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The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 32 : General Provisions Applicable to all Cases of Process

Paragraph 8 : Of Commissions and Coordinate Courts

32-8. When the offense with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its body, or request the coordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred to take the testimony for it. The accused shall always have reasonable notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission or coordinate court.

[DIGEST : Minor differences distinguish the current and all PCA texts from the PCUS predecessor texts, notably, the hyphenation of "co-ordinate" in the latter. That hyphenation was introduced with PCUS 1879, but was not evident in the earlier draft editions. PCA 1973 also had a comma after "occurred", where the current text does not.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS :
PCA 1973, RoD, 6-8, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 147
and
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, RoD, 6-8, Proposed text, p. 44
When the offence with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its body, or request the coordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred, to take the testimony for it. The accused shall always have reasonable notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission or coordinate court.

1. PCUS 1933, VI-§200
2. PCUS 1925, VI-§200
3. PCUS 1893, VI-8, §200
When the offence with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its body, or request the co-ordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred, to take the testimony for it. The accused shall always have reasonable notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission or co-ordinate court. [cf. PCUS Minutes, 1892, p. 419]

PCUS 1879,
Rules of Discipline, VI-8
When the offence with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its body, or request the co-ordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred, to take the testimony for it. The accused shall always have reasonable notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission.


PCUS 1869 draft, Canons of Discipline, VI-9
When the offence, with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its own body, or request the coordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred, to take the testimony for it. The accused shall always have notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission.

PCUS 1867 draft, Canons of Discipline, VI-9
When the offence with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its own body, or request the coordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred, to take the testimony for it. The accused must always have notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission.

COMMENTARY :
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order (1898, p. 198), on Rules of Discipline, VI-8:

179.--VIII. When the offence with which an accused person stands charged took place at a distance, and it is inconvenient for the witnesses to appear before the court having jurisdiction, that court may either appoint a commission of its body, or request the co-ordinate court contiguous to the place where the facts occurred, to take the testimony for it. The accused shall always have reasonable notice of the time and place of the meeting of this commission.
If the contiguous court takes the testimony, it acts as a commission of the other. It lies in the nature of the case, that the commission will be furnished with copies of the indictment and of all proceedings that it needs to be acquainted with in order to a due discharge of its commission. The reasonable notice should be given by the court, if it fixes the time and place ; otherwise, by the commission.



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