This isn't the first time I've reported on, in one way or another, our broken down judicial system. It certainly isn't the first for this publication, either. It seems that every article dealing with whatever the latest wave making case tends to always references one or more countless setbacks--mostly delays--at every level involved in our lovely Kingdom, population 256. Every time a new Government is sworn in, the first Clark of a newly assembled Cosa enters its hallowed halls, the judiciary becomes a topic necessary to discuss, whether its because of another resignation, an inactive Justice or Clerk, a legal loophole that was recently pointed out and needs to be closed, or just the slow, rusty, grinding wheels of a judicial system that never seems to get anything accomplished.
As I've noted in a recent issue, judicial reform has boomeranged back around to the forefront of Talossan politics, while the dust still gathers on cases that have been pending for months. One of the most intriguing aspects of this particular issue is that it seems to unite the general membership of all parties, as if all of our legislators representing every political niche in our Nation gather in a large circle, hold hands, and promise to each other and themselves that this particular bill is definitely going to solve the insurmountable problem of inactivity in the Corts. It is, and should be, a uniting issue; we need a judicial system that will be able to adequately enforce the plethora of new laws that we pass every month... don't we?
Every time the issue is addressed in someway within the Ziu, we magically witness the lights turn on back in The Corthouse. Like clockwork, the Clerk will appear, the magistrates and Justices will all take their cobweb covered seats again, and entertain a trial for as long as they have the time to do so. At some point along the way, updates to the thread that contains these proceedings begin to slowdown. Deadlines are missed by a couple days here, a few weeks there...eventually, the proceedings stop, and legislators are once again gearing up for another discussion on judicial reform. So much for a speedy trial.
The latest case is only just another example. We find at least two of our most prominent citizens, as well as our Monarch, being implicated in a grand criminal conspiracy that is an offshoot of the ESB affair, and how it was handled a little over two years ago. The case was sparked after one of the individuals involved, Asmourescu, leaked chat logs and emails from his time in the RUMP; in particular, chat logs between he and Ma la Mha, who purportedly advised Asmourescu not to recuse himself as a Justice in a possible ESB related Cort matter, even though Asmourescu is the investigator who is gathering evidence against ESB. Additionally, Ma la Mha is accused of contacting King John to secure a promise of knighthood for Asmourescu in exchange for his silence (or lack of recusal) with regards to his involvement in the investigation.
If the charges are found by our illustrious judiciary to be true, then it is perhaps one of the most incredible scandals that Talossa has ever experienced, and those involved should rightfully be punished to the fullest extent of Talossan law. This article, however, is neither meant to exonerate or cast blame with regards to the charges. No matter what the eventual outcome of this case is, the accusations and charges leveled against these individuals are extremely serious, and should be afforded the highest level of care. Unfortunately, isn’t the case so far.
To the Government’s credit, former Attorney-General Magniloqueu Épiqeu da Lhiun seemed to work diligently and efficiently in the initial stage of prosecution, filing the complaint roughly a month following the now infamous leak of the Asmourescu Papers that revealed the purported criminal conspiracy. The initial complaint was completed roughly a month following the leak, in August of 2014, and submitted to the Clerk of Corts with the naive expectation of it being filed and assigned within a reasonable timeframe. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Following a Terpelaziun from Membreu dal Cosa Sir Alexandreu Davinescu in December of 2014/XXXV, inquiring as to the status of the complaint, it was forwarded by Seneschal Lüc da Schir to the Clerk, who finally acknowledged receipt of the complaint and had it assigned to an active magistrate the same day. It was forwarded by Seneschal da Schir because, unfortunately, Attorney-General da Lhiun had himself fallen to the curse of Talossan inactivity during the months of waiting—possibly due to the lack of movement by the judiciary. Da Schir recommended the appointment of a new A-G following the filing of the complaint, Membreu dal Cosa Dr. Txec dal Nordselva. And even before his appointment was made official, Nordselva entered the Cortroom to file a motion requesting the recusal of Magistrate Beneditsch Ardpresteir, which was almost immediately dismissed.
