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Motion to Censure a Board Member


Sandra L
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What is the proper procedure for bringing a Motion to Censure?  At the last board meeting I attended, I found I was the topic of this motion.  According to one other member, I was overheard saying something  to another person,  that this  member of our club didn't like.  I am in a 55 community and many wear hearing aids.  This person did not want to submit a written statement. and I in fact said" I certainly do not remember saying this"  Is it unreasonable to say, unless I am speaking to you, don't listen, move away, or ask me to take the conversation elsewhere?  I don't remember free speech stopping at the club door.  This incident apparently happened 2 weeks prior to the motion being brought.   

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8 minutes ago, Sandra L said:

What is the proper procedure for bringing a Motion to Censure?  At the last board meeting I attended, I found I was the topic of this motion.  According to one other member, I was overheard saying something  to another person,  that this  member of our club didn't like.  I am in a 55 community and many wear hearing aids.  This person did not want to submit a written statement. and I in fact said" I certainly do not remember saying this"  Is it unreasonable to say, unless I am speaking to you, don't listen, move away, or ask me to take the conversation elsewhere?  I don't remember free speech stopping at the club door.  This incident apparently happened 2 weeks prior to the motion being brought.   

The procedure to be followed for making a motion to censure someone is the same as it is for making any other main motion.

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22 minutes ago, Guest Sandra l said:

I would think that since you’re dealing with a persons rights there would be more to it. 

Just a note: a censure does not impact any rights. That is, it does not take away any rights of membership. It simply expresses disapproval. It doesn't have to have any basis.

If the assembly is proposing to take away rights as a result of the censure, then they need to follow the disciplinary process, either in the bylaws or in RONR.

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2 hours ago, Sandra L said:

What is the proper procedure for bringing a Motion to Censure?

Generally speaking, it may be made the same as any other main motion.

2 hours ago, Sandra L said:

At the last board meeting I attended, I found I was the topic of this motion.  According to one other member, I was overheard saying something  to another person,  that this  member of our club didn't like.  I am in a 55 community and many wear hearing aids.  This person did not want to submit a written statement. and I in fact said" I certainly do not remember saying this"  Is it unreasonable to say, unless I am speaking to you, don't listen, move away, or ask me to take the conversation elsewhere?  I don't remember free speech stopping at the club door. This incident apparently happened 2 weeks prior to the motion being brought.   

None of these facts change the previous response. As to the question asked here, that is not a question of parliamentary procedure.

1 hour ago, Guest Sandra l said:

I would think that since you’re dealing with a persons rights there would be more to it. 

The motion to censure doesn't deal with a person's rights. A motion to censure is simply a formal expression of disapproval. The person who is the subject of the censure retains the same rights before and after the censure.

To the extent that it is desired to suspend a member's rights, there would indeed be more to it. I would first check the organization's bylaws to see if they say anything on the subject. Otherwise, see RONR (12th ed.) Section 63.

Edited by Josh Martin
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6 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

Setting aside the issue of whether they accurately heard what you said, the right to free speech does not mean that you cannot be censured or reprimanded for what you said.

Guest Sandra, Dr. Kapur is right.  Your First Amendment right to free speech in the U.S. protects you from government action,not from private action from private individuals or organizations. People and organizations have an equal right to say "We don't approve of what you said"  (or even of what we were told that someone thinks you said).

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55 minutes ago, Guest Sandra l said:

There was no bad language or name calling, nothing like that. And since I couldn’t even remember the incident I couldn’t defend myself. 

 

Sure you could, and did. By saying you didn't remember saying anything like that. And you also could have said that it wasn't something you would have been likely to say, if in fact it wasn't. Further, if there is a motion to censure, you can defend yourself the same way there. Whether that will be sufficient to avoid censure is for the assembly to decide.

Depending on what was said about you, and to whom, you might have non-parliamentary remedies. But those are far beyond the scope of this forum. 

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1 hour ago, Guest Sandra l said:

There was no bad language or name calling, nothing like that. And since I couldn’t even remember the incident I couldn’t defend myself. 

 

in theory, you could be censured for "poor taste in clothing," because the board doesn't like the outfit you wore to the meeting.   It is the expression of a negative opinion, collectively of the board, and nothing more, from a procedural standpoint. It impinges on no right of yours as a member.  While  you should not vote on the motion, if you are a member of the board, you cannot be compelled to abstain. 

As noted, a defense, made in debate against the motion, could be that you do not recall the remark and/or that this would not the type of thing that you would say.  

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5 hours ago, Guest Sandra l said:

I guess my real issue is being censured over what someone heard, or thought they heard me saying to someone else. So my “ right” to speak freely is  impacted. 
 

Apart from knowing that this censure motion was on the agenda, we don't know the outcome.  Were you in fact censured on the basis of such flimsy evidence?

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15 hours ago, Guest Sandra l said:

I guess my real issue is being censured over what someone heard, or thought they heard me saying to someone else. So my “ right” to speak freely is  impacted. 

This is getting beyond the scope of RONR and this forum, but an assembly censuring a person for their speech does not, in fact, limit that person's right to free speech. It is simply the assembly expressing its own free speech by expressing its views regarding what was said. In addition, even to the extent that the assembly actually took action to regulate the speech of its members, or take disciplinary action against members regarding their speech, that is also permissible because the concept of "free speech" as it relates to (for example) First Amendment rights relates to limitations placed upon free speech by the government, not by a private society.

Bringing it back to RONR, no rule in RONR prohibits an assembly from censuring a member "over what someone heard, or thought they heard [the member] saying to someone else." Whether or not the assembly should censure a member on this basis is up to the society's judgment.

13 hours ago, Guest Sandra l said:

There was no bad language or name calling, nothing like that. And since I couldn’t even remember the incident I couldn’t defend myself. 

These facts have no relevance to the procedure for a motion to censure. Such facts may well be relevant to the merits of the motion to censure, but that is once again a judgment for the assembly to make.

Based upon the facts presented, it appears that the procedure which was followed violates no rule in RONR. I express no view on the question of whether the motion to censure should (or should not) have been adopted.

Edited by Josh Martin
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Reply to Gary 

Yes I was censured, the “complainant” wasn’t willing to write a statement so I really have no idea of what the evidence was, no when, where. My background has been in legal, so I believe that there should  be some evidence to back up what was said, or it’s all hearsay. There’s many things I over hear that I don’t like or agree with,  but unless the conversation is directed to me, I don’t report it. 

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1 minute ago, Guest Sandra l said:

My background has been in legal, so I believe that there should  be some evidence to back up what was said, or it’s all hearsay.

Hearsay evidence is permissible under the disciplinary procedures in RONR. The standards of what evidence is required, even under formal disciplinary procedures, is solely at the assembly's discretion. These procedures are not the same as legal proceedings.

Any burden of evidence is even lower for a motion to censure. It is at the assembly's discretion whether to adopt the motion to censure.

 

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