From the Rudder- 85 canons of the Holy Apostles: on the correct procedure and who to accept in relation to attacks on bishops.
74. When a Bishop has been accused of something by trustworthy men, he must be summoned by Bishops; and if he answers and confesses, or is found guilty, let the penalty be fixed. But if when summoned he refuses to obey, let him be summoned a second time by sending two Bishops to him. If even then he refuses to obey, let him be summoned a third time, two Bishops again being sent to him; but if even then he shows contempt and fails to answer, let the synod decide the matter against him in whatever way seems best, so that it may not seem that he is getting the benefit by evading a trial.
(c. VI of the 2nd; cc. IX, XVII, XXI of the 4th; cc. XIV, XV of Antioch; c. IV of Sarican; cc, VIII, XII, XVI, XXVII, XCVI, CV, CXXXI, CXXXVII, CXXXIX of Carthage; and c. IX of Theophilus.).
The accusation brought against the Bishop and mentioned in the present Canon is not one involving a financial matter, that is to say, not anything of a private nature and calling for personal blame, as, for instance, that a man Has been unjustly treated by the Bishop or that he has been greedily victimized, as Balsamon has incorrectly interpreted it, but, on the contrary, it is one involving an ecclesiastical matter such as might be expected to imperil his rank. But how can this be determined? By the 1 trustworthy men whom the Canon produces as accusers. For men bringing charges against a bishop on account ol financial claims or personal grievances are not examined as to whether they are Orthodox or are misbelievers, nor as to whether they are under suspicion or above suspicion, that is to say, thoroughly trustworthy, but, on the contrary, no matter what sort of persons they may be they are entitled to have their changes sifted, according to c. VI of the 2nd, and cc. VIII and XXVII ot Carthage. But as for those who accuse him on ecclesiastical grounds and m regard to ecclesiastical matters must be both Orthodox and above suspicion, or trustworthy; or else they are not admissible as accusers, according to the same canons. That is why Zonaras too appears to agree with such an acceptation of this Canon. So what the Canon means is simply this: If any bishop should be accused by trustworthy and unaccused men of any ecclesiastical crime he must be summoned to trial by the other bishops. Then if he appears and confesses of his own accord that the accusation is true, or, though he deny it, it is proved by indisputable evidence offered by his accusers that he is guilty of such a charge, then it shall be determined by the bishops what penalty he ought to bear. If, on the other hand, he be summoned and refuse to appear for trial, let two bishops be sent to him and let them summon him a second time. If he again refuses to appear, let two bishops be sent to him once m Dre, and let them summon him a third time. If even for a third time he scorns the summons and refuses to go, henceforward let the synod of bishops decide the case against him even in his absence and decree whatever it deems just and right and lawful penalties, lest he consider that he is gaining any benefit by such tactics in avoiding trial and postponing the time.
Canon XXVII of Carthage adds that the synod of bishops ought to send the accused bishop letters of request, and if within a space of one month he does not appear, he is to be excluded from communion. Or if he prove that necessary business prevented his appearing for trial, he is to be allowed another month’s time. After the second month has passed without his appearing for trial, he is to be excluded from communion until he proves himself innocent of the crime with which he is charged. But Balsamon says that the thiee summons which the Canon requires to be served upon the accused bishop are to be spaced thirty days apart. So that if the accused bishop fails to appear for trial before the synod within a period of three months, he is thereafter to be condemned at an ex parte hearing. Accordingly in the days of the Holy Apostles, on account of the tact that there were no patriarchates as yet, two bishops had to be sent to summon a bishop; but nowdays it is sufficient if he is notified and this fact is verified by the Patriarchal notaries. According to cc. XII and CXI of Carthage twelve bishops are required to try a bishop, six to try a presbyter, three to try a deacon, and their own metropolitan and bishop. If, however, by consent, they appoint umpires (or chosen judges), even though the latter be less in number than the number ordained, they shall have no right of appeal, according to cc. XVI and CV and CXXXI of the same council. If, on the other hand, any bishop promised at first to let his ease be tried by the bishops, but afterwards refuses to consent to this, he is to be excluded from communion. Nevertheless, until his case has been finally disposed of, according to c. XCVI of the same council, he is to be deprived of his episcopate. If anyone accuses a