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Kingdom of Washingtonia
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This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of the
Kingdom of Washingtonia



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Politics
The judiciary of the Kingdom of Washingtonia is the judicial branch of government which interprets and applies the law of Washingtonia. The judiciary was established by implication in Chapter 6 of the Constitution, as that document only defines the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the competency of the Grand Washingtonian Assembly to establish other courts.

Its primary roles are the administration of justice and the interpretation and review of legislation and conduct by the Grand Assembly, the Monarchy and the Presidency. It consists of two commonly-accepted tiers of courts; namely the constitutionally established courts and the legislatively established courts. In the case of the former, it consists of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, and in the case of the latter, it consists of the Court of Appeals, the Provincial Courts (which share hierarchical status with the Family Court and the Finance Court) and the Municipal Tribunals.

The judiciary is generally regarded to be governed by the implicit and express provisions of the Constitution, Anglo American common law and French civil law customs and conventions as recognized by the courts and legislation in the case of the ordinary courts. However, the Chief Justice, currently Allen Howsham, who sits on the Constitutional Court bench and is the de jure first among equals leader of that court, is considered to be face and ceremonial leader of the entirety of the judiciary. This however has no practical implications, as oversight of the judiciary is handled under the doctrine of checks and balances by the Presidency, the Monarchy and the Grand Assembly.

A quasi-judicial system has always existed in Washingtonian history, however, the Constitution of 1913 formally created and recognized it in its modern form.

History

The term "royal courts" refers to several quasi-judicial bodies which were formed by the aristocracy to ensure peace and order throughout the Kingdom in the early years of Washingtonia. George Washington was the first to commission some of these courts, and, because of his extravagant lifestyle and vain, he had little interest in the ideas of justice and fairness. The courts he formed, namely the High Court and the Commoners' Court, were only destined to protect the interests of the rich and foremost the Monarchy. The High Court, which Washington presided over personally on a regular basis, heard matters which directly or indirectly affected the Monarchy. When the King himself was not present, the Justician General or someone to whom he delegated powers was the presiding officer. Most cases in the High Court were of a criminal nature as no person could bring a civil suit or action against the Monarchy or its allies. The Commoners' Court was set up to solve disputes between commoners and dealt with the crimes of peasants. It was presided over by a magistrate.

George II, after his father, did not dissolve these courts, however did amend their mandates. The courts were now becoming more inclined toward justice, with the High Court deciding in favor of accused persons in several cases. The Commoners' Court was also given the power to recommend the High Court to adopt some of its cases. Subsequently, peasants were able to appeal to the High Court and have their disputes solved by the King or Justician General themselves. At rare occasions, George II found in favor of commoners over land owners, entrenching his image as a fairer king than his father.

George III changed the court system in 1855. The High Court became the Kingdom Court; Duchy Courts were established, and the Commoners' Court was expanded to become the Courts of Common Pleas (modeled after that of Britain). The Kingdom Court could now only hear cases involving the Monarchy, thus creating the ability for nobility and rich landowners to bring a suit or action against the Monarchy. The Duchy Courts became appeal courts for the Courts of Common Pleas, and were the highest court a peasant or commoner could appeal to. The Courts of Common Pleas retained the mandate of the Commoners' Courts however were made more accessible. Counts were now responsible for ensuring that their counties had at least one Court of Common Pleas and that these courts remained in good condition, and the work of the magistrates unimpeded. Dukes were responsible for the same concerning the Duchy Courts. These were some of the early acts which gave responsibilities rather than rights to the nobility.

This court system remained in effect until the passing of the 1913 Constitution, which created the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. In essence, the Supreme Court absorbed the Duchy Courts and Courts of Common Pleas, while the Constitutional Court absorbed the Kingdom Court. Subsequent legislation created more courts, namely and most importantly the Provincial Courts and the Court of Appeals. These courts are fully committed by the Constitution to its founding principles of Christianity, justice, fairness and equality. The Office of the Chief Justice was created to replace the Justician General in terms of judicial matters. The executive arm of the Justician General went on to become the leader of the newly established Ministry of Justice, as the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General.

