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'Involvement in Legal Proceedings' Letter, 1st Pres.


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I got this email with a link to this letter about, "Involvement in legal proceedings" with a brief summary as follows

"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."

  • This seems like a specific case they are referring to but what is the issue with leaders and members in cases, having to consult the Church Legal dept. What is this all about? Why would I need to consult the church if I wanted to sue someone I know in my quorum? am I missing something?
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Read it again Duncan. It is specifically to Church Leaders, that THEY should get legal advice from the church before THEY stick their nose into a dispute between members. 

" but the bishop said I was right" has the potential of involving the Church , No? 

Edited by strappinglad
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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

Read it again Duncan. It is specifically to Church Leaders, that THEY should get legal advice from the church before THEY stick their nose into a dispute between members. 

" but the bishop said I was right" has the potential of involving the Church , No? 

basically they would prefer a bishop or someone not to get involved in legal disputes between members of his ward? 

Edited by Duncan
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It comes across to me as attempting to ensure leaders don’t give out legal advice themselves and possibly other non spiritual advice that should be the domain of professionals as well as ensuring they don’t go about the legal side of things the wrong way. There is nothing in that comment that suggests they intend stopping leaders from being involved after consulting with the Legal Dept.

Imo, it is a good idea to always consult a lawyer before stepping into a legal or criminal issue, not to stop oneself, but to be educated about one’s choices and consequences of actions. 
 

I see it as the same as consulting a doctor and pharmacist before making significant changes in pursuit of health.  I do a lot of research of technical stuff myself, but still have made some mistakes that really screwed me up. Doctors made mistakes too, but I figure between the two approaches I eliminated a lot. 
 

Or even consulting a house painter before doing it yourself...using the right tools and tricks can save both money and effort. 
 

Research before anything major is wise. 

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, Duncan said:

basically they would prefer a bishop or someone not to get involved in legal disputes between members of his ward? 

That's how I'm reading it.  Especially in regards to testifying for one side against another.

Edited by bluebell
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This has been in the handbook for many years.   It is because when a bishop gets involved in litigation, either party might then claim that whatever was done was as bishop, which could drag the church into the case.   Further, if bishop gets a subpoena, they need a briefing about how to preserve the confidence of the confessional.   And finally, the church wants to be able to have the opportunity to quash subpoenas if that is appropriate, or send counsel with bishops to depositions (if a bishop is testifying as bishop).  

It is the same advice that employers give their employees, or attorneys give their clients.   Nothing nefarious or underhanded about it.   Of course bishops need someone to help them sort out any legal issue that involves their stewardship.

(A common scenario is when a parent in a custody case wants a church leader or home teacher to testify as a character witness or about what someone did or said in front of the bishop.)

The Church might also want to consider whether the issues are such that the bishop  needs to be released.

Edited by rpn
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4 hours ago, Duncan said:

I got this email with a link to this letter about, "Involvement in legal proceedings" with a brief summary as follows

"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."

  • This seems like a specific case they are referring to but what is the issue with leaders and members in cases, having to consult the Church Legal dept. What is this all about? Why would I need to consult the church if I wanted to sue someone I know in my quorum? am I missing something?

I'm not sure, but I'm thinking the directive is applicable to a situation where, if, say, you were the President of your Elders Quorum, and Brother Jones from your quorum comes to you and says, "President Duncan, I'm suing Brother Smith"--also from your quorum--"and I need you to be a witness ..."  Your involvement could implicate the Church of Jesus Christ, and/or one of the parties might try to hold the Church liable for something that you do or for something that you failed to do.

Edited by Kenngo1969
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4 hours ago, Duncan said:

basically they would prefer a bishop or someone not to get involved in legal disputes between members of his ward? 

 

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

That's how I'm reading it.  Especially in regards to testifying for one side against another.

Yes, and I think that same principle would apply to other leaders, as well (Elders Quorum Presidents, Relief Society Presidents, Deacons Quorum Presidents, Teachers Quorum Presidents ... ;):D)

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5 hours ago, strappinglad said:

Read it again Duncan. It is specifically to Church Leaders, that THEY should get legal advice from the church before THEY stick their nose into a dispute between members. 

" but the bishop said I was right" has the potential of involving the Church , No? 

More than likely it refers directly to leaders suing or being sued by someone, not merely to being a character witness or giving advice.  This would also include leaders (especially members of a bishopric or stake presidency) being involved in a criminal case.  LDS Church legal needs to know before it becomes a problem.

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As some of you might remember from past posts, this happened to us.

On the one hand, members who voluntarily seek mediating counsel from their bishop might really benefit from it. We did, and we were grateful for the help. On the other hand, there is a line that should be respected: church leaders should never pressure members one way or the other regarding their actions in civil and criminal proceedings.

From a spiritual point of view, members often invest a great deal of trust in the counsel of their bishop and other priesthood authorities. Going to court or being called to court is at minimum a stressful situation and sometimes it is frightening and precipitated by traumatic events.

In my experience, church members are much less inclined to pursue legal action than the norm. They generally prefer to work out conflicts amicably. And so, like in our case, pursuing help from the courts is, for many, going to be a choice made only after significant reflection and the spiritual conviction to do so.

And so if after such an arduous and painful process, a church leader steps in and tries to compel some action one way or another, it can be extremely hurtful. It can destroy trust.

I am grateful that the church has this policy. I wish that, in our case, the policy was followed.

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7 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

... I am grateful that the church has this policy. I wish that, in our case, the policy was followed.

I'm sorry for what you went through.  So often, regrettably, it is those who think they are the exceptions who prove the necessity for the rule (and to be absolutely clear, I'm talking about those who attempted to counsel you, not about you, OK?)  I wish you well. :)

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23 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

I'm sorry for what you went through.  So often, regrettably, it is those who think they are the exceptions who prove the necessity for the rule (and to be absolutely clear, I'm talking about those who attempted to counsel you, not about you, OK?)  I wish you well. :)

Thank you, Kenngo. :)

To their credit, the bishop and stake president later apologized for overstepping.

Edited by Meadowchik
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3 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

Not only does it drag the church in, but more importantly, it alienates at least one party from the leader and potentially then from the church. 

And inasmuch as it interferes with the legal process, it can compromise safety and well-being.

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3 hours ago, MustardSeed said:

Not only does it drag the church in, but more importantly, it alienates at least one party from the leader and potentially then from the church. 

 

2 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

And inasmuch as it interferes with the legal process, it can compromise safety and well-being.

Both good reasons for the policy.

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