Libertarian Party Judicial Committee Affirms Suspension of LNC Secretary

By a vote of 4 to 2 to 1, the Judicial Committee (a body elected by delegates at convention; independent of the LNC, and tasked with resolving disputes within the Party), has, following an appeal by the LNC secretary, affirmed the decision of the Libertarian National Committee to suspend its secretary, former IPR contributor Caryn Ann Harlos.  The suspension thus becomes a removal.  The LNC now expected to conduct a search for, vetting of, and then vote on a replacement.

In the interim LNC treasurer Tim Hagan has assumed the duties of secretary, in addition to those of treasurer.

The LNC’s next in-person meeting is scheduled for Boston the weekend of 04 December 2021.  Details HERE.

Dr. Mary Ruwart, chair of the Judicial Committee, was not immediately available for comment.

The full 58 page Judicial Committee Ruling, with various opinion statements some with dissents, others with concurrences, by each member of the committee, including the one abstention, can be read HERE.

Prior comments from IPR readers regarding the 05 September 2021 LNC vote to suspend, and the 17 October 2021 Judicial Committee hearing can be found in the September IPR Open Thread HERE.

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About Joseph Buchman

Joe is a retired, formerly tenured professor of marketing and finance with an interest in adventure travel, chasing total solar eclipses, and Burning Man. He is a long-time volunteer with the Sundance Film Festival, former Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party and current Chair of the financial Audit Committee of the Libertarian Party. He and Cindy, his wife of over 25 years, have raised four highly successful children, several cats, and have generally failed with every houseplant ever gifted to them.

25 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Judicial Committee Affirms Suspension of LNC Secretary

  1. Jared

    Thank you for the article.

    I’m most interested to read Moulton’s opinion and Ruwart’s dissent. Both of them are highly educated and intelligent, well respected, seasoned Libertarians of integrity. It’s hard to imagine even Caryn Ann Harlos inveighing against Chuck Moulton. Still, I’m sure his name was just added to her long naughty list of shameful, fallen Libertarians to discredit before Reno.

    I cannot understand or agree with Arnold’s abstention. The JC doesn’t see much action as it is. Its purpose is to make these calls. It isn’t some kind of super-LNC, so this decision wasn’t to judge whether the suspension motion was a good idea. Either the LNC adhered to the bylaws and followed proper procedure, or they did not. If they did, then vote to affirm. If they didn’t, then vote to overturn. If there’s a conflict of interest, then recuse yourself. But there’s no legitimate reason to abstain as far as I can tell. That’s just my $0.02.

  2. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Jared,

    See the link in the updated post.

    Or cut and paste this

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/JC-Opinion-in-the-Matter-of-the-JC-Appeal-of-Secretary-Harlos.pdf

    I recommend starting with here though, at page 22

    OPINION OF VERMIN SUPREME

    “Sure, Vermin, run for a spot on the judicial committee”, they said.
    “It will give the appearance that you’re engaged with the party”, they said.
    “It will burnish your reputation as a serious person”, they said.
    “It will be good for your resume”, they said.

    “Don’t worry, it is a do nothing position” , they said.
    “The JC almost never even meets”, they said.
    “It’s an honor”, they said.

    I said, “Sure, I could be a judge, I mean if Jim Grey can do it, why not me?”
    “Being a judge is cool, I guess”, I said.
    “Ummm. Ok, fine, make me a judge then”, I said.

    Then the people spoke.

    And the rest, as they said, was history.
    And this is that history.

    Let me say this particular case was indeed, extremely notable for its total lack of ponies.
    It was, however, chock full of bylaws.

    Normally that would be enough to lose my attention, right there.

    This case was also chock full of drama.

    Normally that would be enough to send me tiptoeing out of the room.

    However as a duly elected judge, it was my duty to stay in that dramatic room and pay very close
    attention.
    Close attention, I did pay, to a vast array of ‘evidence’ and opinions, testimony and deliberations.

    This case was not about drama.
    It was about bylaws.

    Bylaws > drama.

    Case closed.

    Bangs gavel.

    (Cue dramatic closing music.)

