Judicial Code of Practice

This page has been adopted by the PFA as an official policy.

Here, the Judicial Code of Practice (also referred to as the Judicial Code, the Code of Judicial Practice, or simply the JCP) is documented.

I. Personnel

The JAG Office is an out-of-character body designed to ensure fair, impartial, and equitable discharge of Pegasus Fleet’s rules and regulations.

  1. Judge Advocate General (JAG)
    1. Shall be a member of the Pegasus Fleet Admiralty.
    2. Shall be both an Office and a Member of the Court.
    3. Shall be responsible for maintaining the JAG Website, Forms, and other documents of the office.
    4. Is Responsible for presiding over administrative and appeal cases, unless a conflict of interest exists.
    5. Shall be responsible for the assignment of personnel to preside and be a part of judicial panels, including 2 alternates to be used in the event of conflicts of interest or a panel member disappearing during a trial.
    6. Administers the Membership Rolls of Judicial Advocates (JAs), As well as approval of all Judicial Advocate training course materials.
    7. The JAG has the authority to conduct investigations subject to the consent of the PFA. The Office shall possess the full power and authority necessary to carry out such investigations once consent is granted.
    8. May hear and rule on points of law presented by Fleet Members.
    9. May Delegate their authority and responsibilities as needed on a temporary basis.
  2. Divisional JAG (DJAG)
    1. Shall not hold a position of XO or higher in the Task Force they represent, unless there is only 1 Task Force in existence.
    2. Shall be both an Office and a Member of the Court.
    3. Shall be responsible for presiding over Divisional Trials where the defendant's character is in the Task Force they represent, unless a conflict of interest exists.
    4. Shall be responsible for presiding over or hearing other trials as assigned by the JAG.
    5. One DJAG shall be noted as senior over the rest by the JAG, and shall act as the departmental Deputy as set forth in the Fleet Constitution.
      1. Shall be responsible for overseeing the Training of JAs.
      2. Shall not hold a position on the Pegasus Fleet Admiralty.
      3. Shall assume the duties and responsibilities of the JAG in the event of the JAG taking a Leave of Absence, being otherwise unavailable, or the position becoming vacant, until such time as a replacement is appointed.
      4. Shall hear Divisional Trials where the defendant is in the PFA, unless a conflict of interest exists.
  3. Assistant JAG (AJAG)
    1. Shall be both an Office and a Member of the Court.
    2. Shall be responsible for hearing or presiding over cases as assigned by the JAG.
    3. Shall be used to fill in as needed and assigned by the JAG.
  4. Temporary Judicial Officer (TJO)
    1. Shall be both an Officer and a Member of the Court.
    2. Shall be appointed on a temporary basis for hearing or presiding over a single trial.
    3. Shall either be an accredited JA or have attained the minimum rank of Captain.
  5. Judicial Advocate (JA)
    1. Shall be an Office of the Court only while reprenting someone in a case.
    2. Shall have either completed an appropriate course of training or (Honorary) have provided service with distinction to the courts.
    3. Shall have been admitted to the Rolls of the Judicial Advocates by the JAG.
  6. Temporary Advocate (TA)
    1. Shall be an Officer of the Court only while reprenting someone in a case.
    2. Shall be someone directly above or below the character undergoing a court-martial in the chain of command.
    3. Shall have attained the minimal rank of Commander with the character in the chain of command of the character undergoing a court-martial.
    4. Shall have the approval to act as representation from the character undergoing court-martial.

II. Courts of the Fleet

The JAG Office convenes 4 different courts as needed to provide services to the fleet.

