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Reasons for Ruling

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When RONR says that the minutes should include the reasons for the chair’s ruling on all points of order ([10th ed.], p. 245, l. 16-17; p. 453, l. 19-20), does that requirement apply even to minor infractions and to cases so unambiguous that an appeal would be dilatory (p. 248, l. 28-30)?

If the chair gives no reason for a ruling, and/or declines a request to give a reason, should the minutes include such facts?

If the chair not only gives his reasons at the time of ruling but also elaborates on those reasons during debate on an appeal, which reasons go in the minutes?

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1) If he actually gave a reason, yes. All means all. But it's unlikely he'd state a reason for ruling on a point of order when the member's time has expired, or some other simple one.

2) No

3) Whatever makes sense so that the reader of the minutes knows why he ruled that way, without writing a dissertation.

I'm just a fan of common sense regarding these rules, Patrick.

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Okay, if the chair refuses to give a reason for ruling something out of order, why should the minutes not reflect that fact? May we blithely assume that if no reason was listed in the minutes, that the chair refused to give any? That would be a stretch, I think.

I suggest that the rule that says the chair should give a reason, and the rule that says that reason should be recorded, would combine to require that if the chair does not state a reason (with or without a request), that omission should be noted in the bylaws.

Stating that a member's time had expired is not a "ruling" per se, and would not be recorded at all. When the chair says "The time of the member has expired," he is neither making nor ruling on a point of order.

But if the chair got it wrong, and stated that a member's time had expired when in fact it had not, or if he allowed a member to speak beyond the allotted time, and another member raised a point of order, "that the member's time has expired," then the chair would have to rule on that. He would, presumably, check the clock and say, "The point is well taken; the member has exceeded the allotted time."

In doing so, he has ruled on the point of order and given a reason for his ruling: the factual matter that the time has expired. Both should be recorded. But, in this case, if the chair had left off the reason, and simply ruled the point well-taken, the reason would be clear to anyone reading the minutes. The reason was stated in the Point of Order (as it often is). Reason (if not a reason) should prevail.

But in ruling a motion out of order, there are dozens of possible reasons why this might be the case and the chair cannot simply say "that's out of order" without saying why--especially if a member asks. It is the chair's duty.

If it is true that no mention should be made, then I would advise making sure it appears in the minutes by immediately raising another point of order "That the chair has refused to state, as required by the rules, the reasons for his ruling that...." At least the fact (or at least the claim) that he had refused, would be recorded.

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When RONR says that the minutes should include the reasons for the chair’s ruling on all points of order ([10th ed.], p. 245, l. 16-17; p. 453, l. 19-20), does that requirement apply even to minor infractions and to cases so unambiguous that an appeal would be dilatory (p. 248, l. 28-30)?

If the chair gives no reason for a ruling, and/or declines a request to give a reason, should the minutes include such facts?

If the chair not only gives his reasons at the time of ruling but also elaborates on those reasons during debate on an appeal, which reasons go in the minutes?

The rule in RONR (10th ed.), p. 245, ll. 15-17, seems clear enough. Why make it any harder than it actually is?

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Thanks for the guidance. Part of my concern is practical: as the secretary for an organization, I want my draft of the minutes to go by the book as much as possible, especially in the only cases in which the minutes are supposed to include things said, i.e., reasons for rulings on points of order.

Although p. 245, l. 15-17 clearly states that the minutes include the brief reasons stated by the chair at the time of his ruling, p. 453, l. 18-20 appears less restrictive, mentioning appeals also in the context of reasons for ruling.

The difference seems to me significant, given how much opportunity the chair has to elaborate on his reasons during an appeal, including the occasion to “give additional reasons” (p. 250, l. 2) during debate and the chance, even in the case of an undebatable appeal, to “give the reasons for his decision” (p. 250, l. 6-7)—presumably reasons more detailed than the brief ones he gave immediately prior to the appeal.

Another reason it’s important to have the right reasons on record is that appeals set a precedent for a society’s interpretation of its own rules. In the interest both of clarity and of fairness to the chair (especially if his ruling is overturned), it seems prudent to err on the side of inclusiveness regarding the chair’s reasoning.

A final reason for including more rather less of the chair’s reasoning is that, when it comes time to approve the minutes, it will be easier for the assembly to strike out material it considers extraneous than to reconstruct missing details of the chair’s original reasoning.

Although I usually cringe at the thought of minutes containing needless words, in this particular case, thoroughness seems justified.

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