    Thank you,

    Judge Vermin

  3. D. Frank Robinson

    What has become clear in the Harlos controversy is that in the LP’s disciplinary procedures the Bylaws must remove any presumption or deference to either party in appeals to the Judicial Committee. Placing a presumptive burden on either appellants or respondents prejudices the members of the JC. That phraseology must go.
    Unlike in government criminal courts where there is a presumption of innocence for the defendant, in party discipline there is no need for any presumptions either way because the LP does not put anyone in jeopardy of “life or limb.”
    I am known as a co-founder of the Libertarian Party. I chaired the Constitution, Bylaws and Rules Committee at the founding convention. I am currently a member of the LP Judicial Committee.

  4. D. Frank Robinson

    Let me attempt a Reader’s Digest version of my opinion in the Harlos appeal.
    I think the LNC acted within the Bylaws for suspending the Secretary. But they did not act within the Bylaws and RONR by making a suspension indefinite and therefore a stealth removal. Removal requires all the due process of Chapter XX of the 12th edition of RONR including under the Bylaws an appeal to the JC from Chapter XX “conviction”.
    The LNC’s deceptive action should have been repudiated by the JC on due process grounds alone.
    Unfortunately, my colleagues adopted the LNC distortion of the meaning of the word suspension as permanent rather than as a temporary action (common usage). This biased redefinition of suspension cannot be intellectual incompetence.
    Look up the word suspension in your own dictionaries.

  5. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Frank,

    What is the process that you designed (or intended to have happen going forward) in 1972?

    Is it that the 1) LNC votes to suspend, 2) then a Chapter XX trial, then if convicted, 3) a review by the Judicial Committee? Is the requirement for conviction in a Chapter XX trial a simple majority?

    Or is the process you designed 1) LNC votes to suspend, 2) then JC PROCESS review, 3) then trial, then 4) JC CAUSE review (I believe Moulton characterized your view as one requiring 4 steps)?

    As the LP By-Laws require more than 51 percent of the body vote to suspend, do you see that impacting the relevance of Chapter XX here which I believe only requires a simple majority?

    (If our bylaws required only a simple majority, the former secretary would have almost certainly been suspended some time ago, yes?)

    (Simply put if 2/3rds of the people elected by the delegates no longer want to work with someone in the remaining 1/3rd, for whatever reason, should not the will of the delegates as expressed by the election of those 2/3rds of the body have equivalent weight? Additionally with the LNC acting as a jury no matter what part of the process above is followed, there can be no presumption of innocence – they have to vote to get to be a jury first.)

  6. D. Frank Robinson

    Joseph,
    Here is the relevant verbatim from the 1972 Bylaws: Article 4 Section 10. An officer may be suspended, that is, denied the authority to perform his specific functions, by a two-thirds vote of the Executive Committee. The office of a suspended officer shall be declared vacant unless the suspended officer appeals his suspension to the Judiciary Committee within three days of suspension. The Executive Committee shall appoint new officers if vacancies or suspensions occur, such officers to complete the term of the office vacated, or the time during which the suspension is in effect, as applicable.

    N B: “or the time during which the suspension is in effect, as applicable.” This phrase makes clear a suspension was temporary and revocable. Suspensions created vacancies automatically if, only if, the suspension was not appealed within three days. However, if appealed, the vacancy was also temporary until the JC rendered a decision. If the appellant prevailed in their appeal obviously they would resume their office and functions.
    As for the rest of your query, you can consult the 10th Edition of RONR.
    Much verbiage intended to clarify procedures was added subsequently. I cannot address the thinking of those many delegates in adopting the changes.

  7. Susan Hogarth

    “ … the Judicial Committee, an independent sub-committee of the Libertarian National Committee …”

    This is incorrect. The JC is a committee populated by the Convention, not a subcommittee of the LNC. If it was a subcommittee it would be populated by members of the LNC.

  8. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Frank –

    That language seems clear to me – suspension is temporary because it goes to the JC where it either becomes reinstatement or removal. There is no permanent suspension in that.

    I don’t see in that process direction or authority for a RONR XX trial. And if the “jury” is one that just voted by 2/3rds against the appellant, then it would also seem a rather pointless, needlessly punitive endeavor. Equivalent to a Grand Jury also serving as the trial jury. (Something the former Soviet Union and equivalent nation-states today practice though, I believe.)