Constitutional Crisis of 1946

Main article: Constitutional Crisis of 1946

The most controversial event concerning the judiciary is almost universally regarded as the 1946 Constitutional Crisis, when the King's Loyal Prosecutor Alexander Earle brought charges against King Brandon I, which ended up with the uniquely named The Throne vs. The Crown case. Charges of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and abuse of public office were brought against the King after he attempted to have the police investigation into the alleged sexual harassment complaint filed by a female maid working at the Royal Palace ignored, and the event covered up. The King personally approached the head investigator and tried to bride him, however failed, and subsequently approached the Attorney General, who immediately suspended the investigator for "suspicion of corruption, pending investigation". The investigator, foreseeing such an event, approached the King's Loyal Prosecuting Service prior to his suspension and handed in his hurriedly-completed investigation file.

The case was delegated to Prosecutor Alexander Earle, a veteran prosecutor with the Prosecuting Service. When word got out that the file had been given to the KLPS, the Attorney General also attempted to have Earle suspended, however, the Prosecutor General, Simon Guy, intervened, and under the Criminal Prosecutions Act of 1932, made Earle immune to suspension pending the outcome of the case. The case was brought in front of the Supreme Court as it is the court of first instance concerning cases against the Monarchy. The King, again, attempted to avoid the case and tried to bribe the Prosecutor General and Earle himself. The Prosecutor General then added obstruction of justice and to the charges and submitted himself as co-counsel in the case with Earle. The Supreme Court bench, upon discovery of the extent to which the situation had degraded, immediately referred the case to the Constitutional Court.

On the first day of the trial, the King's Counsel (for "The Crown"), Joshua Falken, an office established only days prior exactly for the purpose of this case, stated that even though the Constitution did not expressly protect the King from prosecution, he is immune because he is the source of sovereignty in Washingtonia, and thus the source of legitimacy of both the courts and the justice system. Only the Grand Assembly, Falken stated, can vote and declare the King incapable to execute his office. Earle, for "The Throne" contended that because the Constitution does not make provision for immunity from prosecution, the King is subject to criminal law, and that The Crown's defense is invalid.

The Throne also submitted the evidence regarding the sexual assault including witness testimonies regarding the attempted bribes. The Crown however did not defend these and stated that they will not continue with a case which is illegal in its nature and procedure. Subsequently, The Crown refused to defend and no longer attended court dates. Because of this, the Constitutional Court granted the Throne's motion for default judgement, and found the King guilty on all charges.

When the Washingtonian Police Department (WPD) arrived to arrest the King at the Royal Palace, the House Regiment refused them entry. Later that day the Monarchy released a statement on public radio that they do not recognize the ruling of the case and will conduct an investigation into the constitutionality of the ruling. House Regimenteers were ordered to arrest all Constitutional Court justices, the Prosecutor General and Earle for charges of obstruction of justice and abuse of public office. The President, Berland Page, intervened and called the orders illegal, and requested the Grand Assembly to declare the King incapable. The Assembly, however, consisting of a majority Union Nationalists, appropriately referred to as "the King's Party", who are loyal to the Monarchy, refused by way of an absent quorum. Neither the Speaker nor the Deputy Speaker were present at any more Assembly sessions during that period, thus leading to the Grand Assembly being dissolved by default. National elections were scheduled for the next month.

In the meantime, the President attempted to order the House Regiment to stand down by way of his authority as Commander in Chief, which was customarily recognized as the practical leader of the Armed Forces (as opposed to the King being General in Chief). Colonel Robert McFarley refused, stating that the King is the source of sovereignty and thus the leader of the national military. The Constitutional Court declared any official conduct by the King as unconstitutional after the arrests were avoided. It soon became apparent that there was a split in public opinion as well. Supporters of the King, mostly those who had supported his pledging of troops to France during the Second World War, on one side, and those who did not, on the other. The opposition to the King was greater, however. The King noticed this, and, wanting to avoid another civil war (the previous one of which he narrowly escaped with his life as an infant), approached the Prosecutor General to negotiate the charges and punishment. With both parties wanting to avoid armed conflict, they agreed to the Grand Assembly censuring the conduct of the King, and that the King being disallowed from coming near women other than those in his family. The King accepted this and issued a public apology, whereafter the entire event was mostly disguised as a miscommunication between the different branches of government.

