Court of Review for Bishops: The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno
The Court of Review for Bishops released its Order in the Title IV disciplinary matter involving the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno on January 31, 2019. The Court of Review upheld the decision of the Hearing Panel and the sentence, although it adjusted the sentence so that it commenced with the decision of the Hearing Panel rather than the Order of the Court of Review.
The Court of Review met in Atlanta, Georgia, in late September to hear oral arguments by the parties. The Court's decision was crafted over the ensuing eight weeks, and the members of the Court reviewed the decision and signed off over the weeks since Christmas.
In the appeal process, “…the Court of Review has a limited role. Both parties agree that the standard of review is governed by Canon IV.15.6 (b). Specifically, the canon in question requires that:
[T]he Court of Review shall grant relief to the appealing party only if, on the basis of the record of appeal, it determines that the party seeking review has been substantially prejudiced by any of the following…
(6) The factual determinations of the Hearing Panel are not supported by substantial evidence when viewed in the whole light of the record on appeal. (Emphasis added.) (p. 7 of the Order)
In its Order, “[T]he Court of Review of Bishops utilized the standard of review set forth in Canon IV.15.6(b) and finds that the majority of the factual determinations of the Hearing Panel are supported by substantial evidence when viewed as a whole in light of the record on appeal. The Court of Review further finds that the Hearing Panel did not erroneously interpret or apply the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, nor did it commit a procedural error or engage in a decision-making process contrary to Title IV. Finally, the Court of Review affirms the Respondent’s three-year suspension, commencing August 2, 2017.” (p.6 of the Order)
The Court of Review for Bishops is grateful for the opportunity to serve the church. We believe the decision reached in the Bishop Bruno matter is just, but no cause for celebration in any quarter. We hope the decision brings clarity to the canonical requirements by which we govern ourselves, will promote healing and reconciliation, and will be helpful to dioceses and bishops in their ministries.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Bishop of Maine
President, Court of Review for Bishops