How to Record a Judicial Meeting

by 00DAD 59 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • 00DAD

    Introduction: This subject came up on another thread and seemed important enough to justify its own thread:

    Judicial Hearing Procedure, Chapter 7

    Recording Devices

    "Recording devices should not be allowed." - STFOG, p. 90 - Emphasis in original

    • The same paragraph also says, "Observers should not be present for moral support."
      • Q: Does that mean they can be allowed for other reasons?
      • A: No.

    NOTE: What follows is my personal advice as an ex-JW that served for 20 years as an elder. It is written for someone that wants to fade-away, but does not want to be disfellowshipped or to disassociate themselves … yet the elders are on a witch hunt to try to get something on them.

    I really believe that if you are asked to meet with the elders you should avoid it at all costs. If the meeting is really just a "shepherding call" then there is really no downside to meeting with them other than the possibility of saying something that later on can be used against you. Of course, meeting could buy you some time and good-will in respects to your fade.

    On the other hand, if it is a meeting with two elders sent to "investigate the matter" there is no downside to refusing to meet and a lot of good reasons to avoid the meeting. - (See STFOG, p. 72, #38 and 38)

    The elders can only proceed against an individual if they have two or more witnesses. In that event, if you are invited to a Judicial Committee meeting and do not attend, then you can be disfellowshipped in absentia. So in this case, it is probably best to meet and do what you can to deal with the situation. Understand that attending a JC meeting is tantamount to playing on their field by their rules and by doing so implies recognition of the authority of the WTBTS.

    At any rate, I absolutely believe that if someone does meet with the elders they should RECORD THE MEETING. The elders are only instructed to make an issue of it if the meeting is a Judicial Hearing. They are instructed to not allow recordings or observers. If you decide to record the meeting, there are several things you can do if, and when, they ask if you have any recording devices:

    • Lie
    • Question
    • Deflect
    • Acknowledge

    Let's look at these options one at a time and see how they might play out in a Judicial Hearing:

    • Lie - Although this is certainly one strategy, personally I'm not an advocate of this approach for several reasons. First, and most importantly, it would be imitating the very hypocrisy of the WT leadership which has gotten most of us to this place. That being said, I do not believe we are obliged to be forthcoming about facts that are none of their damn business. (Does the term, "Theocratic Warfare" come to mind?) Secondly, it can come back to bite you. From a purely practical standpoint, if you ever want or need to use any of the recording, then it can be pointed out that you lied when asked about a recording device and then your honesty and credibility has been compromised. Your call.
    • Question - "Why do you ask?"
      • It's entirely possible that after they ask they may forget you didn't answer and proceed. If they do notice, then you can move to one of the next options.
    • Deflect - "Yes, I understand the rule."
      • This is tricky ploy. They may not notice that you actually admitted you were recording the meeting because it seems that you are acknowledging acceptance of the procedures when in reality your are only acknowledgingunderstanding. You are not obligated to explain the English language to them.
    • Acknowledge - "Yes I am. Why? Is that a problem."
      • If you do this, the elders are instructed to tell you that it is not allowed. To which (assuming you have never been an elder or in a JC meeting before) you could respond,
        • "Really?!? Where is THAT written?" and possibly adding, "Show me the scriptural basis for this!"
      • These rules are of course NOT in any publication that the average JW would have access to read, but only in the secret elders' handbooks. If they tell you where the rule is located, ask to read it. Better yet, ask for a copy of all the rules of the Judicial Hearing Procedures. Explain you need this to prepare yourself and would have appreciated being given this information in advance; (this is how things are done in secular courts). They will of course never give you this. It is doubtful that they would even let you see the book, let alone let you read anything in it.
      • This is where it is time to up the ante by simply saying, "Well I don't agree to that. I want to have a record of everything discussed at this meeting for my own protection. And so I'm going to record this meeting."
        • You could possibly add, "Are you guys afraid you'll say something you wouldn't want anyone else to hear?"
        • They'll probably mumble something about "confidentiality", but the truth is most elders haven't thought this one through. They are simply blindly following WT Procedures which have been instituted precisely because many elders HAVE said things in JC meetings that have gotten them into legal trouble.
      • It is likely at this time that the elders will suspend the meeting. As far as I can determine, there are no instructions as to what they should do if someone refuses to comply with this directive*. In the 20 years I was an elder I served on countless JCs and it never came up, not once. Every single JW obediently and unquestioningly agreed to not record the meeting, or at least that's what they said.
        • If they do not suspend the meeting, then you can proceed to the next point.
    • Conclusion: I think here is where the individual can really turn things around. This can be very powerful, especially considering that this entire conversation has been and is being recorded. I would recommend proceeding with a statement along the lines of something like this:
      • "Let me get this straight. This is a closed-door, secret, 'Star Chamber' judicial meeting, there are three of you and I'm alone. I am not allowed to have anyone present to assist me or support me in any way; I am not even allowed to have a single, independent witness present; I am not allowed to record it; it is being conducted according to a set of secret procedures to which I could not have had previous access or knowledge, and to which I am now explicitly being denied a copy of those procedures--in fact, you won't even let me look at them let alone read them--and yet you somehow expect me to go along with all of this as if it's OK?!?"
        • They will of course say, "Yes, we do expect you to go along with it."
      • You respond, "I don't think so - sorry, but no! This arrangement makes me uncomfortable. In fact, it makes me very uncomfortable. This so-called "judicial arrangement" is in violation of basic human civil rights recognized in every civilized country on earth. I cannot take part in this. This is wrong."
        • For fun you could add, "I think you're making this up. This can't be right, this can't be true." But unfortunately, it is.
      • Then get up and leave.