The Prosecutor General, deciding that because of the events his working relationship with the Attorney General and King had deteriorated to such an extent that cooperation would be improbable, resigned. The President, impressed with Earle's determination and commitment to the rule of law, appointed Alexander Earle as the new Prosecutor General and eventually managed to force the Attorney General to resign. The President, with the subsequent Grand Assembly election, was removed from office and replaced by a much more pro-Monarchy president, Martin Laut. The Constitutional Crisis is considered the closest Washingtonia came to a second civil war.

Courts

Precedence: 1 = lowest, 5 = highest

Courts established by legislation

1. Municipal Tribunal(s)

Each locality in Washingtonia has at least one Municipal Tribunal, however, most have numerous. Rural or outlying hamlets or secluded residences fall under the jurisdiction of their nearest Municipal Tribunal. These tribunals solve small legal issues, such as small claims, traffic infractions and labor disputes. They are usually chaired by three 'tribunes' of which one must be a practicing attorney. These tribunals can only function as a 'court' of first instance, and set no precedent.

Municipal Tribunals do not follow a formalistic procedure or adhere to the ordinary rules or law of evidence. They were established with the explicit intention of saving costs for the parties to the dispute and making the process relatively easy and informal. Because taking a matter to the local Municipal Tribunal is a choice as an alternative to the Provincial Courts, no legal representation may appear with their clients. The tribunes play a inquisitorial role and must attempt to reconcile the parties.

Rulings by the tribunal are binding and cannot be appealed due to the insignificant loss any party is able to suffer.

2. Provincial Court(s)

Main article(s): Provincial Courts of Washingtonia, Provincial Courts Act of 1940

Finance Court

Main article(s): Finance Court of Washingtonia, Finance Court Act of 1947

Family Court

Main article(s): Family Court of Washingtonia, Family Court Act of 1976

Military Judicial Committee

Main article: Military Judicial Committee of Washingtonia

The Military Judicial Committee (MJC) is not a recognized court of law in the traditional sense of the phrase. Courts in Washingtonia must be established by the Grand Assembly in terms of the Constitution, however, the MJC was created through military regulations which derived their implied authority from provisions of the Penal Code. The Committee acts as a court martial which hears 'class F offences' and is presided over by military judges. The MJC holds the same hierarchical status as that of the Provincial Courts. The constitutionality of the Military Judicial Committee's existence has not been tested in the courts since its establishment, however, many scholars and academics believe this to be an inevitability.

3. Court of Appeals

Main article(s): Court of Appeals of Washingtonia, Court of Appeals Act of 1956

The Court of Appeals is the highest legislatively established court or judicial forum, created by means of the Court of Appeals Act of 1956. It is in most civil or criminal cases the last court appealed to because of the high costs involving appeal to the Supreme Court.

Military Judicial Review Committee

The Military Judicial Review Committee (MJRC) is the appeal 'court' within the Armed Forces, which hears appeals and reviews the decisions of the Military Judicial Committee (MJC). It is grounded in the same military regulations which established the MJC, and is equally expected to have its constitutionality tested in the courts in the future. Appeals from the Military Judicial Review Committee are to the Supreme Court.

Courts established by Constitution

Main article: Constitution of the Kingdom of Washingtonia

The Constitutional Assembly only made direct provision for two courts in the 1913 Constitution, namely the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of appeal for all non-constitutional matters, and the Constitutional Court, which is the absolute last court or forum of appeal for all matters. The Supreme Court is also the court of first instance for any case brought against the Monarchy, with universal appeal privileges to the Constitutional Court.

