JURISPRUDENCE AND DIGEST
MASONIC OFFENCES AND PUNISHMENT.
Experience has shown that Masons do not always obey the laws of the Institution, and that it sometimes becomes necessary to inflict punishment on that account.
I. MASONIC OFFENCES.
Every violation of the laws of Masonry is an offense, for which the Mason committing it may be punished. The Masonic law requires us to obey the moral law; the laws of our country; the Constitution, Regulations and well established customs of the Fraternity; and to keep our obligations; hence a violation of any of these is a Masonic offense.
While Masonry requires a belief in God and obedience to the moral law, in other respects it leaves its members freedom in their religious opinions. Therefore, while it would cutoff a member who does not believe in God or who does not obey the moral law, it takes no notice of ecclesiastical offenses.
Also, while it enjoins obedience to the civil law, it will not take cognizance of offenses against the civil law that are of a political character. So treason, the highest offense known to the civil law, cannot be punished as a Masonic offense. There are also certain other offenses against the civil law which are not Masonic crimes; when an act, prohibited by statute, involves no moral turpitude, it cannot ordinarily be punished as a Masonic offense; but when an act is prohibited by statute, as being against good public morals, or as dangerous to the life, health and good order of the community, it is an offense against Masonic law.
Nor does Masonry undertake to enforce contracts between its members, or collect debts. It is not an offense, for which a Mason can be punished, to insist upon his legal rights against a brother, even if so doing is against what seems to be justice in a particular case. But if deceit or fraud enters into the transaction, that may be punished; but the distinction must be observed between fraud or deceit and the mere breach of the contract.
II. PENAL JURISDICTION OF THE LODGE.
Every Lodge shall have original jurisdiction, except as otherwise provided, to entertain proceedings against a member thereof, and should take cognizance of Masonic offenses committed within their territorial jurisdiction by any brother, except members of lodges having concurrent jurisdiction. Cons. 49(I)
See Cons. 46,47,48,49 for exceptions to lodge jurisdiction.
III . PROCEDURE.
Whenever a brother shall be accused of any offense which, if proved, might subject him to expulsion or suspension from the rights and privileges of Masonry, the proceedings in the premises shall be conducted agreeably to the following rules;
1. The accusation shall be made in writing, with specifications of the offense, under the signature of one or more Master Masons, and delivered to the Master, who shall thereupon summon his Lodge to act upon the accusation. Cons. 49(4)(a)
2. Specifications in which the offense is alleged must be set out with a reasonable degree of precision and certainty; but the strictness of proceedings in criminal courts of law is not required. The aim must be to ascertain the true facts relevant to, and concerning, the matter of the charges, without going into hearsay, irrelevant or immaterial matters, or such as would be clearly incompetent; and it shall not be permissible to impeach a witness upon such trial, as by allowing another witness to testify that he would not believe him under oath, or that his reputation for truth and veracity is bad.
3. Only one offense can be set out in one specification. If the accused is to be charged with more than one offense, specifications covering each Masonic offense must be separately set forth.
4. Specifications of charges should not contain statements of law or evidence, but only the facts which it is alleged constitute a Masonic offense, and upon which evidence will be submitted at a hearing thereof.
5. Each specification should charge that the act complained of was done at a specified time and place; but it is not necessary to prove the time and place precisely as alleged, unless it enters into the identity of, or is an essential element in the offense. For example, an act alleged to have been committed on the first day of February may be shown to have been committed on the first day of January, and the charge be sustained; but if it should be shown that the party became a Mason after the first day of January, the date generally becomes essential, and the charge is not proved.
6. If the charge involves matter not proper to be written, it should be so stated; and the accused, at the time of his arraignment, should be orally informed of the specific facts, to which the trial must be confined.
The most frequent defect in specifications of charges is that they are not sufficiently specific. It is not sufficient to allege generally, for instance, that the accused slandered a Brother Mason; but that the name of the Brother slandered must be given, as well as the slanderous words, so that the charge will show on its face whether, if the accused used the words, he was guilty of slander or not.
