SJC Panel: Northwest Georgia Presbytery Permitted Midway Session to Add Evidence After the Trial

Why would the Session, after winning the case, want to add evidence to the record during the appeal that it did not introduce during the trial?

Here is a straight-forward answer: because it realized it did not prove its case during the trial even though it convicted RE Dudt of the charges leveled against him. So it appears the Session attempted to reinforce its verdict by manufacturing so-called witness testimony after the trial was over.

The BCO does not permit this. No court worth its weight in justice would permit this. The BCO allows the accused to request a new trial if new evidence arises which could exonerate him. It says:

BCO 35-13: If after trial before any court new testimony be discovered, which the accused believes important, it shall be his right to ask a new trial and it shall be within the power of the court to grant his request.

The BCO also permits the appeals court to examine new evidence if both parties agree:

35-14: If, in the prosecution of an appeal, new evidence be offered which, in the judgment of the appellate court, has an important bearing on the case, it shall be competent for that court to refer the case to the lower court for a new trial; or, with the consent of parties, to admit the evidence and proceed with the case.


The Northwest Georgia Presbytery, however, permitted the Session to add this extra testimony. It was blind to this clear error. Is it any surprise that the Northwest Georgia Presbytery sided with the Midway Session in the face of such an obvious violation identified by RE Dudt?

Fortunately, the SJC Panel saw through this clear violation of due process. The SJC Panel Decision reports:

1st specification of Presbytery error, Appellant alleges that Presbytery erred in violation of BCO 42-5 when it allowed testimony taken after the trial (see ROC 51-8) to be included in the ROC.

This specification of error is sustained.

A Minute Explanatory. The Session does not dispute that such testimony was so added, but argues that this inclusion is permissible under BCO 42-5 (“any papers bearing on the case”) (ROC 559). But testimony taken after the trial is not a “paper bearing on the case” (BCO 42-5; cf. BCO 35-13,14) and, as such, should not have been added to the ROC.


The 40-5 report against NWGP actions made clear its concern that the Northwest Georgia Presbytery had been captured and was being used to mute the congregational voice. The 40-5 report stated:

The preceding circumstances and the Presbytery’s role in them have enabled and fostered a culture of apparent constitutional violations by the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church. We are concerned that its most influential operators may have converted the Northwest Georgia Presbytery into a convenient mechanism for unjustly muting the congregational voice. If true, the Presbytery has abdicated its duty under BCO 13-9 to exercise proper church authority under our constitution.

This report made the influential operators angry, so in response they ensured three of the elders who signed the report were charged and suspended.

The SJC Panel has shown that the NWGP is blind to even the most obvious constitutional violations committed by the Midway Session.