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Author Topic: Church leaders in legal proceedings  (Read 316 times)

Roper

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Church leaders in legal proceedings
« on: August 05, 2020, 07:59:15 pm »
This was in my email today:

Quote
First Presidency letter, 4 August 2020: Involvement in Legal Proceedings
We remind leaders and members of a long-standing policy that Church leaders should not involve themselves in civil or criminal cases regarding members in their units, quorums, or organizations without first consulting with Church legal counsel.
There was a link to download a pdf of the policy.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 

Sparky

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2020, 09:31:56 pm »
Interesting. I wonder why I didn't get the letter.
 

cook

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2020, 01:06:29 am »
What does mean involved?

If you find out about a crime/ see a crime, you need to report it, at least here. And then you are involved.
 

JLM

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2020, 09:17:56 am »
It means the official policy is to protect the church''s assets and reputation at all costs, even at the expense of the innocent.
 

cook

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2020, 09:59:43 am »
JLM, I hope not.

I can see that as a couple divorcing and fighting for custody the bishop shouldn't act as a character wittness etc.

But when the laws of the land require to report of child molestation etc, I'm sure they don't mean they shouldn't act.
 
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pnr

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2020, 04:39:27 pm »
I don't agree with JLM.  What it means is that every leader who is thinking about wading into legal things or who has been subpoenaed, needs to talk it over with someone who can help them understand the options, protect penitent privilege, determine if the leader can do what they think they need to and remain in the calling, make sure that personal and calling are being appropriately considered separately, and protect the flock. 

I think the most common times is when a ward member wants a bishop or some other leader to testify for them in child custody or child abuse cases.   But members have been known to subpoena/ask the directly ministering people, YM/Yw leaders or even when they have a grievance that a bishop's counsel or direction caused them personal harm, or maybe the activity burned down the barn.

Sometimes the church attorneys will act to quash subpoenas.    And the directive also makes it easier for the leader to say, "Sorry bro. somebody, I can't testify that your tithing payment regularly means you are a good guy who would not steal (or who must therefore be right in their claims against X)."
Nauvoo 1270, Feb 2005
 
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Enochscion

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2020, 07:34:14 pm »
The way I'm reading this, the whole point is that because leaders only have a small amount of training in this sort of thing, they are given a resource to contact people who are properly trained in it. (And not only that, they are required to use that resource.)

I was just on Facebook and saw people automatically interpreting this in a negative light, and it's just ridiculous.

This is to make sure that leaders don't do things that are harmful, inappropriate, or unethical. And if anyone thinks otherwise they maybe should spend some more time getting to know President Nelson.
 
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JLM

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2020, 03:01:04 pm »
I wish this policy were always implemented in a benevolent manner, but unfortunately that is not always the case.  I had an extended family member falsely accused of a white collar crime by a small town political rival who was a former bishop.  The SP knew the ex-bish was a load of crap and offered to testify if it went to trial about what he knew about the conspiracy against my family member.  The SP was specifically directed by the area authority to not offer testimony because it might paint the local church leadership in a negative light and “undermine people’s testimonies”.  Fortunately, my family member was able to show in the discovery evidence that he had scrupulously followed the law.  Once the DA saw that there was no crime all charges were dropped.  Nevertheless, to at least one prominent church leader thought is better for an innocent man to potentially go to jail than to risk a few fewer butts in the seats at church.
 

Enochscion

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2020, 06:43:01 pm »
Yeah, it happens. As long as we live in a world with people sinning, there will be no perfect solution. Leave something to the discretion of local leaders and then we can suffer for their mistakes. Have them contact a centralized source, and then we can suffer from their mistakes. No matter which option we go with as a Church, someone is going to claim it's the wrong one.

There is literally no way to prevent the results of bad choices (or even just mistakes) harming others in this life, even in a Church inspired by God. The best that can be done is for us to pray for the leaders to be inspired to make good decisions.
 

pnr

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2020, 08:59:16 am »
I wish this policy were always implemented in a benevolent manner, but unfortunately that is not always the case.

I'm so sorry.   


But decisions like this can be appealed up the ecclesiastical chain.  And the case you cite was resolved properly without the involvement of your leader after all.  And it is possible that had he actually gone to trial and the leader been subpoenaed, then the "no" might have been rescinded.   And there is that question of whether what the SP knew was obtained outside the confessional.   (And also the question of whether the type of help he could offer would have helped in reality anyway for the person accused, whether it was relevant, admissible?)  Lot unknown, which I realize doesn't make it emotionally easier.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2020, 09:01:21 am by pnr »
Nauvoo 1270, Feb 2005
 

Jason

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2020, 05:05:03 pm »
I think many attorneys wish their clients (plaintiffs and defendants alike) would simply stop talking. The law is tricky and we can easily make things worse. Very few lay people have a good enough understanding of the legal system in their own profession, let alone a religious system, to not somehow make things worse. Obtaining legal help in legal matters is important.

I had to testify in a malpractice lawsuit once (not against me). The legal counsel from my own malpractice insurance company was quite useful, as he represented my own interests. There were things I had never considered. They opened my eyes to how and why various questions might be asked.
 
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JLM

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Re: Church leaders in legal proceedings
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2020, 01:19:05 am »
My pov.  If the civil or criminal case directly relate to church policy, property or rights, the church council needs to be involved.  If the church is only tangentially involved because one or more party members happen to be lds, then the church should stay out of the way.  IOW, SLC should only be involved if the church leader is involved as a result of his or her status as an agent.
 

 


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