The Case of Bishop Kyles
The Judiciary Board of the Church of God in Christ, has taken a stand for justice that is unprecedented. This week they have released two rulings in which they looked at what the document says (what is written) and made these rulings.
In the case against Bishop Kyles of Texas, because of errors by the Board of Bishops, Bishop Kyles won his appeal. The Judiciary Board did not address his guilt or innocence, they only looked to see if errors claimed by Bishop Kyles occurred in his trial.. These are their findings of errors made by the trial court (Board of Bishops). Judiciary Board Order
Here are excerpts of the Judiciary Boards Order which only consist of the reason their decision was rendered as it was. The purpose of these excerpts is so the average person can understand their decision. Links will be provided for the complete documents. Links will be provided for the Board of Bishops rules which are mentioned.
Certification, Function and Deliberation of Jurors
The first issue the court will consider pertains to the certification, function and deliberation of the jurors in this case. The Constitution of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. as recorded in Section D, paragraph (i) of the Official Manual and the Board of Bishops Rule 10(r) govern the trial of a Bishop. For a Bishop to be convicted of misconduct, the majority of bishops present and voting must so vote. (See Board of Bishops Rule 10(5) (r)).* Likewise, the sentence for said wrongdoing must be agreed upon by the majority of bishops present and voting. (See Board of Bishops Rule 10(q))….
…The record is silent as to the number of bishops that voted for conviction. That deafening silence renders a review impossible. In the absence of numbers, there is no way that this court can accurately calculate the existence or absence of a majority. If this court is unable to confirm the existence of a majority, it cannot affirm a conviction predicated thereupon. As for the penalty phase, the record reflects that 46 (+5) voted for removal from office.
Simple arithmetic clearly indicates that the sentence cannot stand as is does not reflect a majority of the certified number of bishops present. It is largely irrelevant, however, because without a valid conviction, the sentence cannot stand. As a result, both the conviction and the sentence must be vacated.
This court is at a loss as to why the specific voting results were not recorded and incorporated into the official record of these proceedings. The failure to do so denies the respondent fundamental fairness and impugns the integrity of our church’s adjudicative process.
[(from Official Manual Article VIII, Section D, paragraph 2(i))]
(i) It will take a vote of the majority of the members of the Board of Bishops, present and voting, to sustain the charges or charge. If less than a majority, present and voting, fail to vote to sustain the charges, the accused Bishop shall stand acquitted.
Grievance Committee Members as Jurors
It appears from the record that bishops who served as grievance committee members also served as jurors. (See transcript of Day 2, Page 7, Line 6). For bishops to serve in this dual capacity denies the respondent due process and fundamental fairness.
First, the Grievance Committee members serve in an investigative capacity. As such, they are privy to information pertaining to the allegations that may or may not ultimately be admitted at trial. Additionally, their function is not merely to collect data, but they must evaluate that data. They not only determine whether charges should be brought, but they actually issue the charges. (See transcript of Day 1, Page 3, Lines 22-24; Page 4, Lines 1-5).
…Additionally, as investigators, they may be called upon to testify as to some portion of their investigation, in much the same way that a police officer is subject to be called upon to testify during the course of a criminal trial where he conducted some portion of the investigation.
In summary, not only does such a circumstance deny the respondent due process by tainting the jury pool, but it also compromises the legal process as it allows for the potentiality of grievance committee members to serve both as jurors and as witnesses in the same proceeding.
Arguing in Opening Statement/Standard of Proof
The next allegation to be addressed is whether allowing the plaintiff/prosecutor to argue during his opening statement was reversible error. It is fundamental that arguing during opening statements is improper. It is also fundamental that arguing during opening statements is generally not a basis for reversible error. However, in this case, the prosecutor did not merely argue in his opening but he effectively charged the jury which, of course, is improper. (See transcript of Day 1, Pages 17-19)….
Given that multiple standards of proof were provided to the jury, there is no way to ascertain if the jurors utilized the applicable standard of Clear and Convincing Evidence or the lesser standard of Preponderance of the Evidence. As a result, the conviction cannot stand.
Removal as Pastor
The respondent also argued that he was illegally removed from his post as pastor. Pursuant to the Board of Bishops Rule No. 3, paragraph (b) “[I]f the Complaint is being brought against the Bishop for his conduct in his capacity as a pastor of a local congregation, the Complainant must certify in writing that the Complaint is being brought by a majority of the members of the local congregation. (Emphasis added).” A review of the record from the proceedings below reflects that no such certification was ever referenced, presented or made part of the record. Furthermore, the order entered by the Board of Bishops does not include any language that pertains to restrictions or reprimands pertaining to the Respondent’s role as Pastor. Accordingly, no action taken against him as Pastor can stand, as no charge was levied against him in that capacity and no order has been entered against him infringing upon his functioning in that role. Furthermore, any action taken against the respondent in his capacity as Pastor is void ab initio.
Admission of Evidence of 20 year old trial
The final issue considered for review by this court is the admission of evidence of a charge from twenty years ago where the respondent was accused of similar offenses, but was ultimately exonerated. This court is unable to see the probative value of such evidence. Moreover, any probative value that it may have had was substantially outweighed by its prejudicial impact.
We find that such is the case here; it was plain error to allow the jurors to hear and consider that the respondent had been similarly charged over two decades ago.
For the foregoing reasons, the “Final Order and Judgment” of the lower
court is vacated and the matter is remanded for a new trial.