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REGULATION 6: Of the Diocesan Court for the Trial of Priests and Deacons, and of Judicial Proceedings
1. In this Regulation, the expression:
“The accused” means the priest or deacon against whom a charge has been preferred;
“The Bishop” includes the Vicar-General;
“The Diocesan Court” means an Ecclesiastical Court summoned by the Bishop under this Regulation;
“The President” means the person who shall preside in the Diocesan Court;
“The Prosecutor” means the person appointed by the Bishop to present and prosecute any charge before the Diocesan Court.
2. A clergyman shall be liable to prosecution and trial in the Diocesan Court for the following:
(a) indictable offences and also adultery, fornication and sodomy;
(b) holding and teaching publicly and advisedly any heresy or false doctrine;
(c) violating the Constitution and Canons or Regulations of his Ordination, Licensing, Institution, Collation, Enthronement or other similar occasion;
(d) violating the Constitution and Canons of the Province;
(e) violating the Constitution and Canons or Regulations of the Diocese in which he holds office;
(f) habitual neglect of the duties of his office;
(g) conduct unbecoming a clergyman, provided that in case of a charge of this nature the majority of a tribunal composed of five (5) Priests of not less than ten (10) years’ standing in Priests’ Orders shall decide that there is good cause for the conduct complained of to be classed as “conduct unbecoming a clergyman”;
(h) breach of Ecclesiastical Order.
3. No original proceedings shall be deemed validly instituted before the Diocesan Court if the offence be not charged to have been committed within two (2) years of the commencement of the proceedings (except leave be given for a further extension of time by the Archbishop under his hand and seal), unless the proceedings be grounded upon a sentence of a civil or criminal court in which case such limitation shall not apply; provided that such proceedings be commenced within six (6) calendar months of such sentence having been pronounced.
4. All charges against a clergyman shall be made in writing in the form of an affidavit sworn before a Notary Public, a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner of Oaths and signed by the presenter or presenters and shall specify all the particulars of the offence or offences alleged by them as to time, place and other circumstances.
5. Any accusation of heresy or false doctrine, in order to be relevant, must aver that the accused has taught, published or otherwise promulgated some doctrine or opinion repugnant to, or at variance with the doctrine of the Church as contained and commanded in Holy Scripture and as set forth by the standards of faith and doctrine of the Anglican Church and contained in the Creeds and Books of Common Prayer. It must specify the particular matter in those standards which the accusation involves as well as the particular statements of the accused so repugnant thereto or at variance therewith, which may be the subject of the charge.
6. Whenever —
(a) a charge is preferred against a clergyman in respect of any of the foregoing offences under Paragraph 2, it shall be presented to the Bishop signed by a Church Warden in the parish where the clergyman officiates or by at least three (3) communicants of not less than thirty years of age; or
(b) the Bishop is of the opinion that scandal exists in connection with any clergyman; or that a charge should be presented against any clergyman in respect of the foregoing offences under Paragraph 2; or
(c) a clergyman requests that enquiry should be made into any report injurious to himself.
7. The Bishop may, if he thinks fit, appoint a commission (hereinafter in this Regulation called “the Commission”) to enquire into and report on the matter, or he may direct the clergyman to go before the Diocesan Court for trial.
8. (a) The Bishop shall furnish the clergyman with a copy of the charge or, if there be no charge, with a written statement of the reason for appointing the commission or the holding of the Court.
(b) In the case of the appointment of a Commission, the clergyman shall be entitled to receive a list of the names of the members thereof and he shall receive at least thirty (30) days’ notice of the time when and place where the Commission or Diocesan Court will sit.
9. (a) Whenever a Diocesan Court shall sit for the trial of any clergyman, the Bishop shall be the President of the Court; and the Chancellor or any other barrister of not less than six (6) years standing and being a communicant shall assist as legal assessor.
(b) The Bishop may appoint other assessors, lay or clerical.
10. (a) In any trial of a clergyman the President shall be assisted in the hearing and determination of the case, if the charge be one of heresy or false doctrine, by three (3) clergymen being priests of the Diocese of not less than seven (7) years in Priest’s Orders.
(b) In the case of any charge other than that of heresy or false doctrine, the President shall be assisted by not less than two (2) clergymen of the aforesaid standing.
11. (a) The Bishop may appoint any fit and proper person to present and prosecute the charge or, if the accused does not so appear, the Commission, and the clergyman may appear by himself and/or by Counsel or Solicitor.
(b) If the accused does not so appear, the Diocesan Court or the Commission may hear and determine the matter or hold the enquiry as the case may be notwithstanding his absence.
12. The proceedings of the Diocesan Court shall be in private.
13. The Chancellor may prescribe rules for the presentment of any charge or charges arising out of any of the matters referred to in Paragraph 2 and for regulating the conduct at hearings before a Commission or a Court of any matter for which no rules are prescribed by these Regulations: Provided that such rules shall not come into operation until approved in writing by the Bishop.
