Report from the Grand Council: October, 1998
To the Directors, Greetings.
You asked us to prepare a report on Banishment for the October meeting. Here is what we were able to produce in the time available. It is not as complete as we would like, but we were able to reach a surprising degree of agreement on core issues.
Items Requiring Board Action 1) An outline of potential changes to the banishment and sanction process, supported by a strong majority of the Grand Council, is attached as an appendix. Please review it.
If the outline is acceptable to you, the next step would be assigning someone the task of preparing a final outline, and then language for full implementation. The Council would be happy to do this, and might give the job to an individual or small committee, who would bring it back to the full Council for comment and revision before passing it on to you.
If you are seriously interested in proceeding with these changes, we recommend that a version of the outline be published for comment to determine if it is acceptable to the Society.
If you would like the proposed changes developed further, whoever is given this task would be greatly aided by a full and frank response on any questions, concerns, or objections you may have to the outline. If you have any questions about the reasoning behind the changes proposed by the Council, we would be happy to answer in greater detail.
2) There was also considerable feeling that the current secrecy requirements for disciplinary proceedings should be relaxed, if this can be done without exposing the Society to serious legal risk. We do not have the resources to answer this within the Council, and request that the Board authorize the necessary legal research. There was very strong support for this measure within the Council.
We need to know the maximum amount of disclosure and openness that can be achieved, rather than the simplest and surest way to insulate the corporation from legal risk. While secrecy may be a sure and simple way to protect the corporation from liability, it is in other ways contrary to the interests of the Society. It may be that the degree of disclosure that is practical will vary depending on jurisdiction.
Detailed Status Report During the past quarter the Council has developed an outline of proposed action on banishment, which is attached.
Summary The Grand Council recommended that the current secrecy requirements for disciplinary proceedings should be relaxed, if this can be done without exposing the Society to serious legal risk, and requested that the Board authorize the necessary legal research to determine to what extent this might be practical.
The Council also submitted an outline of recommended changes to banishment and sanction procedures. It proposed that level 1 banishment be retained without major changes, Level 2 abolished, and Level 3 replaced by procedures for imposing temporary suspension of participation and lesser penalties by grievance panels operating at the realm level. It recommended that minimum standards of due process be set for Society sanction procedures, and urged a strong policy of dealing with offenses against contemporary criminal or civil law through the contemporary legal system where that system provides sufficient remedy. The Board may also wish to institute a separate grievance panel at the corporate level.
Will McLean (Galleron de Cressy)
29 Sam Hill Rd,
Malvern, PA 19355
(610) 827-1360 firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary, Grand Council
Appendix I: Banishment: Possible Changes
1) Banishment from the Presence (level 1) would be retained without major changes.
2) Banishment from the Realm (level 2) would be deleted as unclear, overused, and straddling the boundary between the medieval recreation and modern administration.
3) Absolute Banishment (level 3) would be removed as a "medieval" sanction that may be imposed by royalty without any prior requirements for due process.
4) Recourse to Modern Legal System. Offenses against contemporary civil or criminal law that threaten the Society should be dealt with through the contemporary legal system. Policy should further emphasize that where a remedy exists under contemporary law, that should be the preferred solution rather than our own internal procedures. This would not preclude the Society taking further steps needed to protect itself while legal action was being pursued, or from accepting suitable settlement.
5) Due process. More serious Society sanctions could only be imposed according to due process, which would include judgment by an impartial panel meeting according to Society rules, and the opportunity to be informed of the evidence and charges, and to present evidence and testimony in one's own defense. Sanctions should be proportionate and appropriate to the offense.
6) Realm Grievance Panels a)Panels meeting at the realm level could impose sanctions up to and including a temporary ban on participation. They might also impose censure, warning, probation, or a ban on holding office, handling Society funds, or taking part in specific activities.
b)If the breach was a serious one and it was recommended that the sanction, such as a ban on holding office, should extend throughout the Society, or include a permanent ban on participation, the recommendation would be forwarded to the corporate office for final decision.
c)Decisions of the grievance panels could be appealed to the corporate level, but review would not be automatic. Appeals would need to be based on a failure to follow Society rules or the relevant requirements of due process. The panel would collect sufficient records of the proceeding and evidence to allow later review.
7) Relation to Governing Documents. The sanctions in item 6) would be matters of group administration; the means by which the corporation preserves its legal and financial integrity, and maintains a safe and pleasant environment at its events. In a reorganization of the current governing documents that properly separated medieval recreation and modern administration, they would be part of the by-laws and policy of SCA, Inc. (Milpitas), not the Society- wide rules of medieval recreation.
8) Relation of Society Corporations. Where other Society corporations are responsible for their own operations, how they maintain their own internal order and discipline should be an internal matter, although they would be expected to offer reasonable due process, and they might well follow a similar model, with their own corporate level as the highest level of appeal.
However, where one corporation has a problem participant who was likely to travel to other jurisdictions, it would be reasonable to have a policy that that SCA corporation would inform the others.
9) Independent Grievance Panel at Corporate Level. It is hoped that the changes suggested would reduce the number of grievance issues that must be reviewed by the Board. If the number of matters they must review remains burdensome, they may also wish to institute a separate review panel at the corporate level.
Unresolved Issues The Council realizes that there are a number of unresolved details to the outline. For example, while most of the Council did not feel that imposing a single Society-wide procedure on grievance panels would be desirable or practical, there was an interest in general guidelines beyond the basic requirements of due process discussed in 5). We have not, however, discussed what those might be. There was some discussion of retaining "abatement of arms", the temporary withholding of recognition of titles and honors that is now part of the level two bundle of sanctions, as a purely medieval side sanction available to the Crown. We have not, however, resolved what restrictions and review, if any, this power might be subject to.
Appendix II: Results of Grand Council Straw Poll on Banishment
Simple yes/no count first, then YES/yes/abstain/no/NO, with YES and NO indicating stronger agreement or disagreement. The full wording of the questions was virtually identical to that used in Appendix I
1) Level 1 retained 19/2 13Y6y2a1n1N
2) Level 2 abolished 19/2 14Y5y2a1n1N
3) Level 3 removed as a "medieval" sanction imposed by royalty without any prior requirements for due process. 18/3 16Y2y2a3N
4) Recourse to Modern Legal System. 18/1 11Y7y4a1N
5) Due process. 20/1 14Y6y2a1N
6) Realm Grievance Panels a)Panels meeting at the realm level could impose sanctions up to and including a temporary ban on participation. 16/4 10Y6y3a4N
b)If the sanction should extend throughout the Society, or include a permanent ban on participation, the recommendation to be forwarded to the corporate office for final decision. 16/4 9Y7y3a2n2N
c)Decisions of the grievance panels could be appealed to the corporate level, but review not automatic, but based on failure of due process. 15/5 5Y10y3a3n2N
7) Relation to Governing Documents. Sanctions in 6) to be part of modern administration of SCA. 16/3 11Y5y4a1n2N
8) Relation of Society Corporations. 18/2 8Y10y3a1n1N
An SCA corporation would inform others of relevant sanctions 20/1 10Y10y3a1N
9) Independent Grievance Panel at Corporate Level. 16/3 11Y5y4a1n2N
10) Realm Panels should be subject to a) Requirements of due process in 5) 17/3 12Y5y3a3N
b) Further general requirements, to be discussed 14/4 5Y9y5a1n4N
c) A single Society wide procedure 8/11 3Y4y5a4n7N