  1. Emergency Court
    1. Emergency Petitions may be filed with jagoffice@pegasusfleet.net to provide quick relief prior to or when filing a Writ of the appropriate type.
    2. Emergency Petitions are heard on a first come first serve basis by the JAG or one of the DJAGs.
    3. The (D)JAG hearing the petition should consider it on its merits and may grant it (by issuing an Emergency Order) or deny it. A brief opinion explaining the decision must be issued.
    4. An Emergency Order, if issued, shall place a freeze on whatever action the Emergency Petition wished to prevent until a full trial can be convened. As a rule Emergency Orders are considered upheld for the length of a trial unless discharged.
  2. Administrative Court
    1. Is limited in it's scope to administrative decisions of the Fleet.
    2. Decisions may only be challenged on the following grounds:
      1. Illegality - The decision is against Fleet Law, or is outside the powers of the initiator. eg: A Chief Medical Officer relieves the Commanding Officer of duty because the CO likes country western music.
      2. Unreasonableness - The decision is not within the reasonable bounds of response or is irrational. eg: A TFCO removing a CO because he know them in real life and they didn't go to the store for them to fetch some doughnuts.
      3. Procedural Impropriety - The proper procedures were not followed. eg: A memo isn't passed up all steps of the chain of command that are required, a level is skipped.
    3. May not issue disciplinary measures outside of contempt, as this falls outside the bounds of the court's authority.
    4. The decisions of this court are not subject to appeal.
  3. Divisional Court
    1. Shall not hear cases involving discipline in the first instance. Discipline in the first instance is a function of the chain of command, rather than the Divisional Court.
    2. A Defendant may request a general court-martial when they have been disciplined, or when they are about to be disciplined.
    3. With the Defendant's permission, may convene a field court-martial consisting solely of the presiding judicial officer with no representation on either side. This tends to offer a speedier verdict as less people are involved.
    4. Shall be responsible for determining the guilt or innocense of the Defendant based on the evidence provided by both sides.
    5. If the Defendant is pronouced innocent, the court will issue orders to remedy the situation as the court finds appropriate. It is of note that the court may order the re-assignment of the defendant to another ship through the DPM or TFCO, where they would hold the same character and rank as where they had held initially if the presiding officer feels that the character would face problems due to the case.
    6. If the Defendant is pronounced Guilty of either the original charges or lesser ones, the court can either uphold the original punishment issued by the chain of command, modify these punishments, or issue completely new ones. It is to be noted that while the court may uphold strikes, it may not issue strikes on it's own authority as strikes are a function of the chain of command.
  4. Appellate Court
    1. Shall not hear cases unless they have already gone through the Divisional Court.
    2. Shall have all information from the original case made available to it.
    3. The Panel for an Appellate trial may not consist of any members of the original Divisional Trial.
    4. Shall hear cases based on:
      1. Procedural impropriety.
      2. Error of fact.
      3. New evidence which would disprove the verdict.
      4. New evidence which would give cause to mitigate the sentencing.
    5. May, depending on it's findings, Dismiss, Uphold, or modify either the Verdict or the Sentence of the original Court.

III. Trial Procedures

This covers the general procedures to be used by the Administrative, Divisional and Appellate courts.

