UMC Trial Courts Have Options

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Guilty/Not Guilty A False Paradigm

Perhaps Guilty/Not Guilty is a false paradigm in these cases as well. Perhaps the first question of the jury instruction should be "Did [the Respondent] commit a chargeable offense pursuant to the Discipline?" and the second question should be "Did [the Respondent] abuse his/her pastoral discretion in violation of the Discipline?" Those two questions should be answered before ever reaching the second, restorative justice phase, in my opinion. The Discipline is a multivalent document subject to a lot of interpretation by pastors, especially in light of Decision 1032 (which gives pastors discretionary authority to deny membership, for example). So the preliminary question is whether a chargeable offense occurred. But the secondary question should be whether it abuses the pastoral discretion.

Paul Fleck more than 5 years ago

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