The Judicial authority of the diocesan bishop is exercised through the Diocesan Tribunal, (Church Court). The officers who constitute this tribunal are: Judicial Vicar, Reverend John V. Hotze, JCL; Judge, Reverend James E. Baker, JCL; Reverend Peter Tran, JCL, Defender of the Bond; Promoter of Justice (vacant); Church Notary, Sister Janice Grochowsky, CSJ, JCL. Other officers of the court may be appointed in individual cases. Other officers may include advocates whose primary responsibility is to assist the petitioner or respondent in a particular case; auditors who assist in the collection of evidence, and assessors who assist the judge in arriving at a decision.
The diocesan tribunal is governed by the Code of Canon Law, specifically its procedural law. While the function of the diocesan tribunal is most often in relationship to questions which concern the validity of a particular marital union, the tribunal is also the ordinary forum for other church legal processes among which are the procedures for canonization cases, the examination of the validity of sacred orders, and cases which involve church sanctions (penalties).
In the Diocese of Dodge City, persons who are interested in initiating one of the legal processes which involve a question of the validity of marriage are asked initially to discuss the matter with the parish priest or pastoral minister before approaching the diocesan tribunal. The petition is to be sent to the Director of Diocesan Tribunal. The decision reached by the first court must be reviewed by a second court. Generally speaking, these procedures will require a minimum of one year in the diocesan tribunal before the case is reviewed by the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS.