THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF
THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH
IN THE MATTER OF
THE PETITION OF JANIE SPEAKS
DECISION No. 2003-014
This case comes before the Council by a petition for declaratory judgment filed by Ms. Janie Speaks, a member in good standing in the A.M.E. Zion Church pursuant to Article II Jurisdiction, Paragraph 8 of the Rules of the Judicial Council in accordance with the Act passed by the 1988 Conference which reads:
ARTICLE II - THE JURISDICTION
B. the Judicial Council shall have not original jurisdiction, since decisions are declaratory and final in the interim of the General Conference.
ARTICLE III - DUTIES
2. To hear and make declaratory judgments when petition to do so when any law is subject to more than one interpretation on any paragraph in the Book of Discipline is of doubtful meaning. Any person in good and regular standing in The A.M.E. Zion Church can petition the Judicial Council for such a judgment. The Council's decision is final unless revised or reversed by the General Conference.
FACTS OF THE CASE
A charge of Negligent Administration against Joan Speaks, a Traveling Minister in the A.M. E. Zion Church, was read on November 14, 1996, at an executive session of the Blue Ridge Conference. A Trial Summons dated April 25, 1998, was received on May 4, 1998, (less than 10 days from the Trial date) by Rev. Speaks. Rev. Speaks prior to the date set for trial requested a continuance to meet with counsel and prepare for trial. She also requested clarification of the charge of Negligent Administration.
No testimony was presented to the Council. No hearing was requested as none is needed.
QUESTIONS TO BE DECIDED
1. Was due process afforded an Elder who was removed from her appointment as Presiding Elder, and Director of the Dorothy Walls camp?
2. Was an Elder entitled to specifications of charges that she was guilty of "Negligent Administration" after requesting for a clarification of the charges?
The questions presented involved several sections of The Discipline.
Paragraph 247 reads:
"Whenever it shall appear to the Bishop that the Presiding Elder is incompetent, either from want of administrative ability, knowledge of law, prejudice or piety to honor the office and bless the church he/she shall remove him and appoint another to fill his/her position.” (Emphasis added).
(Paragraph) 310 reads:
"In case of alleged maladministration a Traveling Minister may be charged with corrupt, negligent, or partisan administration, and the minister so offending shall be dealt with as in ¶306.” (Emphasis added)
Paragraph 306 details the procedure to be followed in the Trial of a Traveling Minister in Full Connection.
THEREFORE, it is the decision of the Council that:
1. It is within the discretion of the Presiding Bishop whether a Presiding Elder should be removed.
2. The position of Director of Camp Dorothy Walls is a secular position and the lawfulness of a termination from that position is determined by those laws of the State of North Carolina.
3. Rev. Joan Speaks, a Traveling Minister in the A.M.E. Zion Church, was entitled to specifications and clarification of charges when she was accused of "Negligent Administration." Due process requires that the accused be notified of the specific conduct of which she is accused.
4. The matter is remanded to the Blue Ridge Conference for further action consistent with this decision.
BY ORDER OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL, THIS 30th DAY OF JULY 2003.
TUCKER, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA FOR THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL
Star of Zion -- September 4-11, 2003
 Originally cited incorrectly as Article I.
 Originally cited incorrectly as Article VI.