Court Rulings Posts

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Mahaj on the Limitations set by the Council of 5 in regards to World Assembly Voting

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Mahaj.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

3. Participation in the governmental authorities of the region is voluntary. Participation in the World Assembly shall not be a condition of participation in the governmental authorities of the region.

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

10. Each Nation entitled to a vote in any manner under the fundamental laws of the region is entitled to the equal treatment and protection of that Nation's right to vote.
The Court took the following into consideration:

The Bill of Rights allows for equal and fair protection of any nation of the North Pacific under the terms and provisions of the Constitution as well as stipulating that World Assembly participation shall not be a condition for participation in the government authorities of the region. The Bill of Rights also protects a nations right to vote in any manner under the fundamental laws of the region.

Before making a decision the Court had to answer the following questions:

  1. Is the Delegate voting in the World Assembly a "government authority"?
  2. Is voting in the World Assembly protected under the "fundamental laws" of the region?

In response to the above questions the Court has determined the following:

As to the first question, The Delegate and all elected or appointed officials are Government Authorities however the Delegate's vote in the World Assembly is not and shall not be considered a "government authority". It is the belief of the Court that Clause 3 of the Bill of Rights was meant to allow a nation to serve in the Government without having a World Assembly nation in the Region and does not protect a nations right to determine the Delegate's World Assembly Vote.

As to the second question, The Court reviewed the Constitution and Legal Code and came to a conclusion there is no law whatsoever dictating how the Delegate must vote in World Assembly matters.

The Court therefore opines the following:

The law enacted by the Council of 5 does not break a nations rights or any law as set out by the Bill of Rights, Constitution and/or Legal Code. The right to vote in World Assembly matters is not protected under any provision in the Bill of Rights, Constitution, or Legal Code. Therefore the Council of 5 was not in violation of a nations rights under the legal documents of the North Pacific.

Ruling delivered on 25 September 2012.
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Unibot on Clause 9 of the Bill of Rights

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Unibot.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Clause 9 of the Bill of Rights said:
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The Court took into consideration the following previous rulings of the Court:

Ruling on Residency and Forum Administration as made on 6 August 2010 as found here.
[Please note: Both Associate Justice FALCONKATS and Eluvatar have had the opportunity over the last two or three weeks to review this opinion in its draft form. There having been no objection from them, it is now published as the response of the Court to the Request by Flemingovia.

Also, the attachments relates to the Forum Terms of Use, Terms of Service, and Board Rules will be separately reposted in the General Announcements area of the Forum for future reference by all forum users.
]


The Court has received the following request for a ruling from Flemingovia, in his capacity as an Admin of the official forum:

I ask for a ruling from the justices of TNP, in respect of an administration decision.

The Bill of Rights is quite clear and specific. It offers protection to Nations of the North Pacific. This is even in the title: The Bill of Rights for all Nations of The North Pacific

I refer to section 8 of the Bill of Rights for all nations of the North Pacific:

8. No Nation shall be ejected from the region, or banned from any forum, except as expressly authorized by this Constitution or the Legal Code. Should any official of a government authority of the region with authority to act, declare that the immediate ejection or banning of a Nation is an urgent matter of regional security, the ejected or banned Nation shall have prompt and immediate recourse to judicial review of the matter. The WA Delegate shall not exercise the power of ejection or banning unless expressly authorized by a specific action of a government authority of the region pursuant to this Constitution or to the Legal Code.
My question is this: What protection (if any) is offered by our law to nations which are not resident in TNP? Specifically, if I as Admin were to preemptively IP ban a player who has no nation in TNP, and presently no account on this forum, what would be the legality of my actions under TNP law?
There are two separate issues involved in this request.

First, what is the scope of the protection of The Bill of Rights for those Nations not resident in The North Pacific?

Second, in constitutional terms, what is the scope of authority for the administrators of the official regional forum?

The Bill of Rights, by its terms, protects those who are "resident" in The North Pacific. Not every nation present within TNP at Nationstates is a "resident," and not every "resident" is always within TNP.

Who is a "resident" in terms of TNP law? Primarily those Nations who choose to be here and be a part of the regional society; who conduct their in-game activity as a part of TNP, and who identify with TNP as their home region.

A Nation that is born (or created) in TNP does not automatically have residency. Residency requires both presence and some act consistent with that Nation’s intent to remain and become part of TNP (as opposed to any other region). Thus, acts such as voting or making a proposal in the World Assembly, making or seeking "endorsements" in-game with other Nations within TNP, or modifying their National profile at Nationstates.net while that Nation is within TNP are indications of that intent to be a "resident."[*]

A Nation that enters TNP as a representative or agent of some other region at Nationstates does not become a "resident", because they lack that intention that is necessary for residency. Likewise, a Nation that departs TNP at Nationstates.net with the intention to return and resume residency and is acting for or at the request of TNP authorities retains their residency here, as that Nation has not abandoned its residency.

Absent some legislative action that leads to a broader view of residency, then, a Nation which has not been a "resident" of TNP is not protected under our Bill of Rights until and unless they become a "resident" here. The answer to the first question, therefore, is "None."

Turning to the second issue, that is, the authority of Admins, Global Mods, and mods within the official forums as compared to the authority of government officials, requires one to precisely state what that authority is. The Admin have primary responsibility for enforcement of the "terms of service," [1] the "terms of use," [2] and the supplemental forum rules [3] that govern the forums. The forum moderation team has primary authority to enforce that body of rules, while many government officials have a limited amount of authority as forum moderators to assist in their enforcement.

A forum administrator’s primary obligation is to protect the integrity of the designated official forums on behalf of the regional community. If the constitutional process so permit, the members of the forum administration team not otherwise holding a government office, may exercise a very limited form of government power within the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the Legal Code, and subject to the protections and limitations provided by the three central documents of TNP law.

Thus, in response to this question:
Specifically, if I as Admin were to preemptively IP ban a player who has no nation in TNP, and presently no account on this forum, what would be the legality of my actions under TNP law?
the answer depends on whether the grounds for such an action are based upon a perceived threat of violation of the body of forum rules, or a threat of violation of TNP law. If it is the former, then the Admin is acting within the Admin’s proper authority to protect the forums; if it is the latter, then the Admin should secure from an appropriate government official approval under paragraphs 8, 9, and 11 of the Bill of Rights [4] before imposing such a ban from the forums. Inasmuch as there are distinct review processes for these decisions under the Constitution and Bill of Rights as to government decisions, and by the moderation review process put in place by the forum moderation team for the team’s non-governmental decisions, the requirements of due process are met so long as the review processes are followed in good faith. Thus, where the reason for the imposition of an IP ban is based on protecting the integrity of the forums, then the Admin is exercising their core responsibility to the forums and the community. If the IP ban is to further any other governmental policy or purpose, approval by the appropriate "governmental authorities of the region" under paragraphs 8 and 11 of the Bill of Rights is required.

Notes

[*] To be clear, this phrasing is intended to exclude the out-of-region solicitors posting on the RMB at Nationstates.net from being defined as a resident, as well as those who come to the regional forums and join as representatives of any other region.

