When legal proceedings take place there’s a number of players involved in the room – the judge or panel, counsel for the respondents (the people charged with an offence), the prosecution, and the ever-present court reporter that transcribes everything that happens into a permanent record.
For the ASC hearing that took place on Aug 13, 2018, a representative from Dicta Court Reporting dutifully recorded everything that was said. This document was then put into their files and made available for purchase. Being the curious type I bought a PDF copy of the transcript and read it.
I’ll start my analysis with this statement from the District letter:
We remind you to review the press regarding this matter with a critical eye as:
Shocking as it may seem, I agree. Though I’ll submit that, given their history over the past two decades, one must review anything coming out of the District office with a much more critical eye than official publications from the ASC. In this article I’ll use my “critical eye” to examine the ASC’s notice of hearing, the ABC District’s Aug 23, 2018 letter, and the hearing transcript I have in my possession.
With respect to the District letter itself – one has to ask how appropriate is it for a corporation to send out a letter to its membership with the clear implication that a hearing notice is “nothing to see here” when the notice explicitly charges said company with wrongdoing? Is this not a conflict of interest? And if it is a conflict of interest, doesn’t basic Christian honesty require it to be declared as such?
So where’s the declaration?
The Alberta Security Commission (ASC) published a Notice of Hearing on June 27, 2018 which makes allegations against the following, and names each as respondents: the Lutheran Church – Canada, the Alberta-British Columbia District; Lutheran Church – Canada, the Alberta-British Columbia District Investments Ltd.; and five individuals who served as officers, directors, or employees of the Alberta-British Columbia District.
The notice was published June 27, 2018, the hearing was held Aug 13, 2018, and then on Aug 23, 2018 – ten days later – this letter was penned.
Why is this letter about the notice of hearing and not about the hearing itself?
1. The Notice of Hearing does not contain conclusions and is not a report.
The list of allegations and backup information in the notice clearly indicates the ASC’s staff’s conclusion that they have sufficient evidence to convict the named respondents of breaching the specified security regulations. It also contains a significant amount of information that – in any other circumstances – would be considered a detailed report of why they came to that conclusion. (2)
It is a summary of the allegations made against the District and others which the District will have an opportunity to respond to;
No quibble here.
2. The Notice of Hearing, like any other document created and publicly issued at the start of a legal proceeding, is the first of many steps which will lead to this matter being concluded.
Disagree as “the legal proceeding” started when the ASC determined there was sufficient cause to investigate what transpired at District. When their investigation returned enough evidence to conclude that laws and/or regulations were broken and they could convict the various named respondents, the ASC staff proceeded accordingly and the July 2018 notice of hearing is a part of that process.
The letter is correct that there are many steps before this matter is concluded – and from my reading of the transcript I get the distinct impression the counsel for the respondent’s strategy is to stuff as many steps and tangential information into the proceeding as they can in an effort to confuse things and/or delay the resolution of this “matter”.
Among the steps which have yet to be taken are and/or may be: the collection of evidence, the District’s own investigation, attempts to resolve matters, and a hearing; and
Collection of evidence? District’s “own investigation”? Such as the Task Force that was started in Mar 2015 and then shut down in Sept 2016? District’s situation became publicly known in Jan 2015. It’s now ~3.5 years later. What have they been doing in the meantime?
As for “attempts to resolve matters” I’m of the opinion the only resolution the ASC would be interested in is a guilty plea. This is something the District BOD needs to understand – the ASC isn’t an LCC political structure they can bamboozle with pious-sounding words of purported reconciliation that never go anywhere.
3. The issuance of the Notice of Hearing indicates that this matter is at a very preliminary, and pre-hearing stage.
The transcript indicates otherwise – before the hearing the ASC had handed over a USB drive with some 3,000 documents, a witness list, and transcripts from interviews they had conducted under oath. At the hearing ASC staff indicated they were ready to proceed with a suggested start date of Feb 2019. Counsel for the respondents tried to get the hearing put off until the conclusion of the representative actions or get a start date of Nov 2019 to allow time for “research and to prepare their defense”.
After the ASC panel heard from both sides they decided on a start date of May 2019 and to proceed for seven weeks.
Much like when news readers end reports by advising the listener that none of the allegations have been proven in Court; we ask that you please remember that none of these allegations have been proven at this time.
This statement references two different things – having the case proven in a court of law, and proven in the sense that the facts are true. Whether this was a slip-up or intentional I’ll address them as written.
First, allegations which have not been proven in court means the court has yet to decide if the evidence is sufficiently strong to eliminate all reasonable doubt and return a conviction. Failure to reach this standard does not mean the accused did or did not do the crime, it just means that either the case hasn’t been heard yet or the prosecution was not able to convince the court the accused was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Second, allegations don’t have to be proven true inside a court in order for them to be true from a factual point of view. People outside the legal system, and a Christian church in particular, do not need a court of law to establish the facts of a matter, decide guilt or innocence, and then adjudicate the result. Regardless of what a court of law may find, the church has an obligation to perform its own investigation and adjudicate any allegations of wrongdoing within its ranks accordingly.
As is written in Scripture:
(to be continued in Part 2)
(1) You can get your own copy of the transcript PDF by calling Dicta Court Reporting @ 1-866-531-0590, asking for a transcript of the Lutheran Church hearing that took place Aug 13, 2018, and paying the transcript fee ($90 CDN as of Aug 2018).