Here are some of the rules which apply to the Judiciary Board with regards to the Authority and the number of justices required to proceed with the work of the court. These are excerpts from the documents “The Apologetic for the Judiciary Board” and Judiciary Board Article VIII (Passed by the General Assembly and both as an addendum to the Charter/Constitution of COGIC).
(Click here to read and print the complete document passed November 15, 1994; APOLOGETIC FOR THE JUDICIARY BOARD)
Click here to read and print the complete document passed April 11, 1991; JUDICIARY BOARD ARTICLE VIII .
PREAMBLE JUDICIAL CODE OF CONDUCT
The ecclesiastical legal system of the Church of God in Christ is largely self-governing. Although other professions and religious and charitable organizations also have been granted powers of self-government, the ecclesiastical legal officers of the Church of God in Christ is somewhat unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary Branches of Church government and the processes of government in each branch and the enforcement of ecclesiastical law. The connection between the three branches of ecclesiastical government is manifested in the fact that the Judiciary Board balances the legislative and executive branches by being that ultimate authority on questions of constitutionality and the final appellate forum of the Church for disputes.
Self-Government of Judiciary Board
To the extent that all justices meet the obligations of their elected office, the occasion for additional legislative regulation by the General Assembly is (made unnecessary) obviated. Self- regulation also helps maintain the Judiciary Board’s independence from the domination of other branches of ecclesiastical government An independent Judiciary Board is an important force in preserving the church’s rules, regulations, constitutional provisions, doctrinal interpretations, traditions, mores, morals, and spirit, under ecclesiastical law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a legal system whose members are not dependent on other branches of ecclesiastical government for the right to assure aggrieved members of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. that fairness will prevail throughout the brotherhood, and that equal protection and due process are and will continue to be the right of every church member.
The Judiciary Board’s relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. Each justice has a responsibility to assure that its judicative regulations are conceived in the interest of all Church of God in Christ members and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of any one branch of church government. Every judiciary board member is responsible for observance of the Rules and Ethics of the Judiciary Board. A justice should also aid in securing their observance by other ecclesiastical legal officers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the Judiciary Board and the Church’s interest which it serves.
(Preamble: Judicial Code of Conduct pg. 2)
The part below is an excerpt from the document Judiciary Board Article VIII, passed by the General Assembly as an addendum to the Constitution.
ARTICLE VIII – JUDICIARY BOARD
There shall be established a Judiciary Board for the Church of God in Christ, Incorporated. The Judiciary Board shall be both an ecclesiastical and appellate court.
COMPOSITION and CRITERIA
The Judiciary Board shall be composed of nine (9) members designated in three (3) categories: episcopal, ministerial, and general. Three (3) members shall be jurisdictional bishops (episcopal), three (3) members shall be elders other than bishops (ministerial), and three (3) members shall be from the church at large (general). Each member shall be at least forty-five years of age and an active member of the Church of God in Christ for not less than twenty (20) successive years, a person of mature judgment, proven ability, integrity and knowledgeable in Church of God in Christ constitutional matters.
There is a list of fourteen (14) items in the Article VIII addendum under the heading “Duties of the Judiciary Board”. Here are five of them. (The complete list can be found on pages 8-10 of the document in the above link).
DUTIES OF THE JUDICIARY BOARD
1 The Judiciary Board shall determine the constitutionality of any act of the General Assembly upon the appeal of the majority of that Assembly.
2. The Judiciary Board shall determine the constitutionality of any act of the General Board upon the appeal of the majority of that Board.
3. The Judiciary Board shall determine the constitutionality of any act of a jurisdictional assembly or a jurisdictional bishop upon the appeal of the majority of the pastors of the jurisdiction.
4. The Judiciary Board shall decide any election dispute referred to it by the General Assembly.
5. The Judiciary Board shall be the final appeal court for all matters arising under the church discipline.
(Click here to read the complete list of duties)
The Number of Justices required to conduct the business of the court
Here is the part of the document which references the number of justices required to conduct the business of the court. ( This is part of the addendum to the constitution passed by the General Assembly which can be accessed from the above link)
This is paragraph four (4) under the heading TERM OF OFFICE.
4. In the event a vacancy in the Judiciary Board occurs while the General Assembly is not in session, the remaining members shall continue to meet and conduct business until the next regular meeting of the General Assembly.
Seven (7) members shall constitute a quorum. An affirmative vote of all members of the Board shall be necessary to declare any act of the General Assembly unconstitutional. On other matters, a majority vote of the Board will be sufficient.
There was not a question or issue of an “Act of the General Assembly” (which can only be brought before the court by a majority of the members). The ruling of the Judiciary Board falls into the “other matters” category discussed in the last sentence of the paragraph. The courts order was very narrow and dealt only with the question concerning Bishop Clemmons. All other discussions are what is known as “Dicta”. (Plural for dictum)
Dicta– A judicial opinion on a point other than the precise issue involved in delivering a case
(Merriam-Webster 10th Edition)
Can lay person,s assist in legal preceding.
Yes as long as they are a member in good standing of COGIC.
Members may be advised by non members such as legal counsel
That is correct. A member can have anyone, regardless of their affiliation advise him/her in any COGIC disciplinary action.
To what extent can a lay person assist? If the pastor is brought on charges before this board, shouldn’t only the Pastor answer in legal matters of the church?
Article VIII, Section B allows the Pastor to have counsel, if a lay person knows the process they can help. Also, some lay members are attorneys. If the Pastors has an attorney who is not a member of COGIC, that person can only assist. Any COGIC member in good standing can act as counsel however the correct procedures must be followed
How often do members on this board show favoritism to a Pastor or Bishop as opposed to following the COGIC Constitution? Or has this ever happened?
I’ve just been studying the Constitution and just a bit inquisitive not referring to any particular case.
It is unethical for the Judiciary to show favoritism to anyone. Otherwise the board cannot truly address matters of the Executive and Legislative branches of our Church.
I agree, however as you know whenever one does not capitulate, the dreaded label of “fighting leadership” is thrown out like a ships anchor.
According to the following statement extracted from the Judiciary Board page: Three members are Jurisdictional Bishops (Episcopal); three members are elders other than bishops (Ministerial); and three members are from the church at large (General Assembly). Now that Talbert Swan has been elevated to the office of Bishop does his continued serving on the Board violate the stipulated criteria. As you well know, there are now five Bishops on the Board (Perry, Clemons, Johnson, Swan, and Connor). This could give the perception that Bishops will have an unfair advantage when adjudicating cases involving Bishops.
There are two people in the of God in Christ with that name. The Associate Justice is Elder Talbert Swan, the Assistant General Secretary and Bishop is Talbert Swan II. I believe Justice Swan is the uncle of Bishop Swan, I am not entirely sure about that though. But that point was brought up concerning Justice Clemmons. That was when Chairman Hunt declared the Judiciary Board’s order null and void (a violation).
That still leaves four Bishops on the Board which is one more than stipulated. How can those appealing before a Board that is stacked with Bishops be assured of a fair and impartial trial especially when their case involves a Bishop. There is a code of silence among Bishops similar to that among police. Usually when there are questions regarding behavior it is generally swept under the rug.
You are correct. Chairman Hunt and the General Board came to Justice Clemmons aide and basically held the General Assembly hostage for almost 2 years over this very subject. Until the members of the General Assembly say enough of this, and hold the leaders accountable, this type of thing will go on.
where and when do you all meet?
is it an open meeting?
Which you all are you referring to?