which an officer or member has been found guilty, or to reveal any other details connected with the case. To make any of the facts public may constitute libel.

RONR 11th edition, p. 655.

It has always been my understanding that the use of the word "public" is meant to signify outsiders, non-members of the society, and not in the sense of anyone that was not physically present at the time of the trial.

Apparently the member affected has an appeal process. This is somewhat comforting, although I would prefer the punishment to be announced after the hearing and not before. Also, the charge should be the result of an investigation and a vote by either the assembly or other body specifically empowered to do so by the bylaws.

Perhaps you would consider changing "1. You're..." and "2. You're..." into "Your."

59 minutes ago, Robert Dingus said:

This Censure is delivered Administratively, to protect your privacy within this society.

Absolutely not. Members of a society have every right to know what their officers are doing in their name. The idea of secret punishments, at least to me, is abhorrent; it smacks of intimidation and persecution. Perhaps it was not intended that way. Allow the assembly or a duly constituted disciplinary committee to decide such questions. It is much safer.

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Robert, do you have a copy of RONR? If not, I suggest you get one. If you do have one, I suggest you read chapter XX, the chapter on discipline and disciplinary procedures.

About the only thing that RONR lets you do to a member without notice and a hearing and due process is the adoption of a motion of censure. And a motion of censure carries absolutely, positively no punishment, but is merely a statement that says, in effect, "we disapprove of something you did". That's it. No punishment. No suspension. Nothing.

To do more than that requires following the disciplinary procedures in RONR or whatever disciplinary procedures are contained in your own bylaws.

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3 hours ago, Robert Dingus said:

In my recent posting about, violations of Executive Session rules of privacy.

We opted to use the language below, the heading for each offender was modified to specify the specific action they used to get this handed to them.

Since our Bylaws do not cover this our action were purely by RROR, as best as we could relate to them, without the public announcement of the offenders, they remain private unless shared by themselves publicly to the association body. Our Bylaws do state that and action like this does have a 10 day rebuttal/ challenge clause.

This was delivered by certified mail per our bylaws.

2 members have chosen to challenge this, so we go to the bottom line of this letter.

My question is, is this over reach, since our bylaws have no defined punishments or teeth so to speak.

 

On June 19, 2019 at approximately 7:58 PM you violated the Executive Session Rules by disclosing to an outside third party the contents of a meeting in which you were an active participant. After have being dually warned of the consequences of violating said rules. Referenced the Email you sent / initiated.

 

You are hereby placed on censure for the term of 6 months, you are placed on the following restrictions.

  1. You’re privileges to join, participate or be a member of or guest of any Committee or Group of the (named society) have been suspended for 6 months

  2. You’re privileges to participate or be a guest member or participant of any Board or Special Association meetings have been suspended for 6 months

  3. You are permitted to attend the Annual Meeting and participate with your Right to vote.

This Censure is delivered Administratively, to protect your privacy within this society.

If you choose to disclose to the public this action of Censure that is completely at your discretion.

You have 10 days to challenge this censure at which time The Association will be required to follow Roberts Rules of Order 11th edition beginning on page 643 Discipline of Members and Guests. 

For starters, this misunderstands the meaning of the term “censure,” which is simply an expression of disapproval and carries no other consequences.

More importantly, the actions taken are improper. So far as RONR is concerned, a member’s rights may only be suspended by the society itself, and only after completion of the procedures in RONR starting on pg. 654 (the procedures starting on pg. 643 are for offenses occurring during a meeting). It is not permitted to preemptively declare that certain punishments are imposed unless challenged by the member.

RONR does note that the investigative committee (although I am not certain this committee has yet been appointed) may privately recommend to the member to resign in order to avoid a trial, but there is no procedure in RONR for a member voluntarily accepting a suspension of some of his rights.

2 hours ago, Guest Zev said:

In my opinion what is "private" in such situations is not divulging these events or the identities of the people involved to individuals that are not members of this society. What is "public" does not involve keeping the events or the identities of the people involved a secret from the members of the society itself. If what the member did was to disclose the events of an executive session to another member of the society that just happened to not be present, then I think the punishment is uncalled for.

As I recall from the previous thread by the OP, the member was a guest at an executive session of the board, and he discussed the events of that meeting with a number of persons (including members of the board, guests at the meeting, and one person who was neither a member of the board nor a guest at the meeting), and it seems to me the last of these is properly subject to discipline.

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You are correct, Suspension is what we should have done, the 3 people accused have challenged the Motion of Censure.

And at the same time one invoked the State Attorney General, so this in effect gets handed to our lawyers for the wait and see.

in the mean time all documentation, and proof is being compiled, while we get expert assistance in how to deal with this better.

Yes I have the book, we utilized the foot note at the bottom of the first page of chapter 20.

 

Thank you all Robert

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1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

You are correct, Suspension is what we should have done, the 3 people accused have challenged the Motion of Censure.

And at the same time one invoked the State Attorney General, so this in effect gets handed to our lawyers for the wait and see.

in the mean time all documentation, and proof is being compiled, while we get expert assistance in how to deal with this better.

Yes I have the book, we utilized the foot note at the bottom of the first page of chapter 20.

Yes, as the footnote correctly states, a motion of censure may be adopted without formal disciplinary procedures. Other penalties, however, may be adopted only through formal disciplinary procedures.

As a parliamentary matter, the suspension is null and void, and if the society wishes to discipline these members, it will have to start over and do it right this time. The procedures start on pg. 654 and the first step is to appoint an investigative committee.

Edited by Josh Martin
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1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

Yes I have the book, we utilized the foot note at the bottom of the first page of chapter 20.

The problem, as I think you understand now, is that a motion of censure carries absolutely no penalty but is merely a statement that "we disapprove of something you did". When the assembly went on to impose restrictions and suspensions, it was imposing punishment, something you cannot do with a motion of censure. The assembly went far beyond censure 

1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

You are correct, Suspension is what we should have done, the 3 people accused have challenged the Motion of Censure.

And at the same time one invoked the State Attorney General, so this in effect gets handed to our lawyers for the wait and see.

 that is why organizations should not even think about imposing any kind of punishment on a member without providing due process, which includes at a minimum notice and a hearing and the right to defend oneself. Reading and following the provisions in chapter XX of RONR is probably the best way to do that. Otherwise, an organization and its members may find themselves in court over what they did.

The failure almost 30 years ago of an organization that I was a member of to provide basic due process to a member before expelling him from membership, against my advice, is the very reason that I made the decision to become an expert in parliamentary procedure in general and in disciplinary matters in particular. The action of the club in expelling the member had financial repercussions to the member and wound up landing the organization on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

When it comes to d discipline, you had best dot the I's and cross the t's. 

Edited by Richard Brown
Typographical correction.
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1 hour ago, Robert Dingus said:

Richard, where can I get more information, or case studies about how to do this properly.

our Bylaws have nothing in the way of teeth, so we have to muddle along.

In Chapter XX of the 11th edition of RONR.  It is 26 pages of very detailed procedures regarding discipline.  If your bylaws contain different provisions, you follow your bylaws.  But, if your bylaws are silent, at least in certain pertinent areas, you should follow the procedures set out in chapter XX. That chapter walks you through a proper disciplinary process, step by step, in almost excruciating detail, and tells you what you can and cannot do.

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And I recommend that you hire a professional parliamentarian to guide you through the process. You've already involved legal counsel, so investing a bit more money to help ensure that you do things properly would be worthwhile. If you search around the forum (or Google), you will find the contact information for the American Institute of Parliamentarians or the National Association of Parliamentarians who both have a referral service.

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