Prosecutorial Misconduct in the Church!

What lessons should Prosecutor Rick Griffin learn from Prosecutor Scott Keesee’s overturned case against RE Dudt?

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice…” Exodus 23:1-2

The breaking news that RE Philip Dudt’s conviction by the Session has been overturned by an SJC Panel is sending shockwaves through Midway Presbyterian Church. The SJC Panel was unambivalent in their judgment where they ruled in summary:

“The decisions of the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church and Northwest Georgia Presbytery are reversed in whole. The SJC renders the decision that should have been rendered, to wit, not guilty. RE Dudt is relieved of his conviction and censure, and is restored to the full exercise of his office.”

Decision on Appeal SJC Case 2021-13

“Et tu, Mr. Prosecutor?”

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;” Psalm 15:2-

The charges against RE Dudt were false and executed prejudicially in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and his church. RE Scott Keesee who acted as the prosecutor in the case against RE Dudt may want to reflect on the seriousness of what this could mean for him. The principle of Deuteronomy 19 that a false charge’s consequence is reversible on the man who brought is reflected in the PCA’s Book of Church Order when it says in BCO 39-1 “Every voluntary prosecutor shall be previously warned, that if he fail to show probable cause of the charges, he may himself be censured as a slanderer of the brethren.” Ouch.

Morton Smith’s Commentary on the Book of Church says on this point “A warning is prescribed in the event of every voluntary prosecutor. He must show probable cause for the charges made against the accused, or he himself will become the subject to process by the Court as a slanderer.” Of this same chapter, Morton Smith also notes “Due to the seriousness of all ecclesiastical process, which is done in the name of the Church, and viewed as a sin against Christ, great caution is to be used before a Church court accepts charges against an individual.

Never mind that the Session’s policy of disciplining officers who disagree with the majority was excoriated by the SJC Panel when they ruled: “The so-called “Talley Resolution” clearly violates BCO PP II.7 and WCF 20-2. Such in thesi deliverances form no part of the Constitution of the Church and have no binding power. Yet the question of their authority and of their binding power typically at once become a subject of controversy and needlessly divide the Church. A Session cannot authoritatively establish the meaning of the BCO, it can only interpret it in light of its history and its sense as received by the Church. No officer can be subject to discipline for disagreeing with, or violating, such a resolution. Further, the Resolution is effectively a bill of attainder, i.e., an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of people, guilty of some crime, and punishing them, without a trial, and as such it is invalid. It is instructive to note that a bill of attainder is prohibited in the United States Constitution and that every state constitution also expressly forbids bills of attainder. The BCO clearly forbids such a procedure in, for example, 24-7 and Preliminary Principle 8.

Mr. Prosecutor: Quit while you’re behind…

RE Scott Keesee as Prosecutor in the case of against RE Dudt failed utterly to prove his case, which was based on a ex post facto Session Policy that the SJC Panel struck down as “invalid”. This same policy has been identified as a reason for division in the church. He is responsible for this, but further, since this same policy is being used to prosecute REs James Scott, Don Barnett, and Clay David at Midway, should Prosecutor Rick Griffin in that case slow down and take note that he is prosecuting a case on the basis of a resolution that the SJC Panel has assailed as having “no binding power”. Mr. Prosecutor, you may want to quit while you’re behind…