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Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 14 February '97

Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 14 February '97

Dear Readers:
 Have  “Dear Parlimentarian” sent to your e-mail box every month. You may subscribe to this column.  The cost is $5.00 per month or $60.00 a year. To subscribe call 1-800-532-4017 and we will e-mail you the column every. We take VISA, MC, and AMERICA EXPRESS. Checks and money orders are also accepted.  Questions are still answered for free.

Dear Readers,

    In this month’s “Dear Parlimentarian” Column, I am featuring a letter that I have never been asked before: What does the Sargeant At Arms do?

Other letters ask about:

    How is a motion stated?
    Illegal election of Officer bylaw amendments when are the ballots handed out?
    How do you handle a conflict of interest?
    What do you do when members do not want to serve in offices?
    How do you handle a mail ballot?
    Quorum issue
    What you do when people use parliamentary procedures to inhibit business
    Atwater’s Rules?
    Impeachment of an officer
    Violence at meeting


    Thank you for responding to my mail. In this little bit you have helped more than you can imagine. what has come out of this is the generation of a new position, Master at Arms, Because of the interest that I have shown and the desire to make things right in our union I have been asked to serve in this capacity for the union. Our union will be doubling in size within the next six months, our fire district is absorbing another district, so all of this info. is greatly appreciated. With this in mind is their somewhere that I can find a description of what the tasks for a master at arms are? Also thanks for the info on the video and "THE BOOK" as they say. I will present this to my union to see about purchasing this valuable tool.

Thanks a lot Kevin :)

 Dear Kevin,

    Is this similar to a “Sergeant of Arms’? Who enforcing discipline and removed disruptive members from the hall during a meeting?


 Dear Kevin,

    In RIDDICK’S RULES, p. 181 he says this about the office of “Sergeant-at-Arms”: “in ordinary societies has the responsibility to assist the presiding officer and the members in maintaining order.

    “The chair may direct the sergeant-at-arms to evict an offending nonmember or a member as ordered by the assembly. In either case, witnesses should always be assigned to attest that no undue force was used in the event of a later suit by the offender. The sergeant-at-arms may be assigned other duties that pertain to the presiding officer. If the group is large, as in a convention, he may be assigned assistants. These members may serve as ushers for the proper seating of delegates or for escorting visiting dignitaries to the platform.”

    In Alice Sturgis’s book, page 161, states: “The sergeant-at-arms, under the direction of the presiding officer, helps to maintain order and decorum at meetings. The sergeant-at-arms acts a doorkeeper, directs the ushers, and is responsible for the comfort and convenience of the assembly. In small organizations these duties are performed by one person, but in a large one there may be a staff of assistant sergeant-at arms.”

    On page 643, of ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER NEWLY REVISED, it states, “The chair can appoint a committee to escort the offender to the door, or the sergeant-at-arms--if there is one-- can be asked to do this. If those who are assigned that task are unable to persuade the offender to leave, it is usually preferable that he be removed by police -- who may, however, be reluctant to intervene unless representatives of the organization are prepared to press charges. The sergeant-at-arms or the members of the appointed committee themselves have the legal right to use such force as is necessary to remove the offender from the hall, and no more. But such a step should generally be taken only as a last resort, since, if the ejected party is maltreated, the person(s) who applied the excessive force, and not ordinarily the organization or the presiding officer, may be held liable for damages; and a person who would refuse to leave upon legitimate request may be the type most likely type to bring suit, even if with little justification.”

    Another duty Robert has assigned to the sergeant-at-arms is to bring in members when a CALL OF THE HOUSE is order. See page 344 to 345.

    I would recommend that your union adopt some rules about your duties so that all members understand the importance of the office and its intent. This will be a protection to you or anyone who serves in this position.

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