    And I asked if you could, please, let me know what was designed (intended) in 1972 that did not happen here.

    1) 2/3rds of LNC votes for suspension.

    2) office is suspended (not vacant/no replacement)

    and then what? No appeal to the JC, but a RONR trial in an LNC that just voted by 2/3rds?

    Is that what was designed in 1972?

    I am asking sincerely. Whatever difference we may have on this, I am keenly interested in the history of what happened in 1972 (and after) that you see this JC as having violated/failed to follow.

    Thanks (and call or email if you would prefer; my contact info is in the ABOUT section link at the top of this page).

    Joe

  9. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Susan,

    Independent of the LNC wasn’t clear enough so I’ve edited the original post. Perhaps it’s not a sub-committee either, but one equivalent to the LNC status, but with very limited authority?

    Let me know if the revised language above is accurate.

  10. Susan Hogarth

    I don’t think suspension is temporary; it doesn’t automatically go to the JC. It has to be appealed by the person suspended for that to happen.

  11. D. Frank Robinson

    In the Bylaws until 1983 the discipline of all members was required to be in accordance with RONR. It got deleted for reasons unknown. Perhaps some argued it was redundant to the provision making RONR the parliamentary authority, but that is only my most generous guess.

  12. Jared

    I’d assumed suspension is the first stage in the removal process, where the ousted person is suspended until the window to file an appeal closes or until the JC rules on their appeal (and the appellant is either removed, i.e. effectively no longer “suspended,” or reinstated). So, while this suspension was not assigned a definite time period or number of meetings, being contingent and transitional it still qualifies. That’s how I understood it. But I see how language of the JC “affirming suspension” might suggest suspension in fact refers to permanent removal.

  13. D. Frank Robinson

    Susan, the universally accepted definitions of “suspension” all include the attribute of temporary. It is how the temporary is terminated with what consequences that is disputed. Redefining temporary as not temporary is foolishness.

  14. D. Frank Robinson

    The original 1974 Bylaws and up until 1983 included this provision:
    ARTICLE XII
    JUDICIAL COMMITTEE
    In addition to the responsibilities set forth in Articles IV arid X, the Judicial Committee shall be responsible for the following:
    Section 1.
    Disciplinary actions against any Party member shall be in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order except as otherwise provided herein by the Party Constitution.
    The “except” was suspensions and only suspensions. Suspensions were never to be terminations or removals UNLESS the person suspended declined to appeal. In other words, resigned by default.

  15. Joseph Buchman Post author

    D. Frank,

    “UNLESS the person suspended declined to appeal.”

    I gather this is the part where you see that appeal as going back to the LNC, now to act as a jury (and one which by at least 2/3rds voted to suspend), and that the appeal should not go to the Judicial Committee.

    Is that what you’re saying was the intent in 1972?

    Could you please say what you believe the process should be after step 1) LNC by two-thirds (minus the member charged), votes to suspend. 2) if the suspended member does not appeal, then the suspension is removal.

    If the suspended member appeals then

    1) who do they appeal to? LNC or JC?

    2) if convicted and removed, then it goes to the JC?

    Is that what your position is?

  16. Jared

    If suspension is for a definite number of days, then why would declining to file an appeal be taken as a de facto resignation? The member would simply be reinstated whenever their suspension was up, rather than sooner by the JC ruling in their favor. The only way declining to appeal could be interpreted as ‘resigning’ is if the LNC intended suspension to result in removal. Am I missing something? Ms. Harlos had been suspended—removed pending appeal. As her JC appeal was unsuccessful, she is no longer merely suspended but fully removed.

  17. Jared

    Coming from another angle, can suspension extend “to the end of the term,” in other words, de facto removal? Does there have to be a cut-off before the next convention? In that case, suspension may still be regarded as temporary even after a failed appeal, but on the flipside anyone stepping into the position must also be considered a temporary fill-in.

    To my knowledge, though, the appellant’s argument was not that the motion to suspend was in bad form because it failed to provide an end date, but rather that RONR disciplinary procedure applies even to well formed LNC suspension motions and she was denied due process on that basis.

