Instituting a Masonic Trial
A Masonic trial is prosecuted in the name of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of North Carolina on the complaint filed by the lodge or the brother preferring the charges, called the complainant, against the individual brother or particular lodge charged with an offense, called the accused.
The charges are the formal allegation that the accused by commission or omission, is guilty of some designated Masonic offense and a statement of the facts and circumstances tending to support such allegation.
A proceeding seeking the punishment of an individual Mason or of a particular lodge through a Masonic trial shall be instituted by a complaint transmitted to the Grand Secretary or by charges prepared by direction of the Judge Advocate of his own motion and filed with the Grand Secretary. [73-4.2; 94-7].
Any brother in good standing may prefer a complaint against another brother, or against a particular lodge, but no profane may prefer such complaint. The term brother as used in this regulation includes Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, or Master Mason either resident or sojourner. A lodge in North Carolina may prefer a complaint against another lodge in North Carolina or against a brother. [74-2; 91-13.11].
No complaint shall be preferred against a brother who is insane.
The complaint is the allegation made to the effect that an individual or a particular lodge has been guilty of unmasonic conduct. [90-10; 90-11].
5. It should state comprehensively, but briefly and without needless repetition, the time, place, and nature of the acts or omissions complained of so that the Judge Advocate may determine whether, if proven, they would constitute a Masonic offense.
7. If the complaint alleges acts or omissions on the part of the accused which constitute different offenses or different methods or means, times, or places of committing a single offense, these may be joined in one instrument which shall describe the separate offenses as Charge I, Charge II, etc. and the different acts or omissions which constitute the same offense as Specification 1, Specification 2, and so on.
9. The fact that there is a difference between the time alleged and proved will not defeat the action. The exact time or place is not material, except neither should be stated so as to mislead in the proof but should be somewhere near the time and place alleged.
10. No charge or specification shall be held defective or insufficient because indefinite in statement as to time or place, or other matters, if on its face it is sufficient to apprise the accused of the true nature of the offense and serve as a guide in the production of proofs and the imposition of penalties in case of conviction. [Trial Forms 2, 3].94-15.3]. [91-7].
12. The complaint shall contain the actual residence address of the accused if it is known to the complainant. It shall also contain the last known mailing address of the accused as shown on the records of the lodge of which the accused is, or last was, a member, if such address is known to or ascertainable by, the complainant.
Within five days after the charges have been received by the Judge Advocate, he shall determine whether the same shall be entertained, dismissed, or held open for adjustment.
1. In the event the Judge Advocate determines to hold the matter open for adjustment he shall thereupon notify the complainant that he has taken the matter under advisement. If the matter is not adjusted within thirty days the Judge Advocate must determine whether the charges shall be entertained or dismissed.
2. In the event the Judge Advocate dismisses the complaint, he shall within five days after receiving the same, return the complaint together with his order of dismissal to the Grand Secretary, who shall within five days after the receipt by him forward a copy of the order to the complainant. The papers in the case shall be kept by the Grand Secretary subject to such disposition as may be ordered by the Grand Lodge. [
A Trial Commission shall consist of three disinterested brethren who have attained the rank of Master of a subordinate lodge or who are Past Masters, and are members in good standing of three different subordinate lodges in North Carolina other than the lodge of which either the complainant or the accused is or last was a member.
1. The Judge Advocate shall designate the chairman, and a majority of the trial commissioners shall constitute a quorum.
2. Any brother selected to serve as a trial commissioner may be excused by the Judge Advocate only for imperative reasons.
3. No trial commissioner shall be a witness for either party. [
4. A member of the Committee on Appeals of the Grand Lodge shall not be eligible to act as a Trial Commissioner.
In the event the Judge Advocate determines that the complaint shall be entertained as provided in Regulations91-6.13 and 91-7, and if the Judge Advocate does not proceed under Regulation 91-12, he shall at once cause a certified copy of the complaint to be served on the accused in the manner hereinafter set forth, together with a notice to the accused which shall contain the name, address, and lodge membership of each of the trial commissioners appointed to hear and try the same. [91-11; Trial Forms 2, 3, 4].
1. The notice shall contain a statement that if the accused fails to answer to the complaint within the time specified therein, which time shall not be less than ten days, he shall be deemed to have admitted the truth of the complaint and each and every specification thereof. [Trial Form 4].
2. The notice shall contain a statement that if the accused fails to challenge any of the trial commissioners named in the notice prior to the date therein specified, which date shall not be less than ten days after the date of the notice, he shall be deemed to have consented to the appointment of the trial commissioners named in the notice. [Trial Form 4].
A. If the lodge is a North Carolina lodge it shall cause the notice to be read at the first stated communication after it has been received.