  1. Pre-trial
    1. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a case is started by the filing of a Writ. Writs must be filed within seven (7) days of the decision or disciplinary measures for which the Writ was filed for unless portions of the LOA policy affect this time limit. Writs should be filled out as completely as possible, including the appointment of any eligible and willing Advocates, any available evidence, and requests for pre-trial motions should be included with the writ. Writs are available in the Forms section of the jag site.
    2. The prosecution may charge a defendant in separate counts with 2 or more offenses if the offenses charged are of the same or similar character, or are based on the same act or transaction, or are connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan.
    3. The prosecution may charge 2 or more defendants if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction, or in the same series of acts or transactions, constituting an offense or offenses. The defendants may be charged in one or more counts together or separately. All defendants need not be charged in each count.
    4. The JAG may order that separate cases be tried together as though brought in a single complaint if all offenses and all defendants could have been joined in a single complaint. This does not apply where the cases are in different courts.
    5. Once a Writ has been received, the JAG shall review the information contained within the Writ to determine whether the case has merit.
    6. If it is felt that the Writ is incomplete or incompetent, the JAG will send the Writ back to its sender with instructions on correcting the problems and the sender will have seven (7) days in which to return a corrected version, regardless of the original time limit for filing the Writ. This step may only occur once.
    7. If the information in the Writ is felt to fall instead under the authority of the chain of command, the JAG will refer the information to the appropriate Fleet Member.
    8. If it is felt that the case has no merit, the JAG will inform both the sender and the other party of this and no case shall be heard. The JAG should err on the side of caution whenever making such a decision so that justice is never set by the wayside.
    9. If the Writ is felt to have merit, The JAG will have seven (7) days to gather an appropriate judicial panel (or just a presiding officer in the case of a field court-martial) for the case. Panels will consist of one presiding officer and 2 additional eligible panel members.
    10. Once a panel has been gathered, the presiding officer will, with advice from the JAG, issue a Summons (again found in the forms section of the JAG website) including all the information from the Writ and any preliminary orders meant to hold peace with both parties of the dispute until the case can be heard. These orders will be in effect till the end of the hearing, unless specifically upheld in the decision of the case.
    11. Once a Summons has been issued, the other party will have seven (7) days to provide their evidence, appointment of any willing and eligible Advocates to act as representation, as well as any requests for pre-trial motions.
    12. If no Advocate is chosen, and a party consists of more than one member, that party shall chose one person to act as their representative to the court.
  2. In-Trial
    1. The Presiding Officer will make sure all members of the panel and all participants are privy to all communications of the case.
    2. All participants should remember that being disruptive or disrespectful of the court is grounds for special charges called "Contempt of Court", which are decided there and then by the presiding officer of the case. This may involve disciplinary actions or even the dismissal of the case, with or without bias if continued.
    3. Parties shall take turns presenting futher arguments with seven (7) day time limits. The defendant will always be heard last.
    4. If either side fails to respond in the allotted time, either with additional evidence or a motion for an extension, the court may decide the case summarily.
  3. Post-Trial
    1. The Panel shall deliberate on both the verdict and the sentencing. Mitigating factors may affect the final charges and sentencing, but not the verdict.
    2. The Panel shall write up formal public Opinions to make known the thought processes that they went through in determining both the Verdict and Sentencing (if any) of the defendant or the response (if an Administratice Trial). This will be used to assist future Panel members, Judicial Advocates in training, and help in clarifying any precedents that the case may establish.
    3. The decision in a Panel trial need not be unanimous, a majority will suffice and the sentencing should be averaged as possible. The Presiding Officer will publish all opinions, the verdict, and the sentencing or the response through the appropriate Opinion form (available in the Forms section of the JAG website.) This should also include any final orders that need to be issued.
    4. The presiding officer shall pass all information and documents involved in the case to the JAG to be filed appropriately on the JAG website.
    5. The presiding officer may refer additional case(s) in the form of Writs to the JAG because of evidence provided in the Trial.

IV. Offenses

These are the offenses which are officially recognized by the Divisional Court.

  1. Severity - All offenses shall have a severity attached to them. Generally it is best to charge for the highest severity you think you can win, as all lesser severities will be considered if the one charged is put aside.
    1. Basic - The least severe, affecting a single person.
    2. Serious - It is committed purposely, knowingly or recklessly and the commission of such Offense significantly affects multiple members of the fleet.
    3. Gross - It is committed purposely and the commission of such Offense significantly affects multiple members of the fleet or more; and the severity of the conduct in question greatly exceeds the severity necessary to constitute the Offense.
  2. General Offenses - These are non-specific offenses that are used as catch-alls to cover situations that have not been covered by specific ones.
    1. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer (CUBO) - Action by a Fleet Member which dishonors or disgraces the officer’s station, the officer’s ship, the Fleet or any other Fleet Member.
    2. Professional Misconduct - Any wrongful act performed by a Fleet Member in an official capacity.
    3. Personal Misconduct - Any wrongful act performed by a Fleet Member outside their official capacity.
  3. Specific Offenses - These are used instead of General Offenses wherever possible.
    1. Contravention - Violation of Fleet Regulation. Action that goes against the laws of the Fleet: Fleet Constitution, Fleet Policy, By-Law or Standing Order. eg: Violating the LOA Policy would be stated as "Contravention of LOA Policy".
    2. Insubordination - Refusal to obey a lawful order from a superior officer or officer in command.
    3. Libel - Defamation of a person or organization by written or representational means. A person is not guilty of this Offense if the statements that constituted the defamation are true.
    4. Perjury - Purposely lying to a Court of the Fleet.
    5. Judicial Tampering - An attempt to influence or exert pressure on a court, appellate panel, jury or member thereof.
    6. Contempt of Court - Disrespect of the court’s authority, or the purposeful or knowing disobedience of a lawful court order.
    7. Conspiracy -A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person(s) to commit an Offense if, with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission, they agree with such other person(s) that they or one or more of them will engage in such conduct that constitutes such Offense or agrees to aid such person(s) in the planning or commission of such Offense.
    8. Complicity - A person is guilty of an offense if it is committed by their own conduct or by the conduct of another person for which they are accountable, or both. A person is accountable for the conduct of another when they cause an innocent or irresponsible person to engage in such conduct, or they are an accomplice of another person in the commission of the offense. A person is an accomplice of another person in the commission of an offense if, with the purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense, they solicit such other person to commit it or they aid, agree, or attempt to aid such other person in planning or committing it.
    9. Dereliction of Duty - A person is guilty of this offence if they have not performed the duties of their office to a degree where it presents the possibility of a loss of fleet members or other negative effects due to their inactivity.