  18. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Jared,

    I believe the bylaws state that once suspended the suspended member has X days to appeal to the JC. If the suspended member chooses not to appeal to the JC, then the bylaws state the office/position is vacated (in effect a resignation/removal). I don’t have the LP bylaws at hand, but I’m sure some IPR reader does and can verify or correct my impression.

    It seems to me that those who designed the process in 1972 did not anticipate a RONR XX trial as they set a high bar for suspension – a supermajority.

    Nor did they anticipate any kind of “trial” – if a supermajority agree to suspend – a supermajority of close working colleagues, not a randomly selected jury – a trial would seem (at least to me) to be at best repetitive.

    As for the “will of the delegates” – the “will of the delegates” is clearly for these PEOPLE TO WORK TOGETHER.

    When 2/3rds say that is not happening, it’s probably a wise decision for the one suspended to accept that as an expression of the will of the delegates. At least that’s how I feel having been a delegate a few times, and as someone who less than a year ago the former Secretary accused, during an unrecorded, secret Executive Session of the LNC, of various crimes – slander, elder abuse, and putting her “safety” at risk should I choose to attend an LNC meeting in person. These memorialized in various emails after that meeting. (God knows what else was actually said during it.)

    All . . . total . . . crap.

    So after that trial I was put on during executive session (one where I did not have a right to face my accuser, or offer a defense, or even hear the charges beforehand), I did attend in person both the LNC meeting in Minneapolis last year and the Chicago one earlier this year. The elder abuse charge was especially hurtful, so I shared it with the “victim” Elizabeth Nolan, who then asked to speak to the LNC by phone. That’s all on the record now. Others can judge the slanderous accusations on their own. Or call Elizabeth themselves. Emily Goldberg certainly should.

    This idea that a RONO “trial” might uncover new evidence that would cause LNC members who had been working with this individual (or trying to) to change their minds and vote differently is disingenuous at best.

    As is, IMO, D Frank Robinson who has repeatedly declined requests to state explicitly what process he designed in 1972, that the LNC has failed to execute properly.

    Meanwhile David Nolan’s personal papers are about to be shipped to the Library of Congress. That is preservation of our history.

    If I am the “psychopath who stole party property by abusing David Nolan’s widow so I could betray all our principles by donating them to the feds” . . . then I’ll take that spot over being a monetizing, drama maximizing for audience acquisition YouTuber who has created a so called “Libertarian Party Historical Committee” which is more accurately, in my view, characterized as a “YouTube Channel Content Acquisition Committee” with said content not stored in the party’s facility in Denver, but a private home.

    And, yes, I’d still like the LIBERSIGN stamp and ink pad that belonged to David Frasier Nolan, as well as other items returned so they can be reunited before shipping to DC.

    As for charges of bias (a “bias” by me against the former officer) – it’s like someone who destroys something you cherish, and then claims victimhood because of your anger or sadness against/at them, your reasonable and just demand for restitution is mischaracterized as a threat, or unhinged demand, while others, not knowing the full story, join in support of this false victimhood claim, due to having been kept ignorant by the perpetrator of the precipitating causes.

    The LNC and Judicial Committee did the right thing here, IMO. Those who did not support this action, I see as mostly misinformed/not yet attacked.

  19. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    If the suspension is permanent, does this mean that a future convention of delegates is barred from electing Harlos to a new term on the LNC?

    Are not the delegates the supreme rulers of the LP? Do they thus not have the right to override the LNC’s suspension at some future convention by reelecting Harlos?

  20. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Of course they do.

    Just as 2/3rds of a newly elected LNC could suspend (anyone else) on the LNC as well, and then that suspension could become either a removal or a reinstatement by the JC, if the suspended member appealed.

    Delegates elect members of the board to “work together” – when 2/3rds of that board see that as impossible there is a process.

    As far as your question goes though, the LNC could also elect ANYONE as the new Secretary at their meeting in Boston (or before/after). That would include the recently removed one.

    So, your point is well made; there is no permanent suspension, there never was, there never can be.

    Or so it seems to me.

  21. Jared

    Well, according to Ms. Harlos, until Reno she remains LNC Secretary because the likewise duly elected LNC super-majority that ousted her conducted an illegitimate vote on an illegitimate motion under an illegitimate Chair that was illegitimately affirmed by an incompetent JC. No matter what any party committee has decided, she is still the one and only Secretary because the delegates elected her alone, and no corrupt body can steal her rightful title away from her….

    She is persecuted by evildoers because she “whistleblew” on JBH, because she dared to criticize her colleagues over COVID, because she’s a radical, because she’s Mises-friendly, because she’s religious, because she’s a woman, because she’s “disabled,” because her critics are hypocrites and soyboys who can’t handle a little scrutiny, because anyone who doesn’t side with her is a morally bankrupt faux libertarian. (Certainly not because she’s a histrionic, vindictive, violently profane psychic vampire who engorges herself on party drama and character assassination binges.)

    A mentally well person would move on, but the crusade must continue. Her identity and moral purpose in life are bound to her involvement in this party. Somehow she has convinced herself that it isn’t about her wanting desperately to keep her position, that it’s her outstanding altruism keeping this fight alive. It’s about the delegates and, according to a heated post-verdict email exchange with Chuck Moulton and the JC, even about allowing the LNC to save face. She’s so selfless and so courageously principled that she refuses to recognize her removal.

    I don’t believe Ms. Harlos is being dishonest. I believe she’s in tragic denial. I could be wrong, but I doubt the delegates, however, are credulous enough to believe this saga is 100% about honoring their choice and not about her craving for existential security.

  22. D. Frank Robinson

    I have not refused to explain anything I recall from our committee proceedings in 1972. I simply have other matters in life to attend to, medical appointments, etc.
    The Committee did not want any offices to be vacant too long. They wanted business to be conducted uninterrupted as little as possible, YET also give individuals ample opportunity to defend themselves and possibly rally support from the delegates who elected them.
    The compromise solution was to allow the LNC to temporarily remove an officer who could be doing something illegal or destructive like shredding records. Hence, a suspension. But once exposed, the person suspended might simply refuse to appeal and quietly go away.
    However, if the suspended person did appeal that signaled they believed they had a meritorious defense. The JC would decide if they had overcome the allegations in their suspension and restore them to office or not.
    Nothing in this provision for a suspension was intended to replace, substitute or preempt RONR procedures for permanent elimination of the person from office. On the contrary, such a drastic action as termination of an delegate elected person from the national committee was intended to be by a documented process which the national committee could use to defend its actions at a future convention, that is, by RONR.
    I know one thing for damn sure: no one imagined redefining the word suspension from a temporary condition to a terminal condition without other intervening actions by the person or the national committee.
    I understand this is inconvenient for persons fifty years later, but it is the delegates who should change the Bylaws not the LNC or the JC.

  23. Joseph Buchman Post author

    D. Frank,

    Thanks for finding time to write such a long, convoluted response. One of several that continue to evade a simple question.

    Please point out where this is wrong:

    1) LNC suspends

    2) Suspended officer appeals to JC (no appeal, suspension becomes removal (or resignation if that feels kinder))

    3) JC Investigates including a Hearing

    4) JC either Removes or Reinstates

    THE END

    Back in 1972 where did you all see a RONR XX Trial fitting into that? No mention was made of a RONR trial in any version of our bylaws so it must have been very obvious, yes?

    Or are you just playing games here?

    Here, I’ll help. Let’s do FILL IN THE BLANKS:

    1) LNC suspends

    2) __________________________

    3) __________________________

    4) __________________________

    5) __________________________

    Should take you less than 12 words and what – one minute. Some of the blanks will have “JC Hearing,” and “RONR Trial,” and “JC Decision”.

    You can DO THIS!!

    Or you can keep evading, equivocating, and obfuscating.

  24. Seebeck

    The JC ruling is so wrong, I’ve lost count of the errors in fact, judgment, and reason. Still analyzing the mess.

    Moulton should know better, Mattson was just a vindictive b*tch, Supreme is a sad joke, Turney tried to have it both ways, and Arnold wimped out.

    Ruwart got it correct.

    Still trying to figure out what D Frank was saying, but I understand it better now.

    The short analysis is the LP Bylaws are very poorly-written and desperately need a rewrite by someone who knows how to do it (like me).

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