bishop, the case is to be tried first before the bishops of the synod of the province in question. But if this synod is unable to handle the case, let the trial be held by a larger synod of the diocese, in accordance with c. VI of the 1st. But if anyone has a case to be tried with a metropolitan, let him apply either to the exarch of the diocese or to the patriarch of Constantinople, according to cc. IX and XVII of the 4th. If when the bishop is tried some of the bishops of the province are in favor of acquitting him while others insist upon condemning him, let the Metropolitan call other bishops from nearby districts and let them decide the ease, according to c. XIV of Antioeh. But if all the bishops of the province unanimously arrive at one and the same decision against the accused, let the one thus condemned not be tried any more by other, according to c. XV of the same council. But c. IV of Sardican ordains that if the deposed bishop who has been tried by neighboring bishops claims to have a new defense, no one else is to be ordained in his stead until a better investigation has been made. But that men who accuse bishops and clergymen of criminal offenses must be men above suspicion and Orthodox is decreed more especially by c. CXXXVIII of Carthage, which states that slaves or even freed men are not acceptable as accusers of clergymen against their own lords, nor are mimes and buffoons or any persons that are infamous, and in general all those who are inadmissible as accusers in the case of civil laws. Moreover, c. CXXXIX of the same C. says: When anyone has charged a clergyman with a number of crimes, if he be unable to prove the first crime, let him not be accepted any longer with respect to the rest of his charges as credible. But neither are those who are still under excommunication admissible as accusers, according to c. CXXXVII of the same council. But it such persons are inadmissible as accusers of clergymen, still more are they inadmissible as against bishops. In addition, c. XXI of the 4th says that the reputation of those accusing bishops and clergymen ought to be investigated; and c. IX of Theophilus says the same thing too. See also the Interpretation of c. VI of the 2nd, and that of c. IX of the 4th.
75. As a witness against a bishop no heretic shall be accepted, but neither shall one faithful alone: for "every charge shall be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses" (Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16).
(c. II of the 1st; c. XL of Carthage; c. IX of Theophilus; Deut. 17:6.).
Not only must those accusing a bishop not be heretics, as we said above, but neither must those bearing witness against him; neither is any one person alone admissible as a witness against a bishop. That is why the present Canon says that no heretic shall be allowed to give testimony against a bishop, nor shall a single Orthodox and faithful one be allowed to stand alone as a witness against a bishop; because it is written in the old Law, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every doubtful word and charge shall be examined and verified.
The great St. Paul says the same things especially in writing to Timothy: "Against an elder (i.e., a presbyter) receive no accusation unless it beeng supported by two or three witnesses" (I Tim. 5:19). Canon CXL of Carthage ordains that if any persons are inadmissible as accusers they are inadmissible also as witnesses. But neither are those persons admissible as witnesses who are brought in by an accuser from his own home, which is the same as saying, the relatives of the accuser, and his intimates and those who arc subject to his authority. Neither ought anyone’s testimony to be admitted in evidence when he is under age, less than fourteen years old, according to the same Canon of Carthage, although, on the other hand, ch. 20 of Title I of Book 21 says that anyone under the age of twenty is disqualified as a witness in court. The First Ecum. C. in its c. II commands that if a bishop or presbyter be convicted of any sin by the testimony of two or three witnesses, he must be ousted from the Clergy. Moreover, c. IX of Theophilus ordains that if any clergyman accused of fornication be proved guilty of this crime by the testimony of credible witnesses, he shall be ousted from the Clergy. Canon XXXVIII of Carthage says that if an accuser cannot bring witness from the district of the one accused, on account of some fear, the court is to be held nearer to that locality so that witnesses may easily attend it. Canon LXVIII says for clergymen not to be haled into court against their will to give testimony. A single witness is never to be believed at any time, even though he be a great man, or a dignitary, or a senator, according to Title IX, ch. 2. of the Nomicon of Photius. See also Ap. c. LXXIV.
So, note that it is other bishops who do the challenge of a bishop. The correct procedure is for 2 or more lay people to thus talk to their bishop and present evidence directly, and let the bishops decide.