V. Terminology and Definitions

These are meant to make clear some of the terms and concepts used in this document

  1. Motions - Requests from the prosecution or defense to the court for court orders are called Motions. The motion must state with particularity the grounds for seeking the order and state the relief sought. Motions are not always granted and may be denied. Some common motions are:
    1. To Strike - This motion requests that a piece of evidence be striken from the case records and must include a specific reason for the exclusion.
    2. Extension - If one party in the case is in need of extra time to present their argument, they may present a motion for an extension.
    3. Subpoena - This requests the court to require the testimony of a witness in a case. The witness whom the court has subpoenaed is required to respond or face contempt charges, however, the court may not force a witness to provide testimony that will incriminate themselves.
    4. Summary Judgement - Is a request to end the trial at the current point. Evidence already submitted is to be considered in a light favorable to the non-moving party.
    5. To Rest - Is a request to end the trial at the current point. Evidence already submitted will be considered on its own merit with no bias. Evidence or argument may not be presented with the request to rest. Whenever one side rests in-trial, it ends the case as the defense will always have had the last word.
    6. Dismissal - Is a request to end the trial immediately in favor of the non-moving party. Usually this is done to end a trial that has been proven against the moving party.
    7. New Trial - Is a request for the court to vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires. If the case was tried without a Panel, the court may take additional testimony and enter a new judgment.
    8. To Seal - Is a request for an Order of Sub-Judice. Usually the request will be granted at least during the trial, but it is up to the presiding officer to determine whether the information presented during the trial is of a sensitive enough nature to Uphold the order once the trial is concluded.
  2. Orders commonly issued by the court. Orders made during the pre- and in-trial phases expire after the trial is concluded unless specifically upheld in the Opinion.
    1. Order of Certiorari - An order which voids/quashes a decision of a Fleet Member.
    2. Order of Discharge - An order cancelling a previous order.
    3. Order of Interdict - An order requiring a Fleet Member not to do something.
    4. Order of Mandamus - An order requiring a Fleet Member to do something.
    5. Order of Sub-Judice - A form of Order of Interdict which requires all participants (including the judicial panel) in a trial to not discuss the case with those not involved.
    6. Order Extraordinary - An order which allows JAG to do something that is within it's authority, but not covered by the other orders.
  3. Trial Medium - Trials will be conducted by e-mail. All arguments, motions, and other submissions to the court should be sent to the presiding officer and cc’d to the opposing party and, if present in the case, the rest of the judicial panel. At the option of the presiding officer, a list server/service such as YahooGroups or GoogleGroups may be used to simplify making sure everyone gets all submissions.
  4. Conflicts pf Interest - Where a member of the court (not an officer of the court) acting on a judicial panel or as a presiding officer has a vested interest in a specific outcome of a trial. Members of the court are expected to excuse themselves if such circumstances exist. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    1. Is directly above or below one of the parties involved in a trial.
    2. Is or was in a romantic relationship with one of the parties involved in a trial.