From the manual for elders of Jehovah's Witnesses
"Pay Attention To Yourselves and to All the Flock"
UNIT 5 (c) -- Part 2 of 3
Appealing Judicial Decisions
If the accused believes that an error in judgment was
committed, he should make known in writing his reason
for requesting an appeal, doing so within seven days
from the time he was notified of the decision of the
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His written statement should be addressed to the judicial
committee that decided the matter.
The judicial committee chairman will promptly contact
the circuit overseer, who will then designate elders to serve
on the appeal committee.
If the basis for the appeal is not clear in the written
If possible, elders selected by the circuit overseer for
hearing the appeal should not be from the same con-
gregation as the original committee.
statement, try to determine which of the following is
The appeal should be heard even if the basis for it may not
He contends that a disfellowshipping offense was not
He denies committing the alleged wrong.
He admits to wrongdoing but believes he was repen-
appear sound. (km 1/80 p. 4)
If the person should appeal after seven days, immedi-
ately contact the Society for direction.
The hearing is conducted in a manner similar to the first
judicial committee hearing.
UNIT 5 (c) - 125
It may be necessary to rehear all the evidence relevant to
the case, including that which was presented originally
and any new evidence now available.
The judicial committee that heard the original case should
be present at the appeal hearing(s).
Following the presentation of the evidence, the appeal
Prior to the appeal hearing, the original committee
should furnish the appeal committee with the complet-
ed S-77 and S-79 forms along with whatever written
records it has from the first hearing(s).
If either the original committee or the accused believes
that earlier testimony or evidence is being changed, this
can be so stated following the presentation of the
alleged altered evidence.
committee should deliberate in private.
The appeal committee may need to question either the
original committee or the accused separately.
The appeal committee is to determine whether there was
an error in judgment or the decision was basically sound
according to information available; it should also deter-
mine the attitude of the accused at the original commit-
The appeal committee is to ascertain whether there was a
Scriptural basis for the original action taken and whether
the individual was repentant at the time of the hearing by
the original judicial committee.
The appeal committee may find that while the original
There may be mitigating circumstances the committee
overlooked, such as a history of some type of abuse when
a child, emotional or mental disorders, or other.
While these do not justify wrongdoing, understanding the
underlying reason or causes of emotional or mental
problems can help the committee to reach a balanced and
compassionate judgment. (w90 2/15 pp. 21-3; w83 lO/1
The wrongdoer may admit guilt on a disfellowshipping
charge hut claim that at the time of the original judicial
committee hearing, he was repentant. (w83 1/1 pp. 30-1)
The appeal committee will examine evidence to see if he
had genuinely repented. (Unit 5 (b) pp. 112-15; w81 9/1
basis for disfellowshipping was invalid, other valid
grounds for disfellowshipping exist.
If this happens, the individual should be given sufficient
time, even several days if needed, to present any evidence
or witnesses that he feels will disprove the new
If the new allegations are nonetheless established and if
the person does not demonstrate genuine repentance, the
appeal committee may decide to disfellowship on these
The appeal committee should then inform the accused of
its decision to uphold the disfellowshipping and
126 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "
should also inform him of the steps he needs to take to
New S-77 and S-79 forms should be made out giving the
proper information, and these along with the original
forms and correspondence related to the case should be
sent to the branch office.
When the disfellowshipping is upheld by the appeal
committee, there is no further right to appeal. However,
if an individual persists in believing a serious error in
judgment has occurred, the appeal committee should
inform him that he may submit his allegations in writing
to the appeal committee within seven days for transmittal
to the branch office.
The appeal committee will include this statement along
with the information being sent to the branch office.
No announcement of disfellowshipping should be made
until observations are received from the branch office.
If no written claim of a serious error in judgment has been
provided to the appeal committee within seven days (as
outlined above), the appeal committee should send in the
S-77 and S-79 forms and tell the original committee to
announce the disfellowshipping.
If the appeal committee disagrees with the decision to
disfellowship, the decision should be discussed with the
original judicial committee privately.
UNIT 5 (c) - 127
If both committees agree that the person should not be
disfellowshipped, the individual should be so advised.
The appeal committee will send the branch office a brief
explanation of the mutual conclusion not to disfellowship
reached by both committees, which should clearly state
that the original judicial committee agrees with the deci
The original committee will receive a copy of the
letter,which will be kept in a sealed envelope in the
congregation's confidential file.
At times the original committee and the appeal committee
may hold conflicting opinions.
When this occurs, the individual should not be given any
indication of the conclusions of the appeal committee.
Simply tell the person that the decision is pending.
The appeal committee should send the S-77 and S-79
forms to the branch office with a letter giving reasons for
its decision and should include a letter from the original
committee expressing the reason(s) for disagreement.
It may be that certain important factors are being
The appeal committee gives the original committee a copy
of its report. Both committees await a reply from the
overlooked by one or both of the committees.