The following form of a charge, and specimens of specifications, are sufficient:
To the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of ________________ Lodge, No ______ of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons:
The undersigned, a Master Mason in good standing, hereby charges Brother A. B. of ______ in the County of__________________ a member of your lodge, (or as the case may be, an unaffiliated Master Mason) (or a member of ____________________ Lodge, No__________ in the State of _____________), with (gross) unmasonic conduct, in this, viz:
Specification I. The said A. B., at ______________________________________ in the county of_________________on the____________day of
___________________ A. D., 20 , did willfully slander A. D., a Master Mason, by speaking of said A. D., in the presence of other persons, the following slanderous words, viz: (Set out the words spoken.)
Specification 2. The said A. B., at, &c., on &c., (as in first form), was guilty of drunkenness by the excessive use of intoxicating liquors.
Specification 3. The said A. B., at, &c., from the day of _______ A. D., 20 , to the present time, has been and is, a habitual drunkard, by the habitual excessive use of intoxicating liquors.
Specification 4. The said A. B., at, &c., on, &c., while wearing Masonic clothing, was intoxicated by the excessive use of intoxicating liquors
Specification 5. The said A. B., at, &c.,on &c., wronged cheated, and defrauded Bro. C. D., a Master Mason, by inducing the said C. D. to sell him, the said A. B., merchandise to the amount of fifty dollars on credit, by representing to the said C. D. that he, the said A. B., then owned the farm on which he was then living, when in fact, he did not own said farm, but was without property and unable to pay said C. D. for said merchandise whereby said C. D. lost the same and the value of the same.
Specification 6. The said A. B., at, &c., from the first day of January last past until the present time, has been and is, a common seller of intoxicating liquors, without lawful authority, in violation of the laws of the State.
Specification 7. The said A. B., at, &c., on, &c., at a
meeting of___________________________Lodge, No ________
held on said day, did by his black ball maliciously reject E. F., upon whose petition the said lodge was then balloting, with the avowed purpose of hindering the work of said lodge.
Specification 8. The said A. B., at, &c., on, &c., did speak and use towards C. D., a Master Mason, the following scandalous and insulting words, viz (Set out the words spoken.)
Specification 9. The said A. B., at, &c., on &c., did visit, as a Mason, a clandestine lodge, then and there held.
Specification 10. The said A. B., at, &c., on, &c., did reveal to one B. F., a profane the transactions of Lodge, No ____________ at its communication, held on the _______ day of ______ A. D., 19 , by making certain statements in regard to said transactions, which are not proper to be written.
(The oral statement might be that he revealed to E. F. that the Committee of Inquiry reported unfavorably upon his petition.)
Specification 11. The said A. B., at, &c., on &c., at a communication of _______________ Lodge, No___________ knowingly assisted in the initiation of one E F., who had before that time and within five years been rejected in____________________
Lodge, No________ and had never received permission from said last mentioned lodge to be initiated in any other lodge, the said A. B. then and there well knowing that said E. F. had been previously rejected as aforesaid.
Specification 12. The said A. B., at, &c., on, &c., on his petition to Lodge, No _______ to be made a Mason, falsely stated that he had not within five yeas been rejected by any other lodge, whereas in fact he had previously thereto been rejected by Lodge, No____________________ as he well knew.
Specification 13. That said A.B., at, &c., in his petition to Lodge, No_________________ to be made a Mason, stated that he then resided in the town of ___________ which was within the territorial jurisdiction of said lodge, whereas in fact he did not then reside in said town nor in the territorial jurisdiction of said lodge, as he well knew, whereby he fraudulently procured himself to be made a Mason in said lodge.
Specification 14. The said A.B., at, &c., from the first day of_________________________AD 19, to the first day of _______ A.D. 19 , was Secretary of Lodge, No______ and during that time, as such Secretary received into his hands moneys of said lodge, amounting in all to the sum of _____ dollars, and has never paid the same, nor any part thereof, over to the treasurer of said lodge, but has, without any authority therefore, converted the same to his own use, thereby defrauding said lodge of the same.
