Aug 20, 2013

How Edan Works: Law and Justice

  While legislation is created through the Assembly, the enforcement and judgment of law is part of the executive function. Ultimately, enforcing the law and judging the law are manifestations of the King's sovereignty and authority. Nobles share in the king's sovereignty and are therefore also responsible for enforcing and judging the law. One of the duties of all nobles is to be available to pass judgement for his own citizens. The courts are divided into two major groups, Noble Courts and Royal Courts.
   Noble Courts-
   Noble courts are run by local or technocratic nobles. Unless otherwise specified within the Edict of Enfeofment only hereditary Barons and above and technocratic Earls and above have the authority of Low Justice grants them the duty of holding court. But all those of such rank or above have such duties and obligations unless specifically excluded by their enfeofment.
   Nobles must hold court in a time, place, and manner that it is accessible to citizens. The noble may preside himself or appoint a judge to decide in his authority.
   Noble courts deal with all legal matters from within their jurisdiction that are not limited to a higher court by law or edict. They will typically deal with such things as real estate and property disputes, family law, misdemeanors, etc.
  The party or parties that lose within a noble court may appeal to the next higher noble court. Any appeals beyond that go to the royal courts.
   Royal Courts-
   Royal courts are divided into three rather broad categories and three tiers. The categories are private law, public law, and penal law. The tiers are royal courts, appellate courts, and review courts. The parties which lose within a royal court may appeal to the appellate court. In case of conflicting decisions between various jurisdictions the various cases are reviewed by the review court as recommended by a royal judge.
  If a party loses within appellate court they may appeal to the High Tribunal. The High Tribunal may accept or reject an appeal as detailed in the constitution. At any time any party losing at any level may appeal to the King. However, it is highly unlikely the King's Court will intervene unless the appeal comes after being heard or dismissed by the High Tribunal.
  EXAMPLE: Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones have recently accepted citizenship and have been granted adjoining farms in Baron White's territories. About 2 years later Mr. Jones sharply prunes back an oak tree that was shading his garden. The oak tree' trunk, however, is well within Mr. Smith's land (by 3') and the tree dies over the next year. Shortly after Mr. Smith appears at baron White's manor and requests the Baron meet in court over Mr. Smith's demand for compensation for the lost tree. Both are directed to appear at the Baron's court the next Friday.
  They both appear and Mr. Smith explains that he was expecting to receive not just shade and weather protection from the tree but many board feet of mature hardwood in the future. Mr. Jones did not ask or speak about his actions beforehand, he simply acted on what was obviously Mr. Smith's property.
  Mr. Jones counters that while he had not mentioned his own actions, he had complained to Mr. Smith many times that the shade from the tree was blocking the only good plot of garden land on the lee of the Jone's home and that he would appreciate if Mr. Smith helped him with the issue; a request that was ignored.
  Baron White asks a few questions and concludes that while both are at fault, Mr. Jones is moreso and orders him to pay 80% of the estimated value of the board feet the Baron's forester estimates Mr. Smith could have expected in 10 more years. At this point both men accept the judgement and, working with the forester and the Baron's administrator Mr. Jones will supply a certain amount of eggs and milk to Mr. Smith each week for 9 months in lieu of cash.
  But let us suppose Mr. Jones was unhappy and appealed to Duke Gray, Baron White's lord. The Duke employs a judge, so his court has such things as filing fees and court costs, which are published. As soon as Mr. Jones pays the small filing fee his penalties from Baron White's court are suspended pending the appeal.
  Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith appear at Duke Gray's court in 4 more weeks and are before Judge Green. Judge Green listens to the arguments and decides that Mr. Smith will only receive 50% of the board feet value and the court fees will be evenly divided between the two men.
  Since both men are examples of how the system work rather than reasonable men, Mr. Smith is now ready to appeal, as well. The next appeal must go to the royal courts. Since this is between two men not related to one another but no real crime was committed it goes to Public Law court. This time Mr. Smith pays the (still reasonable) filing fee and they are directed to appear in 3 weeks.
  Three weeks later they appear before Judge Rivers. he listens to both men and then decides that while Mr. Smith will still just get 50% of the board feet value Mr. Jones will pay all court costs at all applicable levels. Being an unreasonable simulacra, Mr. Jones now pays the filing fee to appeal to the appellate public law court. There Judge Ocean, for the purpose of demonstration, sides with Mr. Jones and rules that Mr. Smith will only get 50% of the board feet value and pay all court costs at all levels.
  Finally Mr. Smith appeals to the High Tribunal, which never charges fees (but can have costs). This means Mr. Smith must wait for the High Tribunals next session. The High Tribunal agrees that the example must continue and review the case, concluding that Mr. Smith will, yes, get 80% of the values of the anticipated board feet and that each party will pay the court costs associated with their own appeals.
  At this point there is still the opportunity to appeal to the King, but even examples get tired, so they do not do so.

  All humor aside, the system should be fairly intuitive. And, despite the lack of attorneys in the example above, the King intends that the Edanian legal system shall follow the English Rule on attorney's fees. Also, fines should be compensatory only; fees and costs should not be a bar to justice; and the rights of Low and High Justice cannot be impeded by the courts.

  The accreditation of lawyers and judges are the jurisdiction of the crown. Since lawyers and judges are directly involved in the king's business of enforcing and judging the law they are considered to be agents of the king and, thus, ineligible to hold a seat in the senate. It would be theoretically possible for a lawyer or judge to reject their accreditation and status as a lawyer and judge in order to run for the senate, but this would both require the approval of the High Tribunal and the king and be an irrevocable step - such a person could never practice law or act as a judge ever again.

 Because of the nature and structure of Edan it is expected that the majority of laws will be the organic outgrowth of common law practices. In the above example (when all parties were reasonable and stopped at the baronial court) there are two main precedents; that 80% of reasonable value is just compensation in similar cases and that payments can be made in kind and over time. If a similar case were to happen in the same barony a few years later over, say, a blackberry bramble, the owner of the bramble could expect 80% of the value of the bramble and the person fined could expect to pay in kind over time. Changes in situation, though, can mean changes in decisions! If the bramble were beyond a boundary fence rather than overhanging an adjoining property then the compensation could well be 100%.

  So there you have a brief overview of how the Edanian court system works.
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