Once any differences between the committees have been
The branch office will be glad to comment on any such
factors and offer additional Scriptural assistance as may
be needed. Such information will be supplied for the
Further meetings with the accused or between the
committees may or may not be necessary to conclude the
resolved in the light of the Scriptural principles cited by
the branch office, the appeal committee should inform the
individual of the decision.
If the decision is to disfellowship, the original judicial
committee will arrange to make the announcement to the
While there should be no hasty action in reinstating
disfellowshipped individuals, consideration should be
given to a plea for reinstatement when this is requested.
Once a year the body of elders reviews a list of those in
the congregation territory who are disfellowshipped or
128 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock"
disassociated. They will call on each one they select in
order to see if he wants to return. (w91 4/15 pp. 22-3)
The body will assign two elders to make each call,
preferably elders familiar with the case.
During a brief visit or two, the elders can kindly explain
what the individual can do to return.
They will report the results to the Congregation Service
Committee, and the body will be informed at the next
meeting of the elders.
If someone asks about reinstatement or if by changing his
course gives evidence of repentance and a desire to be
reinstated, the authorized elders may speak with the
individual and kindly explain what he needs to do in order
to he reinstated.
There is an advantage to having the elders who served on
the judicial committee that disfellowshipped the
individual also serve on the committee for the
reinstatement if this is possible and they are still serving
as elders in the congregation handling the request for
In hearing pleas for reinstatement, elders need to be
Genuine repentance and a turning away from the wrong
course--not the attitude of others or merely the time
elapsed--are the chief determining factors in deciding
when a person may be reinstated. (1 Cor. 5:1, 11-13; 2
Cor. 2:6, 7)
Elders should be sure that sufficient time has passed for
the disfellowshipped person to prove that his profession
of repentance is genuine. ( it-2 p. 771 )
Consider the overall pattern of his life. Does it now show
that he is repentant? (w77 3/1 p. 152)
If so, elders will guard against going to extremes by
exacting a point-by-point admission of sins that may not
have been clearly proved.
UNIT 5 (c) - 129
Where there is evidence of conspiracy between
individuals to put away their mates and marry each other,
considerable time should elapse before a hearing for
reinstatement may be held. (w79 11/15 pp. 31-2)
If it is determined that the wrongdoer is sincerely
repentant, has discontinued his former wrong conduct,
and is doing works that befit repentance, he can be
reinstated. (Compare Acts 26:20.)
The decision to reinstate is made by a judicial committee
of the congregation that took the disfellowshipping action.
The secretary should sign and return the S-79b card to the
Society immediately. (om pp. 149-50)
Reinstatement is announced in the congregation where the
If the disfellowshipped person has moved, his request for
reinstatement may be heard by a local judicial committee
where he is now attending meetings. Thereafter, that
committee will give the body of elders of the congregation
that disfellowshipped the individual its recommendation.
If the two congregations are reasonably close to each
other, the judicial committee of the congregation that took
the disfellowshipping action should meet with the
disfellowshipped individual after receiving the
recommendation of the committee of the congregation
where he made his plea for reinstatement.
person was disfellowshipped as well as in the
congregation where he now attends.
When an individual is reinstated, he will still need much
130 - "Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock "
The elders should see that definite arrangements are made
to help the person regain spiritual health and strength.
(Col. 2:7; Titus 2:1, 2)
They may arrange for a Bible study to be conducted,
which would be reported as field service.
Restrictions should be imposed to help the person see the
need of continuing to make 'straight paths for his feet' and
also out of consideration for the congregation's
conscience. (Heb. 12:13)
The privilege of sharing in the field service is restored
when the individual is reinstated.
other privileges, such as commenting at meetings,
handling parts on the program, and offering prayer at
meetings, can be restored progressively when it is
determined that the individual has progressed spiritually
to the point that he is qualified and when it is judged by
the elders that the extending of such privileges will not be
offensive to the congregation.
It will be up to the elders of the congregation where he
now is located to decide when certain privileges may be
Circumstances of each case govern the length of time that
should elapse before recommending a reinstated brother
for additional privileges and responsibility.
Carefully consider possible effects if the individual were
to be appointed. Would it be a cause for stumbling among
The privilege of serving as ministerial servant or elder can
be recommended only after he has had ample time to
prove himself to be irreprehensible and is again "free from
accusation" and has "freeness of speech." ( 1 Tim. 3:2, 9,
He must live down the reproach and build up a convincing
record of righteousness, which may take a number of
If wrongdoing occurred in another congregation, the
feelings of members of that congregation should be
In cases of scandal, he might not be able to live down
his wrongdoing sufficiently to qualify for an appoint-
ment to serve as a ministerial servant or an elder for a
very long time.
UNIT 5 (c) - 131
End of Part 2 (part 2 of 3)
"Pay Attention to Yourslves and to All the Flock"
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