[1] – See http://www.zetaboards.com/tos/

[2] – See http://www.zetaboards.com/tou/

[3] – According to the content of the "Board Rules" currently posted within the forums’ Administator Control Panel, the content of the Board Rules are as follows:

HTML:
<p>Welcome to The North Pacific! We hope you will enjoy your time spent in our region, the largest in NationStates!

<p>While posting here, please make sure you adhere to InvisionFree's Terms of Service. Yes, we all know that nobody actually reads the TOS when you register, regardless of the fact they make you check that little box. But what they want you to do as a forum user is to not post anything profane or illegal. If you've got any questions about what that may entail, check out the Terms of Service by clicking the link at the bottom of the screen, or send a PM to an Administrator (anyone whose name appears in blue on the member list). We'll be happy to answer your questions.

<p>So again, have fun, and thanks for coming to The North Pacific!

<p><b><i> - The North Pacific Administration Team</b></i>

<p><b>Appendix 1: Warning System</b>

<p>When a violation of TOS or other forum rules occurs, a warning may be issued to a member's account. Warnings are set in 20% intervals, and each comes with a pre-determined sentence. Warnings issued will not be removed except by majority vote of the moderation team, or in special circumstances in which case administration reserves the right to change warning levels as needed.

Moderation levels:

20% warning - 5 hour mod preview
40% - 1 day mod preview
60% - 5 hour post suspension, 3 day mod preview
80% - 3 day post suspension, 1 week mod preview
100% - 1 week post suspension, indefinite mod preview

And should, after 100%, TOS or forum rules violations continue, an IP ban will be enforced.

<i>Definitions:

Mod Preview: A mod must review posts before they are publically viewable
Post Suspension: The member cannot post, but can still use other forum services and read topics.
IP Ban: Prevents a single computer or internet connection from accessing the forum. Other ban methods may be used if a single IP proves ineffective.</i>

<p><b>Appendix 2: Signature Image Restrictions</b>

<p>In an effort to ensure that all members can access this forum easily, large images will no longer be allowed in signatures. Large images greatly slow the amount of time it takes for a page to load over a slow connection, and repeated attempts to load such a page may cause further problems. Therefore, we require that images in signatures be no longer than this box:
<a href="http://i2.ifrm.com/5256/179/upload/p500614.jpg"><img src="http://i2.ifrm.com/5256/179/upload/p500614.jpg" alt="Maximum Size of Images in Sigs. Click box to view image."></a>
<p>...and that signatures containing images be no larger than this box:
<a href="http://i2.ifrm.com/5256/179/upload/p876640.jpg"><img src="http://i2.ifrm.com/5256/179/upload/p876640.jpg" alt="Maximum Size of Signatures Containing Images. Click box to view image."></a>

<b>Appendix 3: Personal Messages</b>

In order to respect the privacy of our members, the moderation team has agreed on the following guideline:

"You may not post personal messages in a public area of the forum without the author's permission.

Members of the government, Administrators, and Moderators may post PMs (without prior permission) in secure areas of the forum in order to perform the duties of their office, for matters of regional security, or for moderation evidence."

If a PM is posted and the original author objects to a moderator, the PM will be removed from the post, unless it clearly falls within the exceptions listed. If you believe you are being harassed by the PM system, please forward the PM in question to a moderator and the issue will be dealt with. Thank you.
[4] The Bill of Rights provide:

The Bill of Rights for all Nations of The North Pacific

1. All Nations of The North Pacific are sovereign. Each Nation has the right of self-determination in that Nation's domestic policies, including, but not limited to, issue selection and WA membership.

2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under this Constitution.

3. Participation in the governmental authorities of the region is voluntary. Participation in the World Assembly shall not be a condition of participation in the governmental authorities of the region.

4. No Nation of The North Pacific holding WA member status in NationStates shall be obligated to endorse any official of a government authority of the region. The right to add an endorsement or withdraw an endorsement is a sovereign right of that Nation as a WA member.

5. All Nations of The North Pacific have the right to be protected against the abuse of powers by any official of a government authority of the region. Any Nation of The North Pacific has the right to request the recall of any official of a government authority of the region in accordance with this Constitution, that is deemed to have participated in such acts.

6. No Nation shall be held to answer for a crime in a manner not prescribed by this Constitution or the Legal Code. No Nation shall be subjected to being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. No Nation shall ever be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against itself.

7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer. In any criminal proceeding, a Nation is presumed innocent unless guilt is proven to the fact finder by reasonably certain evidence. A Nation may be represented by any counsel of the Nation's choosing. No Nation convicted of a crime shall be subject to a punishment disproportionate to that crime.

8. No Nation shall be ejected from the region, or banned from any forum, except as expressly authorized by this Constitution or the Legal Code. Should any official of a government authority of the region with authority to act, declare that the immediate ejection or banning of a Nation is an urgent matter of regional security, the ejected or banned Nation shall have prompt and immediate recourse to judicial review of the matter. The WA Delegate shall not exercise the power of ejection or banning unless expressly authorized by a specific action of a government authority of the region pursuant to this Constitution or to the Legal Code.

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of this Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

10. Each Nation entitled to a vote in any manner under the fundamental laws of the region is entitled to the equal treatment and protection of that Nation's right to vote.

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard this Constitution or the Legal Code In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of this Constitution.

Ruling on World Assembly Voting Policy as adopted by the Council of 5 on 25 September 2012 as found here
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Mahaj on the Limitations set by the Council of 5 in regards to World Assembly Voting

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Mahaj.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

3. Participation in the governmental authorities of the region is voluntary. Participation in the World Assembly shall not be a condition of participation in the governmental authorities of the region.

9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.

10. Each Nation entitled to a vote in any manner under the fundamental laws of the region is entitled to the equal treatment and protection of that Nation's right to vote.
The Court took the following into consideration:

The Bill of Rights allows for equal and fair protection of any nation of the North Pacific under the terms and provisions of the Constitution as well as stipulating that World Assembly participation shall not be a condition for participation in the government authorities of the region. The Bill of Rights also protects a nations right to vote in any manner under the fundamental laws of the region.

Before making a decision the Court had to answer the following questions:

  1. Is the Delegate voting in the World Assembly a "government authority"?
  2. Is voting in the World Assembly protected under the "fundamental laws" of the region?

In response to the above questions the Court has determined the following:

As to the first question, The Delegate and all elected or appointed officials are Government Authorities however the Delegate's vote in the World Assembly is not and shall not be considered a "government authority". It is the belief of the Court that Clause 3 of the Bill of Rights was meant to allow a nation to serve in the Government without having a World Assembly nation in the Region.

As to the second question, The Court reviewed the Constitution and Legal Code and came to a conclusion there is no law whatsoever dictating how the Delegate must vote in World Assembly matters.

The Court therefore opines the following:

The law enacted by the Council of State does not break a nations rights or any law as set out by the Bill of Rights, Constitution and/or Legal Code. The right to vote in World Assembly matters is not protected under any provision in the Bill of Rights, Constitution, or Legal Code.