Seneschal da Schir appointed Munditenens Txec Patritz da Biondeu to represent the Government in this particular case, which was restated by now officially appointed AG Nordselva. Da Biondeu then renewed Nordselva’s previously dismissed motion for recusal, restating it word for word. The request centers around Magistrate Ardpresteir’s ability to remain impartial in this case because of his connection to the RUMP party, which finds itself in the center of this conspiracy. (Not only due to one of it’s founders being the principal defendant, but also because of its ties to the other Asmourescu Papers, which were otherwise leaks of emails exchanged within the RUMP’s private Yahoo group.) A previous statement made by Ardpresteir in another section of Wittenberg was given as evidence to back both motions for recusal, which reads, “When I am in the Courthouse on the Bench, I’m totally apolitical, but elsewhere I do the RUMP dance.” Magistrate Ardpresteir rejected the request for recusal, pointing to the statement proffered as evidence, which he believes shows his impartiality. Following the rejection, the request was renewed a second time by da Biondeu, who noted that “The Honorable Beneditsch Ardpresteir has a vested interest in this case - his own parties’ reputation.” Da Biondeu’s request was denied.
Throughout the requests for recusal, the case proceeded; upon being assigned to the case, one of Magistrate Ardpresteir’s first orders was for the Government to produce the names the other defendants in the case. It seems the initial complaint accidentally omitted all but one defendant in title of the case, while titling it as “People vs Ma la Mha, et. al.” Seneschal da Schir, while acting as the AG at this time, requested time to review the complaint, to be able to add Asmourescu as a named defendant.
This entire time, the Government has implicated the King as being part of this conspiracy, which if true, is incredibly and rightfully damaging to the reputation of the Monarchy; however, it seems to have decided not to charge the King with a crime, even while it implicates the King within the complaint. Was it ever the intention of the Government to charge the King, and if not, why not?
The request for time to submit an amended complaint to reflect both la Mha and Asmourescu was granted, but an amended complaint was not filed by the deadline set by Magistrate Ardpresteir. Even so, he recognized Asmourescu as a defendant in the case, and ordered both defendants to file a response within 10 days of January 20th, 2015.
That was the last time Magistrate Ardpresteir has made an appearance in Cort, though he's recently stated in the Witt Shoutbox that he will be returning soon.
In the meantime, defense attorney for la Mha, Sir C.M. Siervicül, requested a few seemingly uncontested requests for extensions of time, and submitted a motion to dismiss on February 10th. Among other things, his motion to dismiss cited perhaps the most glaring Talossan legal loophole to date, that the Corts do not have jurisdiction over defendants in these cases because the alleged criminal activity does not take place within the actual borders of Talossa.
Following backlash from several notable Talossans, some who accused him of essentially destroying the entire foundation of the Talossan legal system, Siervicül withdrew the portions of his motion to dismiss that dealt with the jurisdictional arguments, and the loophole has since been fixed by Prime Dictate.
Finally, another motion was made by AG Nordselva for recusal, this time citing Ardpresteir's failure to appear in the cort for at least 20 days at the time the motion was made.
This case makes for one of the most exciting events that have occurred in the judiciary within the last few years, though it too has fallen into inactivity as the others have. And so, it's once again time to talk about judicial reform.
A few bills have been proposed by AG Nordselva in recent days to fix the judiciary, including an amendment that would abolish the Magistracy and create a simpler judicial system that relies on an expanded CpI, while preserving a right of appeal. Additionally, a second bill was Hoppered that would mandate that, upon a delay of 60 days, a justice would be "deemed to have voluntary resigned from the bench." This bill would also require the Clerk to assign cases within 30 days, or they will be ejected from office.
Both bills seem to be well thought out and drafted proposals that would fix our longstanding problems with inactivity. But no one has yet mentioned that we already passed a bill allowing for Cort officials to be removed due to inactivity. The "NOLITE IN IVRE PIGRARI" Act (46RZ8), created a system that allows the Ministry of Justice to initiate investigations into wrongful activity of judges or other officers of the Cort (including Clerks), which includes lengthy delays. However, to this reporter's knowledge, the powers granted to the Ministry from this piece of legislation have yet to be exercised.
While I sincerely hope that we have now found a fix to the longstanding problem of inactivity in our judiciary, given our history, I'm not sure that we won't just revisit the topic of judicial reform again in another year. Who knows? Perhaps I'm just too pessimistic.