B. Only the following record shall be made in the minutes of that communication: "Notice was received at this stated communication that charges of unmasonic conduct against Brother (give his name) are pending in the Grand Lodge."
C. The Lodge shall make no further record of the case until it has been closed, and will then comply with Regulation
D. The Secretary shall make a notation on the roster of the lodge opposite the accused brother’s name, and no demit or certificate of good standing shall be granted to any accused brother until his case has been finally disposed of. [75-15; 76-3; 91-13.6]. 90-5, notices to, and correspondence with, such lodge shall be sent through the office of our Grand Secretary. The provisions of Regulation 43-11 shall be complied with. [93-2].
6. The complaint and notice may be served on the accused either by delivering the same personally or by forwarding it by registered or certified U.S. mail to his last known address. If the accused is a lodge, the complaint and notice may be served on either the Master or the Secretary of the lodge in the same manner. [87-19; 90-17; 91-11]. 83-3; 91-13.5].
8. Proof of service upon an accused shall be by the certificate of the person making the service, if he be a Mason, or by his affidavit if he be not. In either case it shall detail the time, place, and manner of the service. [91-13.5; Trial Form 6]. 87-19; 91-13.5].
The accused must answer the complaint in writing over his own signature and serve the original and five copies thereof upon the Judge Advocate within the time specified in the notice served in accordance with the provisions of Regulation91-9.
1. If he fails to do so, he shall be deemed to have admitted the truth of each charge and specification. [
2. An answer to a complaint, charge, or any specification thereof may consist of either of the following:
A. A general denial, [Trial Form 7]
B. An admission of guilt with the addition of an exculpatory statement or explanation, or
C. An admission without exculpatory statement or explanation and either with or without a plea in mitigation of punishment.
The minimum time within which the accused must answer the complaint shall be as follows: [90-15; 90-16; 90-17].
1. If the charges have been served by personal service:
A. Within the state of North Carolina or an adjoining state, ten days from the date of service.
B. Elsewhere in the United States, exclusive of Alaska, the Canal Zone Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, twenty days from the date of service.
C. In any other place, thirty days from the date of service.
2. If the complaint has been served by mail:
A. Within the state of North Carolina or an adjoining state, twenty days from date of mailing.
B. Elsewhere in the United States, exclusive of Alaska, the Canal Zone, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, thirty days from date of mailing.
C. In any other place, sixty days from date of mailing.
In the event the complaint shows on its face that the unmasonic conduct complained of constitutes a felony under the laws of the United States of America, either civil or military, or the laws of the State of North Carolina, or the laws of the State wherein committed, or in the event the laws of this Grand Lodge prescribes a mandatory penalty of expulsion or a mandatory penalty of suspension for a definite period, the Judge Advocate may proceed as follows.
1. He may at once cause a certified copy of the complaint and notice to be served on the accused as provided in Regulation
2. The notice shall state that the unmasonic conduct complained of, if admitted or proven, constitutes an offense for which the Grand Lodge prescribes a mandatory penalty of expulsion, or such other mandatory penalty as may be prescribed.
3. If the complaint and notice are served by registered or certified mail and they are returned undelivered for any reason the service shall be considered completed as personal service for the purposes of this Regulation only. [91-9.9].
4. The notice to the accused shall contain a statement that if the accused answers the complaint and admits the charges, or any charge contained therein, the penalty for which is specifically prescribed, or if he fails, refuses or neglects to answer the complaint and deny the charges within the time specified in such notice, he shall be deemed to have admitted the truth of the complaint and each charge or specification.
5. The Judge Advocate will, after the expiration of the time mentioned in the notice or provided in Regulation91-11, enter a decision in the cause declaring the accused guilty and imposing the prescribed penalty.
6. If the accused admits the charges, or if he fails, refuses or neglects to answer the charges contained in the complaint, within the time specified in the Notice hereinabove mentioned, the Judge Advocate shall prepare the decision in the cause and impose the specific mandatory penalty prescribed by The Code.
7. Any decision of the Judge Advocate entered pursuant to the provisions of this Regulation shall be forwarded to the Accused, Complainant, Lodge of which the accused is or was a member and to the Grand Secretary, in the same manner and to the same extent as if the decision had been duly and regularly entered by a duly constituted Trial Commission as provided in Chapter95 of this Trial Code. [95-5.11].
8. The decision of the Judge Advocate shall be effective on the date that he enters the same, and when it has been duly filed in the office of the Grand Secretary, it shall be final unless reversed or modified pursuant to an appeal taken in the manner provided by law. [Chapter 98].
9. The provision of Chapter96, entitled "OPENING DEFAULT"; of Chapter 98, entitled "APPEALS"; of Chapter 99, entitled "REHEARING" and of Chapter 101, entitled "RESTORATION AFTER SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION" shall apply to any and every decision entered and penalty imposed under this Regulation.