In review of the above the Court has determined the following:

The previous rulings of the Court of the North Pacific are inaccurate. The Courts ruling on Residency and Forum Administration as delivered on 6 August 2010 introduced a definition of "residency" in which no document including the Bill of Rights, Legal Code, or Constitution mentions. After a through review of all the aforementioned documents the Court has no choice but to overturn the previous ruling. The Court also reviewed its most recent decision on World Assembly Voting and has come to a conclusion it is slightly flawed. The Court introduced an incorrect definition of "Government Authorities" in this ruling.

The Court therefore opines the following:

The Court hereby establishes that under the Bill of Rights all nations in the North Pacific with the exception of those who are performing regional recruitment on the regional message board of the North Pacific are afforded protection under said document. The Court reverses the previous ruling of the Court which created a flawed definition of "residency".

The Court in reviewing the term "Government Authorities" hereby establishes a "Government Authority" is any elected or appointed office of the North Pacific and not the individual being elected as the Court eluded to in our first ruling on the matter. The Court in this matter also re-evaluated whether or not the Council of 5 World Assembly Voting Policy was illegal. It is the determination of the Court that the policy does violate part of the Bill of Rights but is not completely illegal.

The Court establishes the following answers to the questions posed by Unibot.

Does this provision require "equal and fair treatment" of Nations in The North Pacific in every government affair?
The answer would be simply no. This provision requires "equal and fair treatment" to all nations of the North Pacific in relation to the provisions as laid out in the Constitution. This does not include every government affair.

Does this provision require "equal and fair" protection of the provisions of the Constitution for every citizen?
This provision in Clause 9 does require "equal and fair" protection of the provisions of the Constitution for every citizen as well as all other nations covered under the Bill of Rights.

Therefore after further review the policy regarding World Assembly Voting violates the provision requiring all nations to have the right to be "heard". The Court wants to be clear here that this clause in the Bill of Rights does not set requirements on the Delegate to vote a certain way in the World Assembly. There is also no current provision in the Constitution that sets this requirement.

Ruling Delivered on 22 October 2012
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Tim on the Vice Delegate's Voting Rights within the Security Council

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Tim.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant section of the Constitution of the North Pacific:

6. The Vice Delegate will chair the Security Council and enforce the continued eligibility of its members as determined by law.
The Court opines the following:

The only mention of the Vice Delegate in regards to the Security Council as the quoted section of the Constitution above. This section of the Constitution does not stipulate the Vice Delegate does not have voting powers in the Security Council. This establishes the Vice Delegate will serve as the Chair of the Security Council. The Court has no choice but to assume the drafters of the Constitution intended for the Vice Delegate to have voting powers within the Security Council body.

Ruling Delivered on 28 October 2012
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Abbey on the Jurisdiction of the Court

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Abbey.

The Court opines the following in response to the quests posed:

1. Can a nation be prosecuted for anything other than Treason (as specified in http://forum.thenorthpacific.org/single/?p=8055484&t=6927180 ) if they are no longer residing in the region? This specifically relates to -T-h-o-r- and treetar.
Yes any nation may be prosecuted for crimes other than Treason. The Courts ruling that was linked was specifically speaking of just Treason while other crimes may be tried as well. If the nation committed a crime or is expected of committing a crime in the North Pacific they may be tired even if their nation no longer resides in the North Pacific.

2. On a similar vein, can a nation be prosecuted for anything other than Treason for offences which were not commited within property of TNP or an ally, such as a forum embassy of ours located on a different region’s offsite forums?
This depends on the region in which the crime was committed in. If the region we hold an embassy with considers said Embassy as our property the answer would be yes they can be tried here. Whether or not the North Pacific considers all Embassies property of the North Pacific is not determined and the Court directs you towards the Assembly for discussion of that matter.

Ruling Delivered on 30 October 2012
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Iro on the Speaker's Powers

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Iro.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant section of the Constitution of the North Pacific:

Article 2.6 of the Constitution said:
6. The Speaker will administer the rules of the Regional Assembly. Where no rules exist, the Speaker may use their discretion.
The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Bill of Rights said:
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

10. Each Nation entitled to a vote in any manner under the fundamental laws of the region is entitled to the equal treatment and protection of that Nation's right to vote.

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.
The Court opines the following:

The Speaker by making these policies was within their powers as laid out by the Constitution and not in violation of the Bill of Rights. The Court looked extensively at the Section 10 of the Bill of Rights and determined that the rules that were adopted still allowed the protection of each nations right to vote. We are aware the Speaker discounted votes that were not in line with the adopted polices but again the voters that lodged an invalid vote were still given the right to vote in the matter. It is our belief that once these rules were adopted they were enforced evenly and fairly.

The Court thanks all those involved for their patience while we made a determination in this matter.

Ruling delivered on 24 November 2012
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by King Durk the Awesome on Leaving a Candidates Name off the Ballot

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by King Durk the Awesome.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant section of the Legal Code of the North Pacific:

Section 4.5: Special Elections
16. A special election will be held in the event of a vacancy in any elected office or position.
17. The Delegate, or if the Delegate is not available, the Speaker, or if the Delegate and Speaker are not available, any Court Justice, will serve as Election Commissioner for the special election.
18. The period for nominations or declarations of candidacy in the special election will last for five days, beginning within two days after the vacancy is noticed.
19. Voting will begin one day after the period for nominations or declarations has closed and last for five days, unless there is only one candidate for each vacancy in which case they will take office immediately.
The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Bill of Rights said:
9. Each Nation in The North Pacific is guaranteed the organization and operation of the governmental authorities of the region on fundamental principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution. No governmental authority shall have power to adopt or impose an ex post facto law or a bill of attainder as to any act for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The Court opines the following:

It is the belief of the Court that the accidental omittance of a Candidate from the Ballot does in fact violate that Candidates Rights under Section 9 of the Bill of Rights. It is therefore ordered that the voting period for the Special Election of Vice Delegate is restarted immediately. The Court believes that in such cases where a timetable for elections is present when a violation of the Bill of Rights or Constitution is found in order to keep the legitimacy of the election the timetable must be altered as not doing so would in itself be a violation of the Bill of Rights.

The Court recognizes mcmasterdonia's immediate attempt to rectify the situation by adding the missing candidates name back to the ballot as soon as being made aware of the situation. The Court does appreciate when an official in the Government attempts to correct a mistake however this specific rectification was not enough to satisfy the Bill of Rights.

Ruling Delivered on 25 November 2012
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Cormac Stark on the usage of the Arms, Flag, and Seal of the North Pacific

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Iro.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant section of the Legal Code of the North Pacific:

Section 7.1: Arms, Flag, and Seal
2. The following arms as designed by ThelDRan and revised by Eluvatar and Gulliver is adopted as the coat of arms of the North Pacific:

3. Each institution in the North Pacific's government may establish for itself a seal which uses the arms of the North Pacific.
4. The arms of the North Pacific may not be used except to represent the North Pacific or an official regional entity.
5. The following flag, as designed by ThelDRan and revised by Eluvatar and Gulliver is adopted as the official flag of the North Pacific:

The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Bill of Rights said:
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.
The Court opines the following:

As to the first question posed to the Court: "1. Does Section 7.1, #4 of the Legal Code contradict the following clause from paragraph #2 of the Bill of Rights."

The answer to this question would be no. The Legal Code does not infringe on a nations right to the Freedom of Press, speech, and free expression of religion.

As to the second questions posed to the Court: "2. Does Section 7.1, #4 of the Legal Code prohibit anyone who is not "an official regional entity" from flying the flag simply because it contains the coat of arms, despite the Legal Code containing no explicit prohibition against flying the flag?"

No it does not. The Legal Code specifically lists both the Coat of Arms and the Flag of the North Pacific as separate items. It is the belief of the Court that just because the flag contains an image of the Coat of Arms does not make the flag THE Coat of Arms. Therefore to be quite clear nations may fly the Flag of the North Pacific but may not fly the Coat of Arms of the North Pacific.

As to the third question posed to the Court: "3. Can nations of The North Pacific who are not "an official regional entity" legally fly the flag of The North Pacific?"

Yes the requirement established in the Legal Code only states that the Coat of Arms may not be used unless by "an official regional entity". As the Court has stated above the Flag and Coat of Arms are two separate items and not one and the same.

Ruling Delivered on 25 November 2012
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Gaspo on the Existence of a Duty to Disclose

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Gaspo.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant Sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Sections 5 said:
5. All Nations of The North Pacific have the right to be protected against the abuse of powers by any official of a government authority of the region.

7. When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer.

9. No action by the governmental authorities of the region shall deny to any Nation of The North Pacific, due process of law, including prior notice and the opportunity to be heard, nor deny to any Nation of The North Pacific the equal and fair treatment and protection of the provisions of the Constitution
The Court opines the following:

The Court had determined that in order for a nation to have equal and fair treatment and protection of law and due process of said law a duty to disclose all exculpatory evidence is in fact created by the Bill of Rights. The Court reviewed the Bill of Rights and the Request filed by Gaspo on this matter. The Court is in unanimous agreement that a duty to disclose all exculpatory evidence does in fact exist under the provisions of the Bill of Rights. The Court also notes that if in such a case the prosecution unknowingly posses exculpatory evidence when they are made aware of such evidence it must be disclosed to the Court and the Defense Council immediately.

The Court thanks everyone for their patience during this review.

Ruling Delivered on 9 January 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Eluvatar on Oath Violations by Former Members of the Regional Assembly

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Eluvatar.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Legal Code, Consitution, and Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Section 6.1: Regional Assembly Membership Act
2. The Speaker will work with forum administration to process Regional Assembly applicants.
3. Assembly members must maintain a nation in the North Pacific.
4. Applicants must swear an oath, as follows:
Code:
[nation]TNP Nation[/nation]
[nation]WA Nation[/nation]
I, [forum user name], leader of The North Pacific nation of (your TNP nation's name), pledge loyalty to the region, to abide by its laws, and to act as a responsible member of its society. I pledge to only register one Nation to vote in The North Pacific. I pledge that no nation under my control will wage war against the North Pacific. I understand that if I break this oath I may immediately lose my voting privileges, permanently. In this manner, I petition the Speaker for membership in the Regional Assembly of the North Pacific.
5. New forum members may who register as citizens or join the Regional Assembly must be made aware of the Criminal Code they are pledging to respect..
6. The Speaker will accept applicants with valid applications who are verified by forum administration not to be using a proxy or evading a judicially-imposed penalty.
7. The Speaker will process applications within 14 days. If the applicant is not rejected within 14 days, they will be automatically accepted to the Regional Assembly.
8. Regional Assembly members may not vote in any vote which began before they were last admitted.
9. The Speaker's office will maintain a publicly viewable roster of Regional Assembly members.
10. The Speaker's office will promptly remove any members whose removal is ordered by the Court, whose North Pacific nation leaves or ceases to exist, who fail to log in to the North Pacific forum for over 30 days.
The Court opines the following:

The Court in reviewing the matter as brought forth by Eluvatar reviewed the Constitution, Legal Code, and the Bill of Rights.

The Court had determined that the matter is twofold. If the violation occurs after the time in which the nation is no longer a member of the Regional Assembly then they are not violating their oath as they are not bound to that oath at the current moment. Whereas if the violation occurs during the time in which the nation was a member of the Regional Assembly and was bound by that oath they may be tried for an Oath Violation.

The Court reviewed the particluar matter that prompted this Judicial Inquiry and has determined that Justice Belschaft did in fact by not accepting the removal of JAL's RA membership follow the ruling that is being made today. For the record JAL's RA membership periods from the Court removal in March to his re-acceptance in August are listed below. The periods show that JAL was not a member of the Regional Assembly during the time of the alleged telegram campaign and could not have violated a regional assembly membership oath.

Removed on 3/21/12 by the Court

Restrictions removed when acquitted on 5/3/12

Reapplied on 5/5/12 - Admitted on 5/8/12

Removed on 6/20/12

Reapplied on 8/11/12 - Admitted on 8/12/12

Ruling Delivered on 10 January 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Cormac Stark on WA Disclosure Requirements

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Cormac Stark.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant sections of the Legal Code, Constitution, and Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

The Court opines the following:

The Court in this matter faces three questions:
1.Does the requirement for WA disclosures when voting stem from any legal duty established through the Constitution and other Laws of The North Pacific?
2.In the absence of an appointed registrar to whom disclosures may be made, is failure to disclose grounds for disqualification of a vote?
3.Are the WA disclosures required by Section 6.2 in conflict with the Bill of Rights’ Equal Protection Claus (Clause 10)?

To put those anxiously awaiting simplified answers at ease, The Court has answered these questions as follows:
1.No.
2.No.
3.No.

Regarding the first point, a simple search of the text of the law finds no disclosure requirement specifically related to elections; only the overarching requirement which must be met in an ongoing fashion to maintain Regional Assembly membership.

The second issue, regarding vote disqualification, is similarly simple. The Court can find no basis in the law which requires that votes be discarded if disclosure requirements are not met in the absence of a registrar. In criminal law, the impossibility of avoiding an offense (provided one has not exercised volition in leading to the inevitability) is a complete defense to criminal liability. The same is true here; the impossibility of reporting which would result from the absence of a duly appointed registrar is not a reasonable barrier to the voting rights of citizens.

On the third point, the Court must examine the law in its entirety to determine whether or not WA Membership is a requirement, or a choice. At no point, under the Constitution or any element of the Legal Code, is World Assembly membership a requirement to participate. Membership alone is a choice. Choices come with consequences; some choices ease burdens, others impose them. The protections in the Bill of Rights are intended to protect all Nations of the North Pacific from unfair burdens imposed by their government. WA membership, however, is a choice, not an obligation.

Participation in activities which require WA membership is a choice, not an obligation. As such, any duty to report WA nations is, in effect, willingly shouldered by those players who choose to participate in such activities. The reporting requirements are imposed fairly, on all nations. That some nations choose to join the WA, thereby triggering this reporting requirement, is not a choice made for those players; it is a choice made by them. As such, the burden of reporting is willingly shouldered, and is not an unfair burden.

Ruling Delivered on 18 January 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Eluvatar on Right against Self Incrimination

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Eluvatar.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant section of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

Article 6 of the Bill of Rights said:
6. No Nation shall be held to answer for a crime in a manner not prescribed by the Constitution or the Legal Code. No Nation shall be subjected to being twice put in jeopardy for the same offense. No Nation shall ever be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against itself.
The Court opines the following:

The Court has two questions before it. First, does the right against self-incrimination apply only to parties in the case at hand, or to all individuals testifying as witnesses? Second, does the refusal to answer on self-incrimination grounds constitute evidence against the individual, which may be used to assert guilt related to the matter at hand?

As to the first question, the wording of the law indicates no limitation on this right against self-incrimination. It may be invoked by any witness or party when questioned, and the refusal to answer may not be circumvented by any legal action in the future. This is a fundamental legal principle, and is essential to ensuring the fairness of the justice system.

The second question is similarly simple. The answer is no. The refusal to answer is simply a refusal to answer, nothing more. If it were usable as evidence of guilt, the entire right against self-incrimination would be undermined and become irrelevant. In order to preserve this right, the refusal to answer cannot be used as evidence of guilty, in the proceeding at hand or in any future proceeding.

Ruling Delivered on 18 January 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Unibot on Potential Confliction of the Bill of Rights and Legal Code in regards to National Flags

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Unibot.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant section of the Bill of Rights and Legal Code of the North Pacific:

Article 1 of the Bill of Rights said:
1. All Nations of The North Pacific are sovereign. Each Nation has the right of self-determination in that Nation's domestic policies, including, but not limited to, issue selection and WA membership.
Section 7.1.4 of the Legal Code said:
4. The arms of the North Pacific may not be used except to represent the North Pacific or an official regional entity.
The Court opines the following:

The Court has before it a question examining a potential conflict between Article 1 of the Bill of Rights, and Legal Code Chapter 7.1.4. The question specifically addresses national flags. The Court finds that there is no conflict, and finds that Legal Code Chapter 7.1.4 does not violate the Constitution or Bill of Rights, in spirit or in letter.

The Bill of Rights’ protections of national sovereignty state, and are intended to clarify, that the Government of The North Pacific may not direct the management of the nations in a proactive way. The law at hand restricts use of the Coat of Arms to use by government officials or the government as a whole. The Court does not believe that a conflict exists here, and draws on a number of analogies to explain this position:

  • It is perfectly reasonable for a government to restrict the use of official letterhead, because its appearance conveys significance and meaning indicating that the document conveyed on that letterhead is an official communication. The letterhead bestows formality and legitimacy, In effect, and as such must be restricted. While free expression is important, that free expression would undermine the very purpose and utility of the letterhead, and as such must be restrained.
  • Diplomatic license plates are issued only to diplomats, and confer special privileges upon those who possess them. As such, their use is restricted to a small subset of individuals. This is perfectly reasonable, as those plates convey additional authority and certain distinctions, and as such must be controlled.
  • Governments often restrict access to police uniforms, because the uniform is a de facto symbol of power and authority. Symbols or icons which convey authority or are held to indicate some official status must be controlled, or they lose all validity as an official symbol.
Many other examples are available, such as military uniforms, symbols of authority (legislative gavels, for example), and unique titles of position. The Arms of The North Pacific are the only means which the government has reserved to allow it to convey a degree of official recognition upon statements, posts, and other documents, to separate them from ordinary documents. This is far from an unreasonable or illegal action for a government to take.

As a side note, if any nation is truly enamored with the Arms, and simply must have the Arms as a part of its flag, The Court directs that nation to Legal Code Chapter 7.1.5, which establishes the official Flag of The North Pacific, a flag whose use is not restricted in the same way as the Arms.

Ruling Delivered on 18 January 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Blue Wolf II on the Speakers Powers

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Blue Wolf II.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant Section of the Constitution of the North Pacific:

Constitution said:
6. The Speaker will administer the rules of the Regional Assembly. Where no rules exist, the Speaker may use their discretion.
The Court opines the following:

The court has before it the seemingly simple question of whether the Speaker is within his rights to end debate on proposal unilaterally, potentially barring motions to vote, without giving cause. The Court confines its opinion on this matter to the facts of this case in particular, in which the proposal which was closed was highly controversial and prompted not-insignificant Moderation actions. The court will, however, clarify its understanding and opinion of the Speaker's discretion with regard to closing discussions, so that future Speakers will have some guidance going forward.

Looking first to the case at hand, we find a thread seeking to amend the Bill of Rights to legalize extrajudicial action against a particular citizen. This proposal would not have passed Constitutional muster, and would have been in direct conflict with the very document it sought to amend. It could never have become law. As such, it is reasonable to say that the discussion in question lacked merit, viability, and legality. This finding will have bearing on our final ruling.

The Constitution grants discretion to the Speaker as follows:
Constitution said:
6. The Speaker will administer the rules of the Regional Assembly. Where no rules exist, the Speaker may use their discretion.
The Constitution, Legal Code, and RA Rules are all completely devoid of any additional reference to the Speaker's discretionary powers. Nor are there any rules outlining how the Regional Assembly's business is to be conducted, which have bearing on this matter. As such, the Constitution's grant of discretion to the Speaker in administering the Regional Assembly is the only binding law on this issue.

The question is raised, however, as to whether or not the actions taken using this discretionary power violate the Bill of Rights. This Court believes that they do not. Nations do possess a right to freedom of speech, and the government may not impede that right, but this restriction must be balanced against the demands of a civilized society, which encourages equal treatment of all its citizens. Regardless of the personal feelings of any Regional Assembly member, the proposal in question was a targeted attempt to discriminate against a member of the region. In fact, the proposal would have violated several elements of the Bill of Rights and Legal Code. Furthermore, the target of this proposal had repeatedly asked for the harassment he felt he was experiencing to cease. Under these circumstances, the Speaker's actions are not a violation of the Bill of Rights for one simple reason:
Bill of Rights said:
. . . The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.
The Speaker's actions were permitted under his discretion, and using his judgment he acted in the best interests of the region. If any Nation feels that the actions of a government official are in violation of these laws, the proper recourse is a recall proceeding, not a Court proceeding. Particularly not in circumstances such as these.

With that decided, the Court would take this opportunity to comment more broadly on the powers of the Speaker. Under the aforementioned Constitutional clause, the Speaker is granted broad discretion, where no rules exist, to administer the Regional Assembly as he or she sees fit. Under the Bill of Rights segment also mentioned previously, the Court believes that all government officials are obligated by law to act in good faith in discharging their duties. The Court believes that the Speaker does possess the right to unilaterally table proposals, if their continued debate is not reasonably in the best interests of the region. The Constitution grants this discretion, and the Bill of Rights in effect obligates the Speaker to exercise said discretion if he or she feels it is appropriate. If the Nations of The North Pacific disagree, the procedure for Recall is quite clear, and as has been demonstrated over the past few months, is quite accessible. Legal review of the Speaker's discretionary decisions is not, generally speaking, necessary.