Specification 15. One E.F., upon due petition for the degree of Masonry, was, on the
day of_______ A.D. 20 , duly accepted by______________
Lodge No_______and there afterwards and before his initiation, objection was made thereto by a member of said lodge, whereby said E.F. was declared rejected, and the said AD., at, &c., on, &c., did declare the name of the member who made the objection to the initiation of said E.F.
Dated this______ day of______ A.D.20_____
C_______ D ________
If the accused is a Fellow Craft, or an Entered Apprentice, the charge must be varied accordingly.
Before the presentation of an accusation against a Brother to his Lodge it is incumbent upon the Master to ascertain if the charge or charges are signed by one or more Master Masons, and that the specifications appear to be sufficient, and allege the commission of a Masonic offense. If the specifications are insufficient in form, he should require them to be amended before presentation to the Lodge.
When a Lodge is to be convened to consider the entertainment of charges against a Brother the members of the Lodge shall be notified of the time, place and purpose of the meeting in the usual manner by the Secretary.
If the Lodge by a majority vote of its members present determine that the charges require investigation, the accusation and all papers pertaining thereto, shall be forwarded to the Recording Grand Secretary. Cons. 49(4)(b).
In the event that the Lodge by a majority vote shall decide that the information covering a charge or charges do not allege a Masonic offense, and that investigation thereof is not required, any other Lodge or any Brother aggrieved at the action taken may appeal the decision to the Grand Master, who may, in his discretion, cause the charge or charges to be transmitted to the Chairman of the Board of Trial Commissioners, and the Board shall thereafter proceed in the same manner as in an accusation regularly received. Cons. 49(4)(e).
Note: It is not incumbent upon a Lodge to give consideration in any way to the guilt or innocence of the accused, nor to hear any evidence to support charges, but merely to determine if a Masonic offense is alleged, and if so, that the same required investigation.
Lodges may, by a two thirds vote, refuse to entertain charges presented after a lapse of four years from the time of the commission of the alleged offense, unless the reasons for delay in presenting charges grow out of the absence of the accused from this jurisdiction, the absence of material witnesses or the concealment of the offense.Cons. 49 (4)(k).
IV. PENAL JURISDICTION OF THE GRAND LODGE
The trial of charges against a Mason alleging a Masonic offense shall be before a Board of Commissioners of Trials appointed annually by the Grand Master, unless in his discretion he may appoint a special Board of Commissioners.
The member first named to a Board of Commissioners shall be the Chairman thereof, and three members shall constitute a quorum. A single Commissioner may take testimony. In the absence of the Chairman at the hearing of any cause, the members present shall elect a Chairman pro tempore. Cons. 49(2).
The Grand Master may appoint a Past Master of a Lodge to be styled Judge Advocate, and delegate to him
such duties as may be appropriate and in the interest of the Fraternity at the hearing of any cause. Cons. 49(3).
V. PROCEDURE COMMISSIONERS OF TRIVALS
Upon receipt by the Chairman of a Board of Commissioners of Trials of an information charging a Mason with unmasonic conduct, he shall cause the accused to be served with an attested copy of the charges, and a summons to appear at a time and place named in said summons, to make such answer to the charges and accusations as he may desire.
The summons shall be served upon the accused fourteen days, at least, before the return day thereof. The accused may appear in person, or by filing an answer to the charges in writing.Cons. 49(4)(c).
If the residence of the accused be unknown, the Commissioners may proceed to examine the charges and accusation Bx Parte; but if known and out of the State, a summons shall be sent him, by mail or otherwise, thirty days, at least before the time appointed for his appearance before the Board. The service and return thereof shall be according to regulations to be made by the Commissioners, and, when so made, shall be conclusive. Cons. 49 (4)(d).
When a member of a Lodge in this jurisdiction shall be convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of an offense involving moral turpitude and accusation shall not be made against him therefore in the Lodge, the Grand Master shall prefer an information concerning said conviction and cause the same to be transmitted to the Chairman of the Commissioners of Trials. The Board of Commissioners of Trials shall proceed in such cases as upon an accusation regularly received. Cons. 49(4) (f)
The trial of a cause shall be had at a convenient place and time to be designated by the Commissioners, and due notice shall be given all persons concerned.Cons. 49(4)(g).