14. (a) The finding of the Diocesan Court or of a majority of members thereof shall be in writing and be signed by the President; and, if it be not of acquittal, the Bishop after consultation with the members of the Diocesan Court shall determine what effect shall be given to it.
(b) Any member of the Diocesan Court may put in writing his reasons for not agreeing with the finding of the majority, and those reasons shall be laid before the Bishop.
(c) If the Court be equally divided the President shall have a casting besides a deliberate vote.
15. (a) When the finding of the Diocesan Court is not of acquittal, the sentence of the Bishop may be formal admonition or suspension for a period or deprivation of preferment.
(b) Suspension shall be accompanied by the total or partial loss of salary as the Diocesan Court may determine.
(c) The finding of the Diocesan Court and the sentence of the Bishop, when there is not an acquittal, shall be read at a sitting of the Court; and a copy of the sentence shall, in all cases where practicable, be as soon as possible communicated in writing by the Bishop to the clergyman concerned.
(d) The report of the Commission, (a copy of which shall be furnished to the clergyman), the proceedings before the Diocesan Court and the sentence of the Bishop shall be lodged in the Registry of the Diocese.
16. (a) An appeal, if notified to the Bishop within seven (7) days after the sentence is pronounced, shall lie to the Provincial Court of Appeal whose decision shall be final.
(b) Upon receipt by the Bishop of notice of an appeal, the execution of the sentence shall be stayed pending the hearing of the appeal.
17. (a) Any clergyman against whom judgment has been given who shall refuse to obey the sentence of the Diocesan Court, shall, if not sentenced to suspension or deprivation, be suspended: and if sentenced to suspension or deprivation, be liable to ex-communication.
(b) It shall be the duty of the Bishop, after notice given, to pronounce such sentence.
18. The Council may authorise the payment of the whole or any part of the expenses of any proceedings instituted under this Regulation from funds at the disposal of the Synod.
19. The Bishop may at any time suspend a clergyman from his functions pending any proceedings instituted under this Regulation and may during the term of such suspension withhold the whole or part of the clergyman’s emoluments.
20. (a) If at any stage in the course of any judicial proceedings the accused shall in writing make an admission of guilt and offer to submit to any sentence which may be pronounced against him, the Bishop shall have the power to dispose of the case in such a manner as may seem good to him on the basis of the admission.
(b) The sentence pronounced under such circumstances shall not exceed such sentence as may have been imposed by the Bishop after trial had the accusation been proved in a Court to the extent of the admission.
21. In all cases where grave charges have been brought against a clergyman, if he shall tender his resignation to the Bishop before any enquiry shall have been made into such charges, and if the Bishop presiding in a Court shall see fit to accept the resignation in the exercise of his discretion, the clergyman shall not thereby be exempt from judicial inquiry into the truth of the charges, provided proceedings are instituted within a period not exceeding six (6) months from the date of resignation.
22. Whenever a sentence has been passed by the Diocesan Court, it shall be competent for the Bishop within thirty (30) days after the sentence is passed to direct that the sentence be reviewed or the case be reheard if it shall appear to him that there are urgent reasons for believing that the sentence was founded on some error either as to facts of the case or as to the law of the Church, so that justice has not been done to the accused.
23. (a) Every Diocesan Court shall keep a full record of its proceedings including the articles of presentment with the names of the presenters and the accused, the evidence, the opinion of the clerical or lay assessors if any, and the judgment of the judge or judges.
(b) The record shall be preserved in the Registry of the Diocese.
24. It is the duty of any member of the Church when duly cited to attend and give evidence before the Diocesan Court.
25. (a) If it be necessary to take the testimony of an absent witness, such testimony shall be taken in the form and manner provided in the Provincial Constitution and Canons, by a Commissioner or Commissioners to be appointed for that purpose by the President and the evidence shall be reduced to writing and thereafter signed by the person or persons making the statement and countersigned by the Commissioner or Commissioners appointed for the purpose, whereupon such statement or statements shall be forwarded to the Diocesan Court and shall be read and used at the trial.
(b) No application for the appointment of such Commissioner or Commissioners shall be made by either party to the President except after notice in writing given by the one to the other of his or their intention as to apply.
26. No person shall sit as a member of the Diocesan Court or as an assessor who is a presenter of a charge or who is related to any accused person by affinity or consanguinity in a direct ascending or descending line, or a brother, uncle, nephew or first cousin or God-parent.
27. (a) Both the accused and the presenter or presenters jointly shall have respectively the right to object to not more than two (2) members of the Diocesan Court.
(b) If such objections be held by the remaining members of the Diocesan Court to be warranted, the Bishop shall appoint other clergymen to take the place of the member or members to whom such objection was taken.