Ruling Delivered on 31 January 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Advisory Opinion of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the events occurring in the course of The North Pacific v. Unibot

Given recent actions taken by the Attorney General, which sought to bypass the judicial fact-finding process and undermine the authority conferred upon this Court by the Constitution and Legal Code, the Justices of the Court feel compelled to issue this Advisory Opinion. It will have three main elements: it will clearly define what the responsibilities of the Attorney General are under the law (as there seems to be some lack of understanding within the current AG's office on this point), it will identify what the Court believes to be the unacceptable actions taken by Attorney General Punk D, and it will convey a strong recommendation to the Delegate for actions to be taken in response.

Looking first to the role of the Attorney General, the Law is quite clear.
Legal Code said:
. . .
4. The Attorney General will serve as Chief Prosecutor in all cases brought before the Court of the North Pacific.
5. It is the duty of the Attorney General to see to completion any proceeding they are prosecuting.
. . .
Oath of Office said:
I, [forum username], do hereby solemnly swear . . . I will use the powers and rights granted to me through The North Pacific Constitution and Legal Code in a legal, responsible, and unbiased manner, not abusing my power, committing misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office . . . within the restraints of my legally granted power. . . .
Bill of Rights said:
11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code.
These elements of the law quite clearly establish that, in accordance with the decisions of this Court, the Attorney General must bring to before the Court all criminal complaints filed with the AG's office. The Justices then make findings of plausibility based on the evidence associated with the complaint. The basic theory is that, if the evidence contained in the complaint were proven to be true, then the person would be guilty of the charged crime. If it's plausible, the indictment proceeds to court, at which point Legal Code 3.1.4 and 3.1.5 govern the AG's actions. He is to serve as Chief Prosecutor (though he is generally allowed to appoint Deputies and supervise their work), and is to see to completion any proceeding they are doing. It is of note that in all of these proceedings, the AG represents the Region; he effectively represents the region's laws in criminal matters, seeking to enforce them where the justices have seen cause for a trial.

So, the Attorney General must prosecute all criminal trials, and see them through to their completion. But how? Can he simply choose how aggressively or competently, or to what extent, he will prosecute each case? No, he cannot. He is bound by his Oath to do exercise his powers and rights in a way that avoids "misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance". This requires the Attorney General to execute his duties to the fullest of his abilities, lest he commit nonfeasance. He must do so regardless of his personal opinions, lest he commit misfeasance. And he must do so in accordance, at all times, with the law, lest he commit malfeasance.

One final note, before we move on to a discussion of the current Attorney General's actions. The Constitution expressly reserves for the Courts, the power to decide all questions of law, or questions of fact as examined through legal proceeding. No other governmental entity is granted such power. This express reservation, under current law and Court rulings, does not grant the Attorney General discretion in either which cases he prosecutes, or the degree of professionalism and zeal with which he prosecutes those cases. The Attorney General is an advocate; a Prosecutor. He speaks for the People and the Region of the North Pacific, in defense of their laws and their government's policies. He ought not judge, nor act based on personal opinion; that is not his prerogative.

This brings us to Punk D. It is the opinion of this Court that he has failed to meet these requirements as outlined by law, and by the Oath he willingly took. In TNP v. Unibot, Punk D indicated a clear intention to willfully abstain from submitting any evidence, effectively foregoing his duty to represent The North Pacific, based on his personal opinion. He explicitly stated his intention to exercise discretion he does not lawfully possess, and to purposefully cause the failure of a case which he is duty-bound to see to completion, to the fullest of his abilities. When confronted regarding these issues, the Attorney General remained defiant, and went so far as to submit one piece of evidence. This was done in response to the Court's stated intent to dismiss the case without the attachment of jeopardy. The Attorney General responded by attempting to force the Court to attach jeopardy at the 11th hour. Ironically enough, the Attorney General's attempt to out-maneuver the Court was foiled by a basic arithmetic error, as he failed to take this action until 23 hours after the close of discovery.

The Court is deeply concerned by the Attorney General's actions in this case. He attempted to force the Court to dismiss this case and bar it from ever being brought, based on no finding of fact, and instead his own opinion. This is not permissible under his own Oath, under the Legal Code, or under the Constitution. As a government official, Punk D may not disregard any of those documents; he has quite clearly done so here. It is not within the power of this court to compel action except as a result of a trial proceeding, however. We find no substantive law, however, which bars us from issuing a condemnation of a government official's actions, and strongly urging the Delegate to immediately request the resignation of the Attorney General, in conjunction with launching an investigation into the extent of this type of behavior within the Attorney General's office. The Court's ability to effectively apply the laws of The North Pacific is deeply undermined if the Attorney General cannot be relied upon to steadfastly carry out his duties; this Court has no faith in this Attorney General's ability or willingness to complete said duties.

Advisory Opinion Delivered on 12 February 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Gaspo on the Constitutionality of the Sedition Law

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Gaspo.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant Section of the Legal Code of the North Pacific:
Section 1.3: Sedition said:
8. "Sedition" is defined as an intentional attempt to incite the Nations of The North Pacific to revolt in a manner not sanctioned by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The Court took into consideration the Relevant Sections of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:
Section 2 and 11 of the Bill of Rights said:
2. Each Nation's rights to free speech, free press, and the free expression of religion shall not be infringed, and shall be encouraged, by the governmental authorities of the region. Each Nation has the right to assemble, and to petition the governmental authorities of the region, including the WA Delegate, for the redress of grievances. The governmental authorities of the region shall act only in the best interests of the Region, as permitted and limited under the Constitution.

11. No governmental authority of the region has the power to suspend or disregard the Constitution or the Legal Code. In the event of an actual emergency, the governmental authorities of the region, with the express consent of the Nations of the region or their representatives, is authorized to act in any reasonable manner that is consistent as practicable with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution.
The Court also took into consideration the Constitution of the North Pacific.

The Court opines the following:

The Sedition Law defines Sedition as "an intentional attempt to incite the Nations of The North Pacific to revolt in a manner not sanctioned by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights".

The Bill of Rights establishes that each Nation has the right to free speech and that that right cannot be infringed upon. The Bill of Rights also establishes that in the event of an actual emergency, governmental authorities with the consent of the Nations of the North Pacific may act in any reasonable manner consistent with the pertinent provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution does not provide for the ability to infringe on Free Speech in any of its provisions.

The only provision that allows for infringement on the right to free speech is Section 11 of the Bill of rights when there is an emergency situation, governmental authorities may act in a reasonable manner with the permission of the Nations of the North Pacific.

Therefore the Court after reviewing the above has reached a unanimous agreement that the Sedition Law is unconstitutional and is therefore stricken from the Legal Code of the North Pacific.

Ruling Delivered on 13 February 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by r3naissanc3r regarding whether or not Court decisions are irrefutably binding, as well as an ancillary question put for by Crushing Our Enemies regarding the scope of the Court's review powers

Opinion drafted by Gaspo, joined by Hileville and Sanctaria

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by r3naissanc3r, and the follow-up posted by Crushing Our Enemies.

