Court slips and why some groups won’t sign them
How do I get an AA attendance slip for my counselor, probation officer or judge? Why is it that some groups won't give them out or even sign one?
Most AA groups do not keep attendance records as it would not be in keeping with the "Anonymous" part of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Though it may be called an "AA Court Slip" where you live, these attendance slips do not
come from AA, are not supplied by AA, and have nothing really to do with AA. Sending people to AA with something to be signed is not done by AA, but by some agency that is in no way affiliated with the fellowship.
There is an AA Tradition (a very strong guiding custom) that establishes that AA should not be affiliated with any
outside agency. AA is not affiliated with any court system
Many groups will sign the slips readily and with no question.
Some groups feel that they can not keep attendance records for courts since that would imply that AA was affiliated with the court system and would go against the anonymous nature of the fellowship.
Since AA groups act independently of each other, each is free to decide on its own if they will sign court slips, and some groups won't. That would, of course, annoy someone trying to get a slip signed. This annoyance originates with the agencies that send people to AA with a slip to be signed but do not explain that an AA group is in no way obligated to sign anything for anyone
The AA General Service Office has put it this way:
Proof of attendance at meetings is not part of A.A.'s procedure. Each group is autonomous and has the right to choose whether or not to sign court slips. In some areas the attendees report on themselves, at the request of the referring agency, and thus alleviate breaking A.A. members anonymity. (Pamphlet F-2: Information on Alcoholics Anonymous.)
The full version of AA's Sixth Tradition ends this way:
While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never to go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.
Each group must decide on it's own if signing a slip is an implied "affiliation" or just "cooperation." Many groups have not considered the issue and simply have no policy on it.
If the occasion arises that a group refuses to sign a court slip, it is not
done to chase off newcomers, but to try and protect groups, and AA as a whole, so that we can continue to exist as an independent and *voluntary* organization.
In the long run this helps to ensure that newcomers do not see AA groups as a type of probation department where groups work for the courts. People would no longer think of AA as an anonymous organization where privacy was assured. Forcing attendance may help the occasional individual to get sober but our 1st Tradition places AA's welfare before that of the individual - protecting the integrity of the fellowship comes before helping any particular person.
As a practical matter, people often have a friend sign their slip, many sign their own. With the extremely loose and unstructured nature of AA there is no practical way to authenticate if a signature came from a meeting or not.
If a court were to ask a group to confirm the attendance of an individual the group would probably be disposed toward protecting the anonymity of the attendee and not say if they were really going to meetings or not. We are unaware of a group ever being subpoenaed for such information.
Some groups will sign the slips before the meeting begins as this does not record anyone's attendance at a meeting and demonstrates to the individual with the slip that we have no desire to force anyone to attend. With the slip signed the newcomer is then free to decide if they want to voluntarily attend the meeting or not.