The Principles of Masonic Law/Chapter XXIII

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Every Mason, who has been tried and convicted by a lodge, has an inalienable right to appeal from that conviction, and from the sentence accompanying it, to the Grand Lodge.

As an appeal always supposes the necessity of a review of the whole case, the lodge is bound to furnish the Grand Lodge with an attested copy of its proceedings on the trial, and such other testimony in its possession as the appellant may deem necessary for his defense.

The Grand Lodge may, upon investigation, confirm the verdict of its subordinate. In this case, the appeal is dismissed, and the sentence goes into immediate operation without any further proceedings on the part of the lodge.

The Grand Lodge may, however, only approve in part, and may reduce the penalty inflicted, as for instance, from expulsion to suspension. In this case, the original sentence of the lodge becomes void, and the milder sentence of the Grand Lodge is to be put in force. The same process would take place, were the Grand Lodge to increase instead of diminishing the amount of punishment, as from suspension to expulsion. For it is competent for the Grand Lodge, on an appeal, to augment, reduce or wholly abrogate the penalty inflicted by its subordinate.

But the Grand Lodge may take no direct action on the penalty inflicted, but may simply refer the case back to the subordinate for a new trial. In this case, the proceedings on the trial will be commenced de novo, if the reference has been made on the ground of any informality or illegality in the previous trial. But if the case is referred back, not for a new trial, but for further consideration, on the ground that the punishment was inadequate--either too severe, or not sufficiently so--in this case, it is not necessary to repeat the trial. The discussion on the nature of the penalty to be inflicted should, however, be reviewed, and any new evidence calculated to throw light on the nature of the punishment which is most appropriate, may be received.

Lastly, the Grand Lodge may entirely reverse the decision of its subordinate, and decree a restoration of the appellant to all his rights and privileges, on the ground of his innocence of the charges which had been preferred against him. But, as this action is often highly important in its results, and places the appellant and the lodge in an entirely different relative position, I have deemed its consideration worthy of a distinct chapter.

During the pendency of an appeal, the sentence of the subordinate lodge is held in abeyance, and cannot; be enforced. The appellant in this case remains in the position of a Mason "under charges."