The Florida Statutes do not require the use of any particular parliamentary procedures or rules. Further, there is a 1960 decision from Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal which holds that Robert’s Rules of Order is not binding or mandatory in corporate proceedings. However, the governing documents for many communities incorporate Robert’s Rules of Order as the applicable parliamentary guide for association meetings. At this time The Charter Committee has considered its removal from the Charter. Joe explained to the Committee that it would bring chaos to meetings if not retained. We are positive that Mayor Lofty, Rhett Bullard and Tonja Brown would prefer it to be removed. What say you?
The Florida Bar has adopted Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (henceforth cited as RONR) as its parliamentary authority, it is important to explore the main aspects of this particular manual. The rules are applicable to all other for which have adopted the same authority, although legislative bodies and municipalities frequently have additional rules.
In addition to statutory provisions for nonprofit organizations, the user should be alert to many factors influencing the effectiveness or pertinence of RONR, such as: a. Contractual relationship to adopted manual Courts have held that the adoption of parliamentary rules creates a contractual relationship between members and their organizations. Confusion caused by the existence of many other manuals and the peculiar rules in legislative bodies often results in erroneous interpretations of the contractual provisions contained in RONR.
b. Case law While RONR is the most frequently used parliamentary manual (A. Sturgis, Code of Parliamentary Procedure being the second one), its rules are primarily for ideal situations under ideal circumstances. The rules in RONR are not always upheld in the courts. The test seems to be whether an individual’s rights have been unduly violated. At least one court has said it will not stand on form alone, and another one has specifically refused to “sit as Grand Parliamentarian” in a dispute. As rules of parliamentary procedure are being contested in court, a growing body of common parliamentary law has been established.
c. Lack of previous training Because admission to the Bar does not routinely carry with it familiarity with RONR and because each rule must be considered in its context as well as in light of any judicial interpretations of it, great care should always be exercised in the application of RONR. Please see the role of a parliamentarian, below at VII. d. Intent Correct vocabulary is essential for the understanding of the intent of the group when proper form is not observed. Often, the person recording the actions of a meeting cannot easily ascertain the intent of a group, unless accurate vocabulary is used during the proceedings. When this is not the case, the intent can easily be obscured or misrepresented by the recorder and lay the foundation for future litigation by malcontenders.
Custom Organizations have a tendency to develop its own customary, unwritten rules–a fact, that RONR readily acknowledges in connection with the format of minutes. A presiding officer should, therefore, work closely with the parliamentarian on deciding when proper procedure may be overlooked to accommodate a custom which may be, politically or otherwise, more “correct.” Members, on the other hand, should always be advised of the fact that objections must be made at the time of an alleged violation of the rules.
OUR TOWN MANAGER SHOULD ORDER A MANUAL FOR THE OFFICIALS AND THOSE WHO ARE SEEKING TO CHANGE THE CHARTER:
The Florida Municipal Officials’ Manual is a publication of the Florida League of Cities. Our appreciation goes to the FLC legal, legislative and membership staff who assisted with revisions to this edition, and to the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at FSU for their longtime assistance with the research for the manual. Inquiries concerning the manual should be addressed to: Sharon Berrian, Florida League of Cities at sberrian@fl cities.com or by phone at (850) 222-9684
Karin for the blog
P.S. It may be mentioned that Robert’s Rules of Order are not used in Jasper’s meetings and as a result everyone is talking and Rhett does the most and there is no organization whatsoever. It confuses a person as to what is being done. Everyone looks to Rhett for his decisions and Rhett is the only one making the decisions for the council and talking the entire time.