Establishment of the Judicial Council
ESTABLISHMENT OF A JUDICIAL COUNCIL
¶341. The General Conference directs that there shall be established a Judicial Council which shall serve as an appellate body subordinate only to the General Conference. The said Judicial Council shall be composed of a membership of lay persons and Ministers of the connection. No Bishop shall serve on said council.
The Judicial Council of this church shall be as follows:
¶342. Article I – NAME OF COUNCIL
The name of the council shall be the Judicial Council of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
¶343. Article II – JURISDICTION
a) The council shall have appellate function.
b) The council shall not have original jurisdiction, since the decisions are declaratory and final in the interim of the general conference.
c) The council is amenable to the general conference, and any decisions of the council may be reversed or modified by the general conference in regular or special session.
¶344. Article III – DUTIES
The duties of the Council shall be:
a) To study faithfully and earnestly the laws and rules governing The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
b) To hear and make declaratory judgments when petitioned to do so when any law is subject to more than one interpretation or any paragraph in the Book of Discipline is of doubtful meaning. Any person in good and/or regular standing in The A.M.E. Zion Church may petition the judicial council for such a judgment. The council’s decision is final, unless revised or reversed by the general conference.
c) To hear the appeal and determine any appeal from a Bishop’s decision on a question or ruling made in an annual conference on some positive law which affects some substantial right of the one (s) making the appeal.
d) The Judicial council shall not have the right to interfere, in any way, with the right of a bishop to appoint, assigned, transferred, or remove pastors as set forth in The Book of Discipline nor with the right of a bishop to administer the discipline of The A.M.E. Zion Church.
e) To hear and determine an appeal of Bishop when taken from the decision of a trial court.
f) To hear and determine an appeal from an elder when taken from the decision of a trial court.
¶345. Article IV – MEMBERSHIP
a) The Judicial Council shall be composed of nine (9) members and nine (9) alternates of whom five (5) shall be clergy and four (4) laypersons.
b) At least three (3) of the members shall be attorneys and/or judges and members in full connection in The A.M.E. Zion Church.
c) The members of the judicial council shall be elected by the general conference in the same manner as trustees of Livingstone College are elected. Each of the constituencies shall comprise a nominating committee i.e., bishops, lay, and the lay council. The nominating committee shall nominate fifteen (15) members and fifteen (15) alternates. The general conference shall elect nine (9). A majority vote is required for election. Nominations may be made from the floor of the general conference.
¶346. ARTICLE V - ELIGIBILITY
a) Any elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church who is at least 35 years of age, shall be considered for election to membership of the council.
b) Any lay person who is 35 years of age and who has been in full connection in The A.M.E. Zion Church eight (8) years shall be considered eligible for membership of the council.
c) Members shall be elected for a term of four years. They may be re-elected. The term limit is set at a maximum of eight (8) years.
d) Members of the council shall not be eligible for membership in the general conference nor the connectional council, thus they may not serve on any administrative boards or hold any other elected or appointed position in the general conference.
¶347. ARTICLE VI-SESSION
The sessions of the Judicial Council shall be as follows:
a) The council shall meet at least once annually. It shall meet at the time and place of the connectional council in the interim of the general conference, and it shall meet at the time and place of the general conference.
b) The council may meet more often if deems it necessary.
c) A single session of the council shall be no more than one week in duration, except during the general conference.
d) The council shall pass upon decisions of law made by the chief executive officer in annual conference or interpretation of existing law by the Board of Bishops.
e) Decisions affirmed by the council shall become the interpreted law of the denomination.
¶348. Article VII – VACANCIES
Vacancies on the Judicial Council shall be filled as follows:
a) Vacancies of the council during the interim of the general conference shall be by alternates in the order of their election by the general conference.
b) Vacancies may occur by death, resignation, voluntary withdrawal of membership from the denomination, expulsion, or an act of the general conference declaring a member disqualified and/or impeached.
c) Alternates shall be elected with regard to the mandated composition of the council with regard to lay, legal and clergy members.
¶349. Article VIII – PROCEDURES
The Judicial Council procedures of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church shall be as follows, to wit:
a) The council shall have final jurisdiction in all cases coming before it on appeal from a bishop's decision in a question of law interpreted and applied in an annual, district, or conference, when said appeal has been made by a member of that conference. Such appeals must be in writing.
b) To hear all parties to the action, if merit is established; the petitioner, affected members or body shall have the right to be heard through brief summaries, personally and legal representation.
c) To determine the feasibility of any action of the general conference upon the appeal of a majority of its members.
d) To hear and decide the appeal of bishop when taken from the decision of a trial court in which he/she is personally involved or interested.
e) To hear and determine the legality of any act of an annual conference or connectional council upon the appeal of a member thereof who petitions the council in writing.
f) A majority vote is required to render a decision of the council.
g) An appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days of the decision being appealed to the council. Said appeals shall be in writing, delivered by certified mail to the president of the council, shall clearly set forth the decision or action being appealed, shall set forth the paragraph in the discipline which contains the subject matter, shall be notarized and shall name the parties involved.
¶350. Article IX – ORGANIZATION
The organization of the Judicial Council of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church shall be as follows, to wit:
a) The council shall be a self-governing body.
b) A simple majority of the members shall constitute a quorum.
c) The officers of the council shall be a president, vice president, and a clerk.
¶351. Article X – PRACTICE
The practices of the Judicial Council of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church shall be as follows, to wit:
a) The council shall have a prepared docket. The docket shall consist of all matters which may be brought before the council for determination and shall be entered on separate documents numbered consecutively. At the time of adjournment, the council shall provide a record of the disposition of all items or business still pending upon its docket, delineating whether these matters shall be continued, and all matters duly disposed of shall be placed in the inactive files.
b) The records of hearings may reflect dissenting opinions.
c) Members of the council are prohibited from discussing matters before it in any forum other than its sessions.
d) Legal arguments before the council shall be restricted to the parties involved.
e) The rules by which the council shall operate shall be amended subject to the general conference.
¶352. Article XI – REMOVAL
The removal of members of the Judicial Council of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church shall be as follows, to wit:
a) Only the general conference shall have the power of impeachment, trial, and removal of a member of the council.
b) The failure of a member of the council to attend two (2) consecutive sessions without proper excuse shall be grounds for termination of membership on the council.
¶353. Article XII – AMENDMENT AND APPEAL
A simple majority of the general conference is necessary to bring before it an appeal from a decision of the Judicial Council. A two thirds majority vote of the general conference is required to reverse the decision of the council.
¶354. Article XIII – DISSOLUTION OF JUDICIAL COUNCIL
The Judicial Council may be dissolved by a three-fourths majority vote of the general conference. The bill shall be effective when adopted by the general conference, and can only be changed by the general conference in regular session or any special session called to consider the same.
All other rules and/or laws in conflict with this law are hereby repealed and are declared null and void.
The Book of Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (c) 2016.