To put things in perspective, back when I was an elder more than 20 years ago, it was a common practice to either destroy notes taken in judicial meetings or turn them over to the secretary. Since then and with the increase in litigation coming against the Watchtower and even single congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses and bodies of elders, the lawyers at Bethel are apparently doubling down, as they say, and being extra judicious.
Keep in mind that it is not just abuse victims who may bring a legal case; anyone who is disfellowshipped for any reason can hire a lawyer and sue the organization. Even a disfellowshipped pedophile can sue elders, the congregation or the Watchtower, for slander, defamation of character or whatever.
But elders’ meeting agendas and personal notes and private correspondence are not really “evidence.” Nor should they be made available to prosecuting attorneys to scour for anything to use to their advantage. Besides, the Watchtower is not asking elders to destroy congregation files. It is just that there are many well-trained lawyers who make a living suing large corporations. Clever lawyers will seek to find anything that might be construed as damning “evidence,” like an elder’s personal notes, for example. The Legal Department of the Watchtower is just doing what any competent in-house legal team would do for the corporation or institution whom they are employed to protect.
Ironically, the Watchtower’s biggest short falling is that they did not make it easier to bring accused child abusers into a judicial hearing. The Watchtower is under scrutiny now because of their rigid application of the two-witness rule and their refusal to cooperate with the police and use their investigative findings as a second “witness” in a congregation judicial setting.
If they had been more cooperative with police and aggressive in getting accused pedophiles into judicial hearings, they would not be under fire now and this “check list” would not even be an issue. But once trust is lost it is difficult if not impossible to restore it.