    If you admit to recording the meeting, it will likely result in the meeting being stopped by the elders. This will probably only delay the inevitable, but it does bring to light the abusive, un-enlightened nature of this "Theocratic" arrangement. If the elders don't stop the meeting, but balk at it, it provides the opportunity for the individual to take control and end the meeting if they so choose on grounds that are well-justified and unassailable, at least from a rational, secular standpoint. Less likely is that the elders would allow the recording. If they do, then at least you'll have a record of what transpired, including their deviation for the WTBTS Judicial Hearing Procedures script.

    * Elders are instructed to suspend the meeting and call the branch if someone threatens legal actions during the Judicial Hearing:

    • "If the accused threatens legal action against the elders, the elders should suspend proceedings and promptly telephone the branch office." - STFOG, 6:17-19, p. 86

    PARTING SHOT: If you play by their rules you lose every time. Refuse to play by their rules.

    Your comments are welcome!


  • ziddina


    I thought this was going to be a discussion of the various ways and means of successfully RECORDING a session - ANY 'elders' meeting' - and what sort of electronic gizmos to use, to avoid getting caught!!!!

  • 00DAD

    HOW to do it is easy. Just go buy a small digital recording device and place it surreptitiously on our person or in a book bag that you can leave in the room if and when you're asked to "step outside".

    From a tech standpoint it's cake:


    Livescribe Echo Smartpen 4 GB Digital voice recorder

    My point is regarding How To Prepare yourself MENTALLY and EMOTIONALLY to do it.

  • ziddina

    Hee hee hee heeee!!!!

    Not NEARLY as dayyamed expensive as I thought they'd be...!!

    Personally, I like the mens' watch that hides a motion-activated sound recorder - 4Gigs of memory [and that's TWICE what this creaky old computer of mine has, btw...]

    The recorder and memory are built right in, so there are no 'cards' to mess with...

    He could wear it into the meeting, and just casually take it off and leave it on the table... and it will continue recording if he has to step out...

  • 00DAD

    Ziddy you may have a future in black ops after all!

  • ziddina

    Pens are too easy to pick up and take apart...

    I really prefer the watch... Much less likely to be 'taken apart'; and less - well, slightly less - likely to be picked up and find its way into an elder's pocket...

    I mean, how many pens have YOU lost, to someone who comes along and picks them up??

  • Iamallcool

    how to do it in front of the elders that use sign language?

  • 00DAD

    I get your point, but it would be odd for a man to take off a watch and leave it on a table. On the other hand nearly every JW has a "Meeting Bag" that they could slip a pen or other digital recording device into. I'd start it recording before entering the meeting, open the bag up when the meeting starts and let it do it's stuff.

    If they ask you to step outside just leave the bag. You're going to be invited back in a couple of minutes, right?

    Ziddy, you simply have to start thinking more like a spy if this training is going to take!


  • 00DAD

    Iamallcool: how to do it in front of the elders that use sign language?

    That would be trickier but possible. You'd need a small spy-cam.

  • ziddina

    Hah!!! That watch that I mentioned also has SPY-CAM!!! So there...

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