Committee for Legal Affairs 2013 Report
COMMITTEE FOR LEGAL AFFAIRS
Summary Report to Assembly IV – September 2012 to August 2013
Committee: Bishop Daniel (Chairman), Bishop Andonios; Consultants: Fr. Greg Rubis; Bob Koory; Judge Ray Lanier; Ken Liu; Leon Lysaght; Sophia Mafrige; Bill Marianes; Louis Milicich; Jim Spencer; Ted Theophilos, Catherine Bouffides Walsh, and Thaddeus Wojcik. Secretariat Facilitator/Liaison: Eric Namee
Objectives of the Committee Per Terms of Reference: “The Committee for Legal Affairs is to i) determine and resolve all legal issues related to the Assembly; ii) determine any legal issues related to the activity of the agencies of which the Assembly has oversight, and address those issues; iii) formulate a common approach to the legal issues facing all the jurisdictions; iv) study and develop Best Practices related to specific circumstances; and v) resolve any questions addressed to them by the other committees.”
Committee Meetings Since Last Assembly Meeting:
- The Committee consultants met seven times by conference call. Committee sub-groups assigned to various tasks also met numerous times.
Committee Activities and Accomplishments Since Last Assembly Meeting:
- On February 21, 2013 the IRS issued a determination letter approving the Assembly’s 501(c)(3) Application for Recognition of Tax Exemption retroactive to the date of incorporation.
- Continued to gather and study information on jurisdictional organizational legal documents.
- Submitted applications to insurance companies to obtain price quotes on Assembly liability insurance.
- Prepared documentation for trademark applications.
- Responded to legal questions presented by other Assembly committees:
Youth Protection and Camp Regulations, Athletic Activity Regulations, Uniform Event Release of LiabilityReal Estate MattersResearch Jurisdiction Regulations / Statutes / BylawsSCOBA Agency Transition WorkNew assignments from other Assembly Committees
Action Items and Special Discussion Issues for the September 2013 Assembly:
In response to the request of the Secretariat to all Assembly Committees, the following are three areas of its work that the Legal Affairs Committee believes the Assembly needs to bless in order for the committee to be able to accomplish its assigned task:
- Jurisdiction/Parish Information. Receive and analyze all constitutions, bylaws, regulations and other organizational, operational and governing documents of each jurisdiction, including how their various units and parishes are organized.
- Major Institutions Information. Receive and analyze all legal documentation and information regarding the various kinds of other major institutional entities that exist in each jurisdiction. (e.g. monasteries, seminaries, colleges, schools, auxiliaries, brotherhoods, guilds, etc.)
- Legal Policies and Procedures Information. Receive and analyze all legal policies, procedures, manuals, handbooks and related documentation from each jurisdiction and its major operational units.
All of the above information will ultimately need to be gathered and understood before the Committee for Legal Affairs can assist the Assembly in properly structuring whatever organization results from the work of the Assembly. This work will be difficult and time consuming, so the sooner the Assembly gives its blessing for the Committee to proceed with these tasks, the better.
In addition to the three major areas of groundwork described above, there are other important areas that the Assembly may address in the future as part of its work, some of which the Committee realizes are highly sensitive. At some point, in order for the Committee to provide proper legal support to the Assembly, topics such as understanding pending or possible litigation will need to be taken into account; the articulation, in legally recognizable forms, of traditional principles of Orthodox ecclesiology with respect to the legal (as distinguished from canonical) polity and relationship of a unified national church with its dioceses, parishes, and other institutions should be considered; and the Assembly should indicate the norms and general structure that will govern the exercise and disposition of legal matters now vested in the separate jurisdictions in North America. These may be some of the hardest and most time consuming tasks before the Committee. However, it will be essential to understand these areas in order to properly structure whatever organization results from the work of the Assembly. The Committee understands that until the Assembly gives its blessing, it cannot proceed with its work in these sensitive areas, but the Committee wants to make sure that the Assembly is aware that these areas will need to be addressed in the future.