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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 31 : The Parties in Cases of Process

Paragraph 3 : Of the Accuser and the Accused

31-3. The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the Presbyterian Church in America, whose honor and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.

[DIGEST : Apart from the change in the name of the denomination, the text of BCO 31-3 remains that of PCA 1973. The original name of the denomination was the National Presbyterian Church, but due to a potential conflict with another body bearing that same name, the Second General Assembly (1974) adopted the name Presbyterian Church in America. The Proposed Book of Church Order (1973) provided a blank space for later insertion of the name of the denomination, as it was yet to be determined. Differences between these and the earlier PCUS editions boil down to the name of the denomination and a minor difference in spelling.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
PCA 1973, RoD, 5-3, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 146
The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the National Presbyterian Church, whose honor and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 5-3, Proposed text, p. 42
The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the _______________________, whose honor and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.

PCUS 1933, RoD, V-§184
and
PCUS 1925, RoD, V-§184
The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose honor and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.

PCUS 1879, RoD, V-3
and
PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, V-6

The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose honour and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, V-6
The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. This accuser is always the Presbyterian church in the United States, whose honor and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.

PCUSA 1858 draft, III-7

The original and only parties to a trial are the accuser and the accused; and in cases of prosecution by common fame, common fame, or the person representing it, is the accuser, and has, in all the courts, all the rights of an original party. These parties, in the appellate courts, are known as appellant and appellee.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
(1898, pp. 187-188), on V-3:
163.--III. The original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose honor and purity are to be maintained. The prosecutor, whether voluntary or appointed, is always the representative of the Church, and as such has all its rights in the case. In appellate courts the parties are known as appellant and appellee.
The original parties are the only parties ; for the parties are not changed by the transference of the cause from court to court. In the appellate courts the party appealing is to be known as the appellant, and the other, the appellee ; but in the court of original jurisdiction, the parties are known as accuser and accused. The accuser is always the Church ; for whether the court appoints a prosecutor, or accepts as prosecutor some one volunteering to act as prosecutor, the prosecutor is, by that appointment or acceptance, made the representative of the Church. Henceforth the prosecutor represents the Church as accuser ; the court, as judge. Of course, the court may change the personnel of the prosecutor pending the process, and the prosecutor may be more than one individual. Since the prosecutor represents the Church as accuser, having the same rights and responsibilities whether appointed or voluntary, he cannot sit as a judge pending the process. He therefore has no vote in the court, pending the process, on any question relating thereto.

W.H. Workman, Presbyterian Rule and Form of Government (1898, pp. 60-61):
[
Remark.--The prosecutor, therefore, being always a party representatively, if the accused appeals, becomes appellee, but if accused be acquited, he, the prosecutor, in that event, not being a "party against whom a decision has been rendered" (F.G. 225), cannot appeal. But he may complain, because any member of the church submitting to its authority may complain against every species of decision, except where a party against whom a decision has been rendered takes his appeal against it. (F.G. 267.) The object of the complaint is to insure that justice is done to all parties; that, on the one hand, the guilty shall not escape through a partiality of the lower courts and, on the other hand, that an injustice shall not be done to any who are willing to submit to injustice rather than to have the trouble of conducting an appeall; in either of which cases the church suffers reproach by the partiality of the court.
[The old Book of Discipline makes this very clear. "The cases in which complaint is proper and advisable are such as the following: Where the judgment of the inferior court may be favorable to the only party which has been plaed at their bar, or the judgment may do no wrong to any individual; or the party who is aggrieved by it may decline the trouble of conducting an appeal. In any of these cases no appeal is to be expected." Notice, however, that in case a complaint is taken by the prosecutor or any one else, that the parties are denominated complainant and respondent, and the party on defence is then not the original party, but the court. (Art. 245.) Yet as the accused (original) party is personally affected and interested he ought to be appointed, or, at least, permitted to nominate the respondent's representative. (See Art. 245-'46.)]

Charles Hodge, on Chapter 3, paragraph 7 of "The Revised Book of Discipline" (1858), p. 700.
The only parties to a trial are the accuser and the accused, and in appellate courts, they appear as appellant and appellee.
This is a very important section. It simplifies greatly the whole process of trial. The lower court does not appear before the
higher, in cases of appeal, as an accused party called upon to defend its decision. If a man is charged before the session with
any offence, the session decides in favour of the accuser or the accused. If either party be dissatisfied, he appeals to the Pres-
bytery, and they, i.e. the accuser and the accused, plead their cause there, and the Presbytery decides. If still not satisfied,
they plead it before the Synod, and then before the Assembly. The parties are the same from first to last. We are done, it is
to be hoped, for ever with the puzzle about “original parties.” This matter, however, will be brought up in a subsequent
chapter.



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I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
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RoD
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