The Scientology Justice
system is the Church of Scientology
's internal means of assessing and dealing with violations of their code of ethics
. These violations include those outside of the Church as well as within it.
The Scientology Handbook, a compilation of texts by founder L. Ron Hubbard, says "When the individual fails to put in his own ethics, the group takes action against him and this is called justice" and also notes that "Man cannot be trusted with justice. The truth is, man cannot really be trusted with 'punishment'."
Committee of Evidence
A committee of evidence is usually referred to by the abbreviated term, "Comm Ev" and is a tribunal
that deals with serious offenses. According to Scientology policy, the comm ev is only convened at a church member's request or when there is evidence of serious wrongdoing by a church member.
Administratively, the comm ev is initiated by a convening authority, usually the LRH Communicator of the organization. This person does so at the request, usually, of another church executive who makes formal accusations of violations of church ethics
codes. A chairman
, a secretary
, and two to five other members are chosen by the convening authority who must be "senior" to the accused . Their task is to read and hear evidence for and against the accused church member. They have two weeks to complete the comm ev. Comm ev policy explicitly bars any legal representation for the accused.
After reviewing evidence, the secretary and members vote on whether they think the accused church member is guilty or not guilty of each of the presented charges. Conviction on a charge is by majority vote. The comm ev then recommends punishment, which in principle, must be done in accordance with L. Ron Hubbard's policies. The outcome of a comm ev is issued in a document called the "Findings and Recommendations". All comm ev members must sign this document whether they agree with it or not. The only means of recourse are: A review comm ev, where the committee is supposed to just listen to the recordings and review the documents of the original comm ev, then issue new Findings and Recommendations, a petition by the accused church member to have the comm ev cancelled, which is directed to an executive highly-placed in the church hierarchy or a Board of Review in which the charges are reviewed by newly appointed comm ev members. Both the Board of Review and the Review Committee of Evidence have the option of making new recommendations.
The Comm Ev in practice
In a lecture given on 2 August 1970, Hubbard admitted that Comm Evs were very unpopular with Scientologists: "..This, of course, requires something that is very unpopular, which is a comm ev.
Comm ev members face being comm ev'd themselves if the convening authority believes they were not aggressive enough in pursuit of the comm ev findings.
Court of Ethics
A court of ethics is convened by an ethics officer or church executive senior to the church staff member being charged. The offenses being accused are of non-serious nature and the sentences are at the discretion of the person who convened the court of ethics. The court is not supposed to engage in investigation, but rather operate only on known evidence.
List of source references
Note - HCOPL is an abbreviation for Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, the senior administrative policies of the Church of Scientology.
- HCOPL 7 September 1963, Committees of Evidence, Scientology Jurisprudence, Administration of
- HCOPL 22 September 1963, Concerning Committees of Evidence
- HCOPL 7 February 1965, Keeping Scientology Working Series 1
- HCOPL 24 February 1965, Addendum to HCO Policy Letter of 7 Sept. 63 Committees of Evidence, Scientology Jurisprudence, Administration of
- HCOPL 26 May 1965, Courts of Ethics
- HCOPL 17 July 1966 Issue II, Evidence, Admissibility of in Hearings, Boards or Committees
- HCOPL 7 March 1965RB Issue I, revised 8 January 1991, Suppressive Acts Suppression of Scientology and Scientologists
- HCOPL 24 February 1972, Injustice
- 700802-1 A Short Briefing to Guardians Office Technical Personnel, 23 minutes into the lecture