The Court took into consideration the following elements of Article 4 of the Constitution of the North Pacific:

1. The Court will try all criminal and civil cases, resolve conflicts or ambiguities in the law, and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies by request of an affected party.
. . .
4. The official opinion of the Court in any trial or review will be binding on all Government bodies and officials.
The Court opines the following:

The Court has before it two issues, tangentially related but submitted loosely together. The Court will first address Crushing Our Enemies' inquiry regarding the ability of this Court to review the policies of other elements of the government.
Crushing Our Enemies said:
I would ask that the court take into consideration Article 4, clause 1:
1. The Court will try all criminal and civil cases, resolve conflicts or ambiguities in the law, and review the constitutionality of laws or legality of government policies by request of an affected party.
It would be preposterous to opine that the court has the power to "resolve conflicts and ambiguities" and "review the legality" in and of every law or policy except the ones the court itself has created.
This request has two interpretations: depending upon where one places the emphasis, and whether or not one comprehends sarcasm, it may either be taken on its face, as suggesting that the Court cannot review anything other than its own opinions. We first address this interpretation.

The Court finds no merit in this position as stated. The Court has been specifically charged with reviewing government policies, and no reason has been given in support of the assertion that this Court cannot review other the policies and actions of other elements of the government, upon request. The Courts are granted this power to provide a balance against abuses of power, and to provide recourse to allow citizens to have their grievances addressed by a neutral party.

Under COE's proposed interpretation, the Court would have no purpose, as it would only be permitted to conduct criminal and civil trials, and clarify ambiguity. It would not be able to hold elected officials accountable for their actions, or determine whether or not policies are in accordance with the Constitution; these powers of judicial review are essential to the operation of the court and the balanced structure of democracy within a 3-branch system.

The Court rejects COE's assertion, and maintains that, subject to the request of an affected party, it may review and offer its legal opinion on any action, policy, law, rule, or decision made by any government official.

If, however, the statement is interpreted differently, to point out the inherent contradiction in the Court's power to review all government policies and decisions except its own (despite the Court being itself a part of the government), then we wholeheartedly agree with the stated proposition. The Court believes COE's intent was such, and holds that, as specifically mandated by that Article, the Court is obliged to review its own decisions should the need arise (and a proper request be made - arbitrary requests for review every time a new Court is elected are not permissible), as it is responsible for doing with all governmental policies. If, as we suspect, that was COE's meaning, then this Court wholeheartedly agrees, with some caveats, as discussed below.

Turning to r3naissanc3r's request for review, the Court recognizes that r3n's proposed interpretation is the most literal, most restrictive view which may be taken of this Court's freedom regarding past decisions. While this Court places strong importance on precedent, and is exceedingly hesitant to overturn it even in part, the interests of justice and the evolution of the law require that the Court be able to overturn precedent where appropriate. At one point, for example, FALCONKATS as Special Assistant Attorney General refused to bring any civil case before the Court, asserting (in direct contradiction with the Constitution) that the Court was exclusively able to hear criminal matters. Let's say that were appealed, and the Court erroneously upheld his decision. Under r3n's proposal, that would stand forever. The only means of bypassing it, would be for the Regional Assembly to pass a law saying that the Constitution says something that it already said in the first place. Inescapable binding in Court decisions would not advance the interests of Justice.

Let's look at another example to illustrate this. Suppose a Counsel submits an Affidavit as evidence in a current trial. Affidavits are neither permitted nor barred, currently - they are not discussed in the current Court Rules. Let's say that this Affidavit was submitted, and objected to, and the objection was upheld. It was then appealed, and the Court opined that Affidavits were not permissible. That would be binding forever. Ah, you say, but the legislature could legislate around that, thus restoring balance! You would be wrong. The RA would not be able to change the rules, because evidentiary concerns are addressed in the Court Rules, which only the Court can change. And the Courts would not be able to contradict binding precedent, thus permanently barring Affidavits from ever being used in TNP Courts. The law must be allowed to evolve to match society, and conclusively binding decisions carry with them the potential to greatly restrict the ability of the law, and the Court, to adjust with the times.

The Court does not believe, however, that precedent may be overturned sua sponte (unilaterally, at the Court's discretion, without an action being brought), nor do we believe that precedent may be disregarded unless it is conclusively overturned. We furthermore believe that a heightened standard of review must be followed when reviewing the decisions of a previous Court, out of respect and deference to the law as established by our predecessors. Should it come to pass that precedent must be overturned, this Court believes that that decision must only be made after all legal alternatives have been examined, and must be done in as transparent and explanatory a fashion as possible.

In other words, the Court must explain itself fully when overturning precedent. The Court must try, wherever possible, to act in accordance with precedent, so long as that precedent does not conflict with new law, or the fundamental principles of justice established by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

To specifically answer r3n's questions, the binding effect prescribed by the Constitution applies to the Court to the extent that it does not bring the Court's precedent into conflict with the Constitution or with subsequent substantive law. The Court may overturn its prior rulings, but must do so in response to a new request as a result of some factual evolution (not simply a request to "look again"), and must do so concurrent with the publication of its reasoning in doing so. The Court must avoid disregarding precedent wherever possible, but cannot, in the interests of justice and fairness, be irrefutably bound by precedent regardless of the consequences.

Ruling Delivered on 20 February 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Gaspo on whether current trial procedures concerning time limits on replies, specifically those utilised in TNP v. Eluvatar, currently infringe on a Defendant's right to a fair trial

Opinion drafted by Sanctaria, joined by Abbey Anumia and Jamie

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Gaspo.

The Court took into consideration Article 7 of the Bill of Rights of the North Pacific:

When charged with criminal acts, Nations of The North Pacific shall have a fair, impartial, and public trial before a neutral and impartial judicial officer.
The Court opines the following:

The issue the Court has before it is whether or not the the scheduling of trials, as they currently stand, infringes on one's right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. In particular, the Court is asked whether or not the denying the Defence's right to respond to motions due to those time limits, specifically in the case of The North Pacific v. Eluvatar, limited that Defendant's right to a fair trial.

It is the opinion of the Court that the right to a fair trial, as guaranteed to those charged with criminal acts by the Bill of Rights, includes an inherent right of response to the Defendant and/or his/her team. It is the Court's opinion that denying the Defence an opportunity to respond to the Prosecution, in both a pre-trial period and beyond, would pose a danger to a Defendant's enumerated right, especially in a situation where an over-zealous Prosecution intentionally waited until immediately prior to the end of specific phase to make a motion, thereby depriving the Defence of any opportunity to respond.

This Court believes that in order to protect the constitutional rights of the Defendant, should the Prosecution file any motion(s) in the 12 hour period immediately prior to the ending of a phase, the Defence be granted an automatic time extension to respond to that motion(s) if they fail to do so in that 12 hour period before the phase ends. This Court tasks the Court will updating its ruleset to reflect this opinion and to clarify the automatic extension as outlined.

