Silver Spring, Md. October 26, 2016 – North American Division (NAD) leaders were given the opportunity to be part of a mock trial at the annual NAD Presidents’ Symposium on Wednesday, October 26.
The annual event, sponsored by Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM), is a risk management training session for all NAD presidents. Each year, the Symposium discusses the most recent risks Adventist ministries are facing.
This year attending presidents served as jury members during a mock trial created by ARM. The mock trial discussed a hypothetical lawsuit involving an Adventist elementary school teacher who was terminated for her inability to effectively communicate with parents and for an incident of corporal punishment among other allegations. The fictional teacher sued the fictitious conference claiming gender discrimination and retaliation.
Bob Burrow, ARM chief legal officer, wrote the hypothetical lawsuit and served as defense attorney for the mock trial. Jennifer Gray, associate general counsel for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist world church, played the role of the plaintiff's attorney. Other actors included ARM staff.
Following the mock trial, the attending presidents were asked to discuss the witnesses’ testimonies and the presented evidence in order to decide if the fired teacher should receive compensation, including a jury awarded settlement for emotional distress.
“We wanted to give our church leaders a firsthand look at the legal issues that today’s church can encounter,” said Tim Northrop, ARM president and CEO. “This mock trial allowed the attending presidents to take part in the decision-making process that a jury faces, and provided them with more knowledge and experience for the next time they deal with lawsuits.”
Retired judge Judith Hawkins held court for the mock trial and concluded the exercise with an appeal to the attendees to be proactive in their legal preparation for potential lawsuits and in risk management practices. She especially emphasized the importance of getting rid of 15-passenger vans in the conferences, one of the risk management initiatives for NAD in 2017.
Attendee Thoughts on the 2016 NAD Presidents' Symposium:
“It was very interactive and engaging,” said Leslie Louis, Carolina Conference president. “The topics were excellent and very practical, meeting us where we deal with issues.”
“The trial was incredibly intriguing, informative and captivating,” said Cliff Jones, Lake Region Conference president. “The discussed topics were very relevant and quite helpful.”
For information on risk management best practices, visit AdventistRisk.org.