A Brother on trial before a Board of Trial Commissioners is entitled to be represented by counsel of his choice, who shall be a member of the Fraternity, and duly authorized by the Commission. Also any Brother duly authorized may appear as counsel in support of, or in opposition to, charges against a Brother during the taking of testimony and in the argument of the cause. Cons. 49(4)(i).
No visitors shall be admitted except as counsel or witnesses.
Witnesses, if Masons, shall testify on their honor as such. Other witnesses shall be duly sworn before their testimony is taken. Cons. 49 (4)(g).
A Commissioner designated to hear a cause has the power to issue a summons to any member of the Fraternity then being or residing within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Maine, commanding him to appear at a designated Lime and place to testify as a witness.Cons. 49(4) (h).
A summons may be served by copy delivered in hand by such officer or member of the Fraternity as may be designated by the Commissioner issuing the same, or by registered mail. Witnesses summoned or appearing at the request of a Board of Commissioners of Trials, or of a single Commissioner, shall be paid their actual necessary traveling expenses. Cons. 49(4)(h).
All testimony taken at a hearing before a Board of Trial Commissioners, or by a single Commissioner when duly authorized shall be reduced to writing, signed by the witness at the conclusion of his testimony, and be preserved as a part of the trial record.
A Brother appearing in a proceeding against him for unmasonic conduct must either object to each charge or plead thereto. An objection to a charge is a statement in writing, signed by the accused or by his counsel, and entered of record. Objections may be that the statements of the charge are true, but are not a triable Masonic offense, or that the Lodge had nonjurisdiction to entertain and file the charges. If the information does not state a Masonic offense the objection should be sustained.
If the accused does not appear at the trial in person, or by counsel, or file in writing a plea in proper form the Chairman of the Board shall cause a plea of not guilty to be entered in his behalf, and shall appoint some qualified Brother to act for him as counsel, whose duty it shall be to see that the rights of the accused are observed, and his defense, if any, properly made. Provided, however, that if the Brother appointed as counsel for the accused shall determine that only a plea of guilty can be entertained, no trial is necessary.
It is not competent for a Board of Commissioners of Trials, or a single Commissioner, to call the accused as a witness, but the accused may if he so elects be a witness in his own behalf. In such case it shall then be competent for any member of the Commissioners to examine him fully as to all the particulars of the case, whether touched upon in his examination or otherwise.
In case of witness whose testimony is considered material cannot attend a hearing before a Board of Trial Commissioners, or a single Commissioner, a deposition may be taken and admitted as evidence. Reasonable notice of the time and place where a deposition is to be taken shall be given in writing by the person appointed to take the same, and all persons concerned with their counsel may be present. The customary mode of taking depositions for use in courts of law shall be followed.
Other than the procedure herein before set forth the manner of conducting Masonic Trials involving suspension or expulsion shall be under the direction of the Board of Commissioners of Trials, subject to the rules of Masonic law and practice, and such regulations as are from time to time established by the Grand Lodge of Maine.
The Board of Commissioners of Trials shall submit to the Grand Master a report signed by the Commissioners acting in each case setting forth the proceedings had and a summary of the facts in each case, including their finding and recommendation in sufficient time to permit him to submit the same to the Committee on Grievances and Appeals at least seven days before the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge at which it is to be presented.Cons.49 (4) ( i).
After consideration of the findings of the Commissioners of Trials, and of the recommendation of the Committee on Grievances and Appeals the Grand Lodge shall render judgment.
In all cases of conviction and punishment the judgment shall remain in force until reversed, set aside, or modified by the Grand Lodge.
A Mason expelled by the Grand Lodge of Maine loses his membership in the Order. A Mason suspended by the Grand Lodge of Maine loses absolutely his membership in any Lodge in this jurisdiction in which he holds membership, and his status becomes that of an unaffiliated Mason.