10. If the accused files an answer and denies that the person named in the complaint is in fact the person convicted by the criminal or civil court, the Judge Advocate shall appoint a Trial Commission as provided in Regulation91-7.6 and thereafter all proceedings in the cause shall be in accordance with the provisions of this TRIAL CODE, without regard to the provisions of this Regulation.
If no complaint, as described in the Trial Code, has been filed within sixty days after the commission of the act, or the discovery of the omission, a summary trial by the Grand Master may be held as follows.
1. If the Grand Master, after investigation, believes that any Mason as hereinafter mentioned in subsection two has violated, or has been a party to the violation of, the law of this Grand Lodge, he shall have the power and authority in his discretion to summarily try, and to punish, any such Mason as provided in this Regulation. [
A. To a brother who was, or is, an officer and/or a member of the governing board, of any organization whose membership in such organization is dependent upon affiliation with any Degree of Symbolic Masonry, and
3. The Grand Master shall have the power and authority to conduct such investigation as he may deem proper and to summon, over his signature and the seal of his office, any Mason to give testimony or to produce books, records documents, or other physical evidence in his possession pertaining to the case, under the penalty provided in Regulations83-1.2, 87-13.2, and 94-21 for failure or refusal to comply with such summons or to give testimony.
4. The Grand Master may conduct such investigation and/or such summary trial, personally, or he may appoint one or more representatives, not to exceed five representatives, to conduct the same and to make recommendations to him, however, he shall determine the verdict and name the penalty over his official signature and the seal of his office. Each of such representatives shall have attained the rank of Master or Past Master of a subordinate lodge, and they shall be members in good standing of different subordinate lodges in North Carolina other than the lodge of which the accused is or last was a member.
5. The accused shall be informed in writing of the charge against him, and he shall be given not less than five days in which to be heard. He may have counsel, who shall be a Master Mason, and he may present testimony. The complaint or accusation and the summons to appear may be served on the accused either by delivering the same personally or by forwarding them by registered U.S. mail to his last known address, and Regulations91-9.7, 91-9.8, and 91-9.9 shall apply. [87-19]. Any other paper or notice required in such case to be served on the accused or any other Mason, may be served upon him, or upon an attorney who has appeared for him or who has been appointed by him and it may be forwarded by ordinary first class U.S. mail to his last known address, or it may be served personally.
6. At the same time that the complaint or accusation is served on the accused, two certified copies of the same shall be filed with the Grand Secretary, and he shall enter the same on his Docket as required in Regulation90-13, and within five days, he shall send, by first class mail, one certified copy thereof to the lodge of which the accused is or last was a member, if in North Carolina; and the provisions of Regulation 91-9.3 shall be observed. The Grand Secretary shall retain one copy of the complaint for his record.
7. The procedure thereafter shall be had as the Grand Master shall direct and in any such case it is not required that the Trial Code shall govern except as specifically set forth in this Regulation, or as the Grand Master may order.
8. In the event the accused is found guilty of the charge, the penalty shall be suspension from all of the rights and privileges of Masonry, until the next annual communication of the Grand Lodge; however, if the gravity of the offense justifies it, in the opinion of the Grand Master, or if the Code prescribes it, the penalty shall be expulsion. The provisions of Chapter97 may also be applied in the discretion of the Grand Master. [13-4.11; 87-11].
9. A copy of the judgment in the case shall be filed with the Grand Secretary within ten days after it has been signed by the Grand Master, and the Grand Secretary shall within ten days serve certified copies thereof on the accused and on the lodge of which the accused is, or last was, a member and the provisions of Regulation95-5.11 shall be observed by that lodge. If the lodge is located in another Grand Jurisdiction the said certified copy shall be forwarded to the Grand Secretary of that Grand Jurisdiction.
10. Not less than fifteen days before the next annual communication of the Grand Lodge the Grand Master shall make a full report of his proceedings in the matter, and shall return to the Grand Secretary all testimony taken and all instruments, reports, and other documents, upon which the discipline was founded, all of which shall be referred to the Committee on Appeals as provided for in Chapter98, as far as that Chapter can be made to apply to this Regulation, for its consideration and report to the Grand Lodge in the same manner as if an appeal had been perfected under that Chapter. If the penalty is suspension, it shall terminate at the close of that annual communication unless other action is taken in the case by the Grand Lodge. Regulation 98-12 shall also apply.
11. While the summary trial by the Grand Master as provided in this Regulation is pending, and has not been concluded, it shall be a bar to a trial of the accused for the same offense under the provisions of the Trial Code. Regulation94-24 shall also apply. [91-4].