Jehovah’s Witnesses face a woman of principle, Ruth Moram in the Court of Appeal in a case involving the statute of limitations on Monday July 20th.

Ruth Moran

Ruth Moram

This article written last year gives us a brief but clear exposition of the issues at stake:

Ruth Moram

Ruth Moram is originally from Cornwall but had been living in Killarney for a long time and was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. She has been in conflict with the JW’s since 2003 and has had a number of legal entanglements with them since. These have been outlined in a number of posts on this site and in various media articles.

This article is written to inform the public that Ruth Moram will be in the new Court of Appeal Court on 20th July. Ruth Moram took a legal case in Personal Injury against the Watch Tower Society in May of 2013. Since then there have been several court appearances in this case to determine the legal issues at stake. The Watch Tower Society took a motion to strike out Ms. Moram’s case. This was heard by Mr. Justice Barrett in March of last year. He stated the case should be struck out due to the statute of limitations. However, Ruth believes she has grounds to overturn that result. Her case revolves around the notion of fraudulent misrepresentation. She believes the Watchtower Society have abused the process and that she should be allowed to reopen her case.

Dialogue Ireland will be present at this case and having discussed this with a number of organisations working with the breach of human rights of ex and members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there is growing jurisprudence that considers that groups like the Catholic Church which has its own internal canon law can’t in a democratic state trump the civil rights of a citizen of a Republic. For too long these internal systems and codes have led to the dominance of ordinary members by groups exercising undue influence with legal instruments which cover up the abuse of human rights.

Though this set of Videos deals with some of the issues of Ruth’s earlier case and issues that might follow if her legal appeal is successful it is important for us to have it in mind that Ruth’s battle is one which is taking place on every continent.

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/jehovahs-witnesses-shunning-and-human-rights-by-john-cedars/#more-13317

Perhaps of greater relevance is the action of the Finnish Department of Justice in addressing the claims of former JW’s that their human rights have been violated by the internal disciplinary codes of the JW’s.

Justice Minister Anna-Maija Henriksson has expressed concern over claims by a local NGO that Jehovah’s Witnesses in Finland have their own judicial committee meting out justice to wrongdoers. Responding to a report by the UUT which advocates for victims of religious organisations, Henriksson said that Finland has no room for two separate judicial systems.

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/jws-justice-minister-no-room-for-two-judicial-systems-in-finland/
Ruth Moram took a case for defamation against 3 members of the JW organisation, because she believed they had defamed her by making false accusations and spreading this accusation to others before checking the facts (There was no evidence of slander.) The WT Society stepped in and got her case struck out without it being heard.
Then between 2011 and 2014 she discovered that there were instructions in the secret JW Elders Manual which are against the laws of natural justice and fair procedures. In the manual (1991 edition) elders are instructed to not inform the accused of the case, therefore there is no opportunity for the accused to defend himself. (He does not know what he is defending himself against.) The elders write down secretly, the accused supposed wrongs on S77 and S79 forms but do not inform the accused this is happening nor do they give him the information. Elders are instructed to make up their minds as to the accused guilt before asking him to a judicial hearing but there is no provision for the accused to defend himself beforehand. An appeal committee will, in secret, read the S77, S79 forms and discuss the case with the original committee before meeting with the accused. The appeal committee are now prejudiced and the accused does not know why.

In December 2012 she discovered that there are marginal notes in the secret elders’ manual. These notes instruct the elders that they must not write down or record any of the errors made by elders of the judicial committee.

On the basis of this new information, in January 2013, Ruth took a new case in personal injury including fraud and harassment as the causes of the injuries. She cited the Watch Tower Society along with others as the defendants. (In 2004 she had lost a lot of weight going down to six and a quarter stone (87 lbs?). In 2009 when the defendants renewed the accusation, she went to her solicitor to ask him to write letters to stop the harassment. Needless to say Ruth’s health was severely affected.
The defendants Watch Tower Society and others took a motion to strike out her new case. At the time the High Court in Ireland was under pressure with a shortage of 5 judges so she was limited as to the time she could spend speaking to her motion. The motion was briefly as follows:

The defendants claimed res judicata and that the case was not justiciable. They argued that they have a judicial system but claimed they did not have a duty of care to inform her of the case against her. They stated that being a voluntary organisation means they do not have to use fair procedures. They stated elders would inform the accused in ‘broad terms’ of the case. This was new to me, but explained everything.

Previously Ruth was of the opinion that the elders were acting independently and not according to Watch Tower Society rules. The elders did not investigate thoroughly or discuss the case with her as she had been led to believe they were supposed to do. Thus the whole accusation against her was simply the result of them telling me her she was accused of slander but not telling her what the slander was! If she had known she could have sorted the matter out in five minutes. As a result she had to put up with harassment for six years before she finally left the organisation in fear the heart problem would get so bad as to kill her. Leaving was a good thing to do as the elders could no longer harass her, but as a result she lost all her friends too and has not been able to speak to her own brother in years.

Very roughly to summarise the Irish Constitution implies that all bodies or persons making decisions which affect the individual must act fairly. Acting fairly involves the judges not being prejudiced, and hearing both sides. This means domestic tribunals must inform the accused of the case so that he can reply to the matters. The accused must be given an opportunity to defend himself. The Watch Tower Society’s secret procedures do not allow for that. Voluntary organisations are not exempt from this rule. They can have prejudicial rules but they cannot enforce those rules by using unfair procedures. The Watch Tower society has got the two legal principles muddled up. .
Anyway to get back to the legal motion: Moram explained that res judicata did not apply. Many causes of action can apply to the same facts. The defendants do have a duty of care, the matter is justiciable ( Moram was not discussing doctrine but human rights.) Fair procedures mean that a domestic tribunal must not be prejudiced, must hear both sides, and must inform the accused of the case and give him an opportunity to present a defence – none of which happened to Ruth.

Ruth was ill at the Motion (March 2014) and had trouble continuing with her presentation. There is the new personal injury case of 2013 which she had pleaded and the fraud (Statute of Limitations Act 1957 S71.1 includes concealing essential facts.) The statute of limitations means that there is no time limit if fraud and abuse of rights can be proven. The judge was sympathetic but ruled that Ruth was out of time hence her appeal.

Dialogue Ireland will be present at this case and having discussed this with a number of organisations working with the breach of human rights of ex Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there is growing jurisprudence that considers that groups like the Catholic Church which has its own internal canon law can’t in a democratic state trump the civil rights of a citizen of a Republic.
Though this set of Videos deals with some of the issues of Ruth’s earlier case and issues that might follow if her legal appeal is successful it is important for us to have it in mind that Ruth’s battle is one which is taking place on every continent.

For further information on Ruth’s case read other articles here:

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/category/christian/jehovahs-witnesses/

Read this PDF below to get a sense of the human story at stake here:

Mormam

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