A petition for restoration of a Mason expelled or suspended by the Grand Lodge of Maine shall only be entertained if presented in writing, and filed in the office of the Grand Secretary, not less than sixty days before the date of the annual communication of the Grand Lodge at which its consideration is requested and restoration upon such a petition shall not take effect until confirmed by the Grand
Lodge. Provided, however, that before action shall be taken by the Grand Lodge upon a petition for restoration, a copy thereof shall be filed at a stated communication of the lodge of which the petitioner was formerly a member, lay over until the next stated communication and a favorable recommendation made thereon to the Grand Lodge.
Whenever the Grand Lodge shall release a Mason from a penalty of expulsion or suspension, he shall not thereby be restored to membership within any lodge of which he was formerly a member without its consent expressed by an unanimous ballot.
If a lodge of which an expelled or suspended Mason was formerly a member has ceased to exist, a petition for restoration may be made direct to the Grand Lodge, on a favorable recommendation made thereon by five or more Master Masons in good standing. Cons. 57.
The Grand Lodge shall hear all appeals upon the record as sent up, unless for special reasons it shall determine to hear other testimony; and, according to its immemorial usage, may confirm, modify or reverse the proceedings appealed from, and it may give such final judgment and sentence as it deems just. Cons. 53.
VII. TRIAL FOR NONPAYMENT OF DUES.
No lodge shall suspend or expel a member from the rights of Masonry for nonpayment of dues. The penalty of such delinquency shall be forfeiture or suspension of membership. The member shall be notified of the charges, and summoned to appear at a time and place to be named in said summons, and make such answer as he may desire. The summons shall be served upon the member, either in person or by registered or certified mail at his last known address, fourteen days at least before the date of the hearing. If, however, the residence of the brother be unknown, the lodge may proceed to trial BX PARTh: but if known and out of the state, notice and summons shall be sent him by registered mail, certified mail, or otherwise, thirty days at least before the date appointed for hearing.
A brother suspended from membership for nonpayment of dues will be restored by the payment or remission of the amount due at the time of his suspension at any time within three years thereafter but after that time he can be restored only upon his application, after payment or remission of the amount in arrears which shall take the same course as an application for initiation, and if rejected said applicant shall not again petition until six months after the rejection. Cons. 51.
Any member, who under the bylaws of his Lodge, is in arrears for dues may be cited to appear and show cause why he should not be suspended from, or deprived of, membership for such neglect.
Delinquent members shall be reported by the Secretary to the Lodge at a stated communication and in substantially the following form:
To the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of Lodge, No of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons:
The following brethren, viz:
A_______ B ______________
C_______ D _____________
E_______ F __________
are more than_____ months (t time fixed by the bylaws) in arrears of dues.
Dated this____ day of______ A.D.20___
If the bylaws of a lodge fix no time in which arrears of dues forfeit membership, the form of the charge submitted to the lodge by the secretary must be varied as follows:
To the Worshipful Master. Wardens and Brethren of _______ Lodge No _____ of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons:
The following brethren, viz:
A____________ B _____________
C____________ D _____________
E____________ F ______________
are more than____ months (actual time) in arrears of dues, and have unreasonably, and in violation of their duty as members of the lodge, neglected and refused to pay the same.
Dated this_____ day of______ A.D.19___
Upon receiving a report of delinquent brethren the Worshipful Master will direct the Secretary to give notice to each delinquent that he is more than___________ months in arrears of dues, and cite him to appear at a stated communication of the lodge to be held at a time named (and the time may be different for each one), to show cause why he should not be dealt with therefor.
The following or similar form of notice may be used:
_____________ Lodge No _______ A. F.& A.
To Brother _________________ ____________________
You are hereby notified that your dues to
Lodge, No____A. F. & A. M., amounting to $ ______ due_________ 19____ are unpaid and delinquent
You were requested on __ 19__ and 19______ to pay them and as yet no payment has been made. Your failure to jiquidate your indebtedness to the Lodge renders you liable to suspension from or deprivation of, membership as the Lodge after due trial may decide. I have regretfully to notify you that you are hereby cited to appear at a communication of the Lodge to be held on the________ day of ________ A.D.19 _____ at_______ 0 clock in the evening, to show cause, if any you have, why you should not be dealt with for your default. Dated this___________ day of __________
AD. 19 ____
By order of the Worshipful Master
Payment of the amount of your indebtedness before the time cited for your appearance before the Lodge to answer the charge of default will void this notice.