Further, the Court does not recognise that the aforementioned right to respond should apply to the Prosecution also, as although the Bill of Rights guarantees equality for each nation in the operations of governmental authorities, the right to a fair trial (from which this right to respond is found) is explicitly given by the Bill of Rights only to those charged with a criminal offence.

It is also the considered opinion of the Court that this right of response is just and only that; a right to respond to motions made, and not extra time to file motions of their own.

With specific attention to the case of The North Pacific v. Eluvatar, the Court acknowledges its own erring and agrees with the Defence that pre-trial motions should not have begun as pleas for all charges were not filed; motions to dismiss belong only in the pre-trial period and should not have been accepted as it had not yet begun. It is the belief of this Court that the trial in question should return to the plea phase.

Ruling Delivered on 4 March 2013
 

Hileville

TNPer
Ruling of the Court of the North Pacific
In regards to the Judicial Inquiry filed by Cormac Stark on Vice Delegate Succession

Opinion drafted by Sancatria, joined by Hileville​

The Court took into consideration the Inquiry filed here by Cormac Stark.

The Court took into consideration the Relevant Sections of the Constitution of the North Pacific:
Article 3: The Delegate and Vice Delegate said:
1. The Delegate will be the head of state and government of The North Pacific and hold the in-game position of delegate.
2. The Delegate may eject and ban nations from the region as permitted by law, and will eject or ban nations from the region when required by law.
3. The Delegate may negotiate treaties with foreign powers. No treaty will come into effect unless approved by a two-thirds majority vote of the Regional Assembly.
4. The Delegate may veto a proposal of the Regional Assembly to enact, amend or repeal a law within one week of its passage. The Regional Assembly may override such a veto by a two-thirds majority vote.
5. The Delegate may appoint executive officers to assist them and may dismiss these officers freely. Executive offices may be regulated by law.
6. The Vice Delegate will chair the Security Council and enforce the continued eligibility of its members as determined by law.
7. The Vice Delegate will hold the second most endorsements in the region. The Delegate may eject or ban any nation which exceeds the Vice Delegate’s endorsement count.
8. If the Delegate is removed or unable to serve, the Vice Delegate will assume the duties of the Delegate. If the Vice Delegate is also unable to serve, the first available person in the line of succession will assume the duties of the Delegate.
9. The Delegate and Vice Delegate will be elected by the Regional Assembly by a majority vote every four months. No person may serve more than two consecutive terms as Delegate.
Article 6. General Provisions said:
1. All government officials must maintain membership in the Regional Assembly. Candidates in any election must maintain membership in the Regional Assembly for the fifteen days before the opening of nominations.
2. All government officials will swear an oath of office. The content of these oaths will be determined by law and be legally binding.
3. No person may simultaneously hold more than one elected office or simultaneously hold offices in more than one judicial, legislative or executive category.
4. Government bodies may create rules for their own governance subordinate to this constitution and the laws.
5. No law or government policy may contradict this constitution.
6. Procedures to fill vacancies in elected offices may be established by law.
The Court took into consideration the Relevant Section of the Legal Code of the North Pacific:
Section 4.2: Election Law Definitions said:
4. "Abstentions" are not votes for or against any candidate, and may not be used to determine the results of any election. They may be used for quorum, activity, or other purposes.
5. "Candidates" are those citizens who declare themselves, or have accepted a nomination by another Assembly member preceding the close of nominations, as a candidate for an office to be chosen at that election. Candidates may only stand for one office during a given Election Cycle.
6. "Election Commissioner" is an individual designated to supervise a given election. No one who may be a candidate in an election may serve as an Election Commissioner during it.
7. "Election Cycle" is defined as the period of time that begins on the first day on which nominations, or a declaration, of candidacy are made and concludes with the final declaration of results for an election. The dates for the Election Cycle will be designated at least 30 days in advance by the Delegate .
8. A "vacancy" in an office occurs when the holder of it resigns, is removed, or abandons it. An office is abandoned when its holder does not log onto the regional forums for two weeks without prior notice, or when an election winner or appointee fails to post the Oath of Office. Vacancies of elected offices are filled through a special election unless a it cannot be completed prior to the beginning of the appropriate scheduled election cycle. Pending an election, however, a vacancy may be temporarily filled as provided by the Constitution, this Legal Code, or a rule adopted by the appropriate body. Vacancies of appointed positions may be filled in accordance with proper appointment procedures.
The Court opines the following:

The issues before the Court are: whether or not Article 6.6 of the Constitution covers the procedure when a Delegate vacates his office, or if it does not and the procedures for the situation when a Delegate vacate his office is covered by Article 3.8 of the Constitution; whether or not being "unable to serve", as said by the Constitution, includes a resignation; does the Vice Delegate succeed the Delegate for the remainder of the Delegate's term, or just until a special election for the office can be concluded. The Court shall take address each issue separately in this opinion.

On the first issue, it is the opinion of the Court that both Articles, 3.8 and 6.6, need not be exclusive and can indeed be complimentary. The Court shall expand on this in the last issue.

It is the further opinion of the Court that a resignation should be taken as being "unable to serve". A resignation is and of itself a severe and serious impediment on the ability for the Delegate to serve; indeed, it should be understood as not wanting to serve. The Court finds such to be implicitly included in Article 3.8 of the Constitution, specifically where it reads "unable to serve".

Finally, and more importantly as the Court has found this to be the major crux of the issues at hand, it is the opinion of the Court that where Article 3.8 of the Constitution refers to the Vice Delegate assuming the duties of the Delegate where he is removed or unable to serve, that clause mandates the Vice Delegate exercise the duties of the office but not the office itself. The Court further finds that Article 6.6 includes the elected office of the Delegate in its remit.

The Court reasons this due to the Constitution referring to "offices" in other provisions of the Constitution (2.3; 3.5; 6.3), however when referring to the situations where the Vice Delegate succeeds the Delegate, it specifies "duties" only. The Court believes that this is a conscious reference and should be read as different to the "office" mentioned in other articles of the Constitution.

It is the opinion of this Court that upon the removal or resignation of the Delegate, and indeed when he is unable to serve as written, that the Vice Delegate should assume the duties of the Delegate, but only the duties, and only until a special election electing a new Delegate has concluded and the new Delegate installed.

To clarify, a Vice Delegate does not succeed the Delegate in office, only his duties for a temporary period of time until a new Delegate elected, currently covered by Section 4.2.8 of the Legal Code which is allowed for by Article 6.6 of the Constitution.

Anticipating questions wherein it is asked "does not the Vice Delegate assume the office by virtue of his assuming the in-game office", the Court advises the following:

Article 3.1 of the Constitutions stipulates that "the Delegate will be the head of state and government of The North Pacific and hold the in-game position of delegate". It is the opinion of the Court that the Delegate must hold all positions in order to fulfill what the Constitution defines as the office. That is, the Delegate must be both the Head of State and Government, and hold the in-game position of Delegate. While the Vice Delegate may occupy the latter position, he does not occupy the former, and therefore this Court dismisses the opinion that he holds the office of Delegate just because he sits in the in-game Delegacy.

The Court also notes this decision was not the unanimous opinion of the Court.

Ruling Delivered on 14 March 2013
 
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