Automatic Recusal Policy

NOTICE:

This is a sandbox page.

It is not approved or active policy. It is a draft, and as such, may be incomplete.

Purpose: To prevent bias, miscarriages of the disciplinary process, or other faults following improper staff behavior.


When a staff member is under investigation by the Disciplinary Team for a fault, they are automatically recused from exercising their authority in areas which intersect with the behavior they are being investigated for, for the duration of that investigation. This includes the following cases:

  • An administrator being investigated for abuse of Fiat (specifically distinguished from routine Fiat reviews, which are not disciplinary investigations), their ability to utilize Fiat is suspended.
  • A captain being investigated for misuse of their Captaincy powers is temporarily removed from Captaincy of the team(s) which they acted improperly in.
  • A Disciplinary Team member being investigated for misused of Disciplinary powers has their ability to use those powers suspended, as well as their ability to participate in Disciplinary deliberations.
  • A team member being investigated for misuse of team powers has their ability to use those certain powers suspended. As with censure, they may participate in that team's discussions, subject to the discretion of administration and the acting captain(s) of the team, unless administration or the Disciplinary Team request otherwise with public reasoning.
  • A staff member being investigated for misuse of staff powers has their ability to use those certain powers suspended.

A staff member is also automatically recused if they would have the potential to influence a Disciplinary investigation beyond the normal scope of their duties, whether intentionally or not. They may not participate in the relevant Disciplinary deliberations in any way that non-Disciplinary staffers cannot, and must actively avoid any behavior which may be perceived as influencing the case, however minor. This includes the following cases:

  • Staff members may not participate in Disciplinary proceedings if they are the subject of the investigation.
  • Staff members may not participate in Disciplinary proceedings if they were materially affected by the subject of an investigation. For instance, if they were the wronged party in the case.
    • Complainants for a case may not port the matter to disciplinary chat. They must submit it to a non-recused Disciplinary Team member, who will port it, as if the case were submitted by a non-staff user.
    • At the discretion of the Disciplinary Team, offenses against a large number of targets may be considered offenses against the site rather than each of the individuals in question, if the number of those targeted would be large enough to cause automatic recusal to prevent normal functioning of the disciplinary process. As an example, imagine if a user vandalized the author pages of every member of staff, then a naïve reading of the policy would require all staff members be recused, which would also preclude any disciplinary action against the vandal.
  • Staff members must suspend work on policy which may affect an investigation looking into them, or into an individual who they were materially affected by (as above). For instance, if they are revising technical policy and the alleged offense was improper use of technical resources.
  • Staff members may not perform staff actions which may affect an investigation looking into them, or into an individual who they were materially affected by (as above). For instance, if their duties include pruning or archiving material which may contain evidence for the case.

To clarify disciplinary procedure specifically:

  • Staff members who are the subjects, complainants, or substantially affected by (as above) by a case may not see the discussion as it occurs.
  • Communication with such staff members about the case may not occur in channel. It should occur in PMs, with responses ported back as necessary.
  • Essentially, regardless of their access to disciplinary discussions in normal circumstances, recused staff members may have no greater access to the matter than any typical community member would have.
  • The Disciplinary Team captain is responsible for enforcing these boundaries. If they are recused or unavailable, this duty falls to the Vice Captain, or some other person designated by administrative or staff consensus.

All recusals (whether from this policy or not) must be announced on the appropriate O5 Disciplinary thread, or if it has not been created, in staff chat (meaning visible to all junior staff and higher). (After the relevant disciplinary threads have been created, information about the recusals must be copied there.)

If necessary, administration may alter a staff member's access to staff resources to enforce a recusal.

In the case of a significant disagreement about whether recusal applies, the opinion of administration on the matter is to be followed. However, a staff-wide vote may be held to apply or remove recusal for a specific person in a specific case, which will override any administrative consensus.

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