The Bishop’s Court scene featured on Big Love [which they referred to as a "Love Court"] seems to have been more controversial than the Temple ceremony. Barb was effectively told she was headed for “Outer Darkness” albeit for polygamy but please keep in mind this could have been for pretty much any offense. Just as depicted in Big Love, you are made to feel guilty, regardless of the so-called “sin”.
Here is an explanation of the Bishop’s Court from the Book Priesthood and Church Government by John A Widtsoe:
“The Ward Bishop’s Court consists of the Bishop of the ward and his two counselors The jurisdiction of this court is limited to members of the ward presided over by the Bishop, unless upon a change of venue he is directed by the State Presidency to hold court in some other ward. This court can inflict the extreme penalty of excommunication from the Church upon lay members or members of the Aaronic Priesthood found guilty; but only disfellowshipment upon men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, though it may refer them to the Stake High Council for further action. (DC 42:84-92; 134:10, 11.) Appeals from the decisions of this court may be made to the Stake High Council.
“The Stake High Council consists of twelve High Priests, presided over by the Stake President, assisted by his two counselors. Its procedure is patterned after the High Council first organized February 17, 1834, at Kirtland, Ohio and presided over by the Prophet Joseph Smith. DC102.”
“Appeals from the Ward Bishop’s court go before the Stake High Council, though the hearing may also originate there. Only the most important matters should come before the stake council. Appeals from the decisions of the stake council may be made to the first presidency; The First Presidency Council consists of the President of the church (also known as the prophet) and his two counselors.”
Long ago, I had a conversation with the Bishop of the ward which I previously attended who wanted to hold a Bishop’s court. I told them to go ahead and hold the court without me because I had no interest in attending and did not recognize their authority .The main purpose of the Bishop’s Court is to make the member feel guilty enough to coax them back into the church. The way I look at it, if I agreed to the Bishops court, I would be have to go to the church building and sit before a group of men and plead my case of why I don’t believe in the Mormon teaching any longer. At that point I would be told of the errors of my ways with a big side of guilt and called to repent and turn from my personal thoughts and follow the teachings of the Prophet. If I did not show any remorse for my “evil ways” I would be disfellowshipped from the church. Then they could refer my case to the Stake council for excommunication. I would have to attend this next court and be told of the errors of my ways with another big side of guilt. It is the view of the Mormon Church and its membership that the only reason someone would leave the Mormon Church is because of some Big Sin that they must be involved in. However with me, it was simply that I did not believe the teachings any longer. When asked why I would not attend a Bishops Court my response was basically why would anyone want to go through all that when they do not recognize them as the authorities over their spiritual life? I guess in looking for my big sin they would simply find the sin of disbelief of the Mormon doctrine, their modern day Prophet along with modern day revelation. Oh, more on that later.