4. Supreme Court

Main article: Supreme Court of Washingtonia

5. Constitutional Court

Main article: Constitutional Court of Washingtonia

The Constitutional Court is the highest court of appeal in Washingtonia in terms of matters relating to the Constitution. It has a small scope of original jurisdictional cases, which are rare. It is headed by the Chief Justice, who is wrongly considered to be the head of the entire judiciary and he is assisted by four other justices. The Court can review any lower court's decisions, especially relating to administrative and constitutional law.

Case citations

Civil cases

Cases where two parties are involved:

  • [Party 1] vs. [Party 2], [case no.]-[year] [court code]

Criminal cases

King's Loyal Prosecuting Service:

  • The Throne vs. [Party], [case no.]-[year] [court code]

Cases tried by members of the public as per the Crimes Act of 1933:

  • The People vs. [Party], [case no.]-[year] [court code]

Court codes

  • Constitutional Court: CC
  • Supreme Court: SC
  • Court of Appeals: A
    • Military Judicial Review Committee: MiltRw
  • Provincial Courts
    • North Island: NI
    • South Island: SI
    • Misc courts (same hierarchical status as Provincial Courts)
      • Finance Court: Fin
      • Family Court: Fam
      • Military Judicial Committee: Milt

Municipal Tribunals have no code and are not reported. Cases are recorded and filed according to a registry number for reference by higher courts.

Criminal procedure

Main article: Criminal law in Washingtonia

Chap 2 Sec 4(d) of Constitution:

  • Tried by seven jurors or
  • Tried by three judges.

Jury trials

Judge trials

Washingtonia Law Reports

The Washingtonia Law Reports (WLR) is the official law report which codifies all precedent-setting cases from the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and the various other courts created through legislation. The Law Reports are entirely electronic and update on the internet (http://reports.judiciary.gov.wa) with every new case. At 23:00 on the last night of every December, a book-form version of that year's report is printed and shipped to legal libraries subscribed to it.

Judicial independence

Judicial independence, which includes judicial bias, as in most other jurisdictions, is a controversial issue in Washingtonia. Judges and other presiding officers are often said to be extremely conservative and elitist, usually finding in favor of more privileged or more well-established parties over the poor and needy. It is also alleged that the judiciary would always make an effort to find a case in favor of the government or Monarchy if they are a party, and if they cannot, they award the cost orders to the other party.

FEDERAL activists and lawyers have brought several suits in higher courts against the partiality of the lower courts, and have lost most. In a particular case, Schultz vs. Director (National Communications Intelligence Directorate), the FEDERAL attorney for the plaintiff on appeal alleged that the judge a quo (in the Court of Appeals) was partial and based his ruling on personal opinion and extrajudicial party affiliation. Judge Raines of the Supreme Court, who wrote the unanimous majority ruling, dismissed the allegation, citing that the judge a quo's ruling was sound and based in fact. Raines further stated that it was evident that FEDERAL was attempting to discredit the judge a quo, who had found in favor of state surveillance programs and wiretapping in the past. Raines awarded all costs to the plaintiff, which FEDERAL ended up covering themselves in a show of "good faith to the public".

Customs

  • Constitutional Court: Chief Justice, Justice
  • Supreme Court: Your Honor
  • Court of Appeals: Your Honor
    • Military Judicial Review Committee: Sir (or) Rank
  • Provincial Court: Your Worship
    • Family Court: Your Worship
    • Finance Court: Your Worship
    • Military Judicial Committee: Sir (or) Rank
  • Municipal Tribunal: Mister/Madam Tribune

See also

Kingdom of Washingtonia flag Law of Washingtonia
Core subjects Constitutional law | Administrative law | Private law | Criminal law
Further reading Human and civil rights | Royal prerogative | Legal profession
Legislation Acts of the Grand Washingtonian Assembly (Top/Chr)
Precedent Court of Appeals cases | Supreme Court cases | Const Court cases
Decrees and orders Royal decrees | Executive orders

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