The BCO prescribes a simple procedure that was not followed…
BCO 42-8 says the court or commission hearing the appeal should discuss the merits of the case, then vote “on each specification in this form: Shall this specification of error be sustained?”
It then says that “If the court or commission deem it wise, it may adopt a minute explanatory of its action, which shall become a part of its Record of the Case.”
RE Dudt submitted 40 specifications of error with his appeal. This means the NWGP should have responded to each one.
It did not.
THE NWGP’S FAILURE IDENTIFIED
Despite the NWGP’s insistence that it did nothing wrong, the SJC Panel disagreed. The SJC Panel decision says:
A 5th specification of Presbytery error, Appellant alleges that Presbytery erred in violation BCO 42-8 when it failed to answer each specification of error alleged in Appellant’s appeal.
This specification of error is sustained.
A Minute Explanatory. Presbytery declined to address the Appellant’s specifications “in an ad seriatim fashion” and adopted “a summative approach,” “rul[ing] against all 40 grounds, with only some given a response” (ROC 707n.5). But BCO 42-8 requires the higher court “to vote on each specification in this form: Shall this specification of error be sustained?”
The SJC Panel even added the “minute explanatories” for the record.
If there is no record that the presbytery judicial commission voted on each specification, then how can anyone ever be sure that they actually read and studied RE Dudt’s specifications of error?
If they don’t read or study each point, then how can they possibly do justice to his case? Handling matters of justice is no time to cut corners. This is one of the highest responsibilities an elder has. And yet, the NWGP judicial commission thought it was okay to cut some corners.
This unsatisfactory performance does not instill confidence in any church member who is supposed to trust the presbytery to get a fair and equitable hearing.
Did the NWGP judicial commission think its task too difficult?
The SJC Panel led by example. It responded to each specification of error and provided a short reason for each. It did not cut corners.