The service of this notice and the proof thereof shall be in the following form:
I____________ secretary of_______ Lodge,
hereby certify that I served the original of the notice ordered to be served on Brother ___________________ by enclosing the same in an envelope addressed to him at________________ his last known place of address, and delivering said envelope to the postmaster at___________________ for registration with postage paid, on _________ 19 _______
At the communication stated in the notice, the lodge should determine whether sufficient notice had been given, and then proceed to determine the cases. The Secretary reads the charge, and the name of the Brother first on the list who has had proper notice as shown by his certificate on file and states how long he is in arrears. The Master calls upon the delinquent, or, in his absence, upon the Brethren, to state if there is any cause why the penalty should not be inflicted. Payment of the dues is, of course, good cause; and for reasons satisfactory to itself, the lodge may remit all or a part of the dues, or give further time for payment; or it may suspend the delinquent from membership, or deprive him of it, as appears for the best interest of the Lodge and the Fraternity. A majority vote of the members present is necessary to suspend from, or deprive a Brother from membership.
If action upon the delinquency of a Brother is postponed until a later communication of the lodge the formality of a new notice citing him to appear need not be made, but he should be informally advised of the postponement.
Any action suspending from or depriving a Brother of membership in a Lodge, without proper notice having been served upon him, when his address was on file, is void, and it will be the duty of the Master to order his name restored to the rolls, without a petition or vote.
The question has been raised whether the delinquent has the right, by a partial payment of the amount overdue, to save forfeiting his membership; and while it has not been decided by the Grand Lodge, the better opinion seems to be that before the filing of the charges in the Lodge he may do so, but afterwards he cannot without the permission thereof. Action as to partial payment of arrearages, however, is wholly within the discretion of the lodge.
A Brother suspended or deprived of membership for the nonpayment of dues may appeal to the Grand Lodge, but such appeal is limited to reversing the decision of the lodge on irregular procedure, or for errors in matters of law.
Although no case has arisen in this State in which application for a new trial has been made to the Grand Lodge, yet there is no doubt of the power of the Grand Lodge to grant one before the case has been finally decided. Such application would be granted for any cause, on account of which the party, without his own fault, did not have a full trial, such as a failure to obtain the testimony by absence of witnesses, the discovery of new evidence, and the like.
IX. PROCEEDINGS FOR NONPAYMENT OF DUES.
Under our Constitution, the only penalties for nonpayment of dues are suspension from or deprivation of membership. When the former is inflicted, the Brother is restored by the mere payment or remission of the dues which had accrued at the time of suspension at any time within three years thereafter; but after that time he can be restored only upon his application, after payment or remission of the amount in arrears; which shall take the same course as an application for initiation. When the latter is inflicted, the Brother must pay the arrears of dues before he can apply for membership; upon such payment he can apply for restoration but his petition must take the usual course and he must abide the result of the ballot.
Neither of these penalties can he inflicted without giving notice to the delinquent, and an opportunity to be heard. Yet the proceedings are simple. The Secretary makes a statement in writing, which is in the nature of a charge. Sec. 51.
INCORPORATION OF “TRUSTEES OF THE CHARITY FUND.”
The law of our Grand Lodge forbids the incorporation of Lodges. Yet a Corporation of some kind is necessary when the Lodge desires to own a hall or has a fund, and is convenient for holding the title of its library and the usual furniture and clothing, especially for the purpose of insurance.
Therefore, if any Lodge wishes to incorporate its Trustees, either for their Charity Fund or for a Building Fund, please contact the Grand Lodge office.
To organize a corporation, legal counsel should be consulted.
DIGEST OF DECISIONS
GRAND LODGE OF MAINE A.F & A.M.
No decisions are included within this edition of the Maine Masonic Text Book. The revised “Digest of Decisions” can be purchased with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Grand Lodge of Maine or they can be purchased separately.
The Digest of Decisions should be examined in conjunction with the Constitution and Standing Regulations in determining all the Maine Masonic law on a given subject.