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January 14, 2009, 6:22 pm

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30 Systems of Justice

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Thirty systems of justice-or the most rank injustice, in some cases.

1-Twelve Angry Men

The *traditional* type of justice that we have in our modern times. There is a judge, twelve jurors, prosecution and defence lawyers, and trials can take weeks or even months. The defendent has plenty of rights such as the right to be confronted with the evidence against him or her, and the right not to be forced to give evidence against himself or herself. At the end of the trial, the jurors have to decide on the defendent’s guilt or innocence.

2-Here Comes The Judge

In some ways like #1 with lawyers for the prosecution and the defence, and a judge, but with one major difference, there is no jury in this courtroom. It is up to the judge after all the evidence has been heard pro and con to decide on the defendent’s guilt or innocence. Sometimes used because juries have been bribed, intimidated or both by organized crime. If the judge knows what he is doing and is fair to the accused then it’s perfectly fair, but if the judge is biased or bribed things can go very badly.

3-Miner’s Court

Whilst there may well be a qualified judge in charge of it, every person in the area who is sane, able bodied and in good standing acts as the jury. It differs from a lyuch mob because there are rules of procedure and of evidence, and because there are normally prosecution and defence lawyers as well. However, if the crime is thought vile enough by the majority of the population, it can turn into a lynch mob if the judge and the lawyers cannot keep it’s passions in check.

4-Break A Deal, Face The Wheel

The accused person must stand whilst a wheel is spun and the sentence that comes up is what he or she gets, unless it comes up on "Not Guilty" in which case he or she goes free. There is generally a small chance of going free, a small chance of being executed on the spot and a much larger chance of getting some other punishment such as flogging, prison, amputation or a fine. The sentence here, not to mention the chance of conviction,is totally random. Monks of a God of Chance use this for anyone who they catch breaking into the monastry.

5-Trial By Combat

In this country the defendent and his accuser meet on the field of battle with swords or other weapons in their hands and it is up to the gods to decide who wins. The winner of the fight is the one whose cause was just. The fight may take place in the open air, or it may take place within an arena such as The Courthouse in the country of Ceriloth.

The loser generally is killed by the winner or dragged away and executed for losing the fight and therefore being proved guilty. Women, children, old men and the sick can have a Champion tofight for them, but if their Champion loses then they face execution unless the person they falsely accused has mercy on them and lets them live.

6-Boss of Bosses

What the local noble says, goes. He and the men-at-arms under him are the police, the judge, jury and executioners. There is no way in his area of appealing his judgements to anybody else. With the right kind of noble, one who genuinely wishes to be fair and to keep down crime, this system of swift justice can work quite well.

With a noble who is a criminal himself, or is too soft on criminals or too lazy to hold trials, or where the criminals are close friends of the noble, there is no justice to be found at his court.

7-We Rule Here, Not You

A powerful criminal gang such as the Mafia or The Regulators rule this area with an iron fist, and whilst they extort protection money, they have a great dislike of unafilliated criminals who think they can just walk in and defy them and make them look weak in their own backyard.
Trials are swift if they happen at all and punishments can involve beatings, kneecappings, nailings to the ground, or just murdering the culprit. The IRA and UVF in real life Northern Ireland are real life examples of this sort of violent *justice*.

8-Hang Em High

Woe betide the wrong-doer here, for he is likely to have his neck ending up in a noose, lynched by a gang of violent vigilantes. They have both dealt with some very nasty criminals indeed, and hanged the innocent on more then one occasion. The punishment often far exceeds the offence, but it does at least make many criminals steer clear of the area. This type of rough justice was common in the real life Wild West.

9-DIY Justice

In this anarchic land there is no justice except the justice you mete out yourself. No sane person will go outside his or her house without carrying a weapon, and the weak tend not to last very long unless they can find someone strong to protect them. Crime runs rampant and uncontrolled and the ecomony suffers because of it.

10-This Trial Is Such An Ordeal

The accused must plunge their hand into boiling water for several seconds, and then it is bandaged and left for a week. If it is clearly healing by the end of that time then the accused is innocent, but if it has gone bad then the accused is clearly guilty and must be punished. It was used in real life in Anglo-Saxon England.

11-Krytocracy

Here the judges do not just interpret the laws that our written by others, they are the politicians and the executive power as well. The country has evolved a vast multi-layered court system with plenty of chances to appeal a judge’s verdict to another judge or panel of judges. As a result trials can go on for years, and death sentences take decades to enforce by which time they have largly lost any deterant value.

If the country has a statuate of limitations, some guilty criminals are going to go free because the trial and appeal process takes so long. And those without money to pay for bail will lanquish in prison for a long time whilst their case ping pongs up and down through the court system.

12-Holy Justice

Here, the Gods themselves deliver justice with thunderbolts which strike either the guilty person or, if the accused one was innocent, the person who wrongly accused him or her. Getting justice is as simple as going to a temple and praying. For the murdered to have justice, someone must pray on their behalf.

It is best not to bother the gods too much over petty things, they don’t like it and might just smite the complainer instead. Instead of thunderbolts they might smite the criminal with boils, frogs, bug bites or hair loss if the crime is not worthy of death.

13-Convict Collar

At birth, all babies are injected with nanotech under the skin. If they behave badly, the nanotech punishes them automaticly. The brawler, for example, gets a massive headache if he hits anybody. The liar loses the power to speak. The murderer, the rapist and whoever committs high treason gets their neck blown apart as soon as they commit the capital crime.

14-We Are Family

Here the family unit is the person that you turn to if you want justice. Family feuds are commonplace and can go on for decades or even longer, and without a large family to back you up, you are nothing. Women are often urged to have as many children as possible to enlarge the family.

15-Werguild

If you break the law here, and you get caught, be prepared to pay up. Everything up to and including murder has a fine, with execution if you cannot or will not pay up. Of course, the fine you have to pay is much bigger if you murder or otherwise commit crimes against a noble then if you do the same against a poor person. The very rich can commit all manner of crimes with impunity providing they only commit them against the poor and don’t mind paying the fines. In real life this had a part to play in Anglo-Saxon England.

16-Judge Dredd

This man acts as policeman, judge and, if the crime is severe enough or if he is attacked, executioner. He is not just a warrior-policeman,however. He was trained expertly in the law so that he knows exactly what the punishment is for breaking each one. If he punishes somebody more them the law allows, he could find himself in quite serious trouble with his superiors.

17-I Am The Law

A man has been washed up alone on an island that as far as he knows is uninhabited, and as such he is restrained only by what he thinks is right and wrong.

18-Legal Parade

Here the lawyers who are not busy must parade themselves before any trial starts. For each case won they may wear a golden star on their navy blue robes. Provided they have the money to pay the client can pick the lawyer of his or her choice. Those who cannot pay up get left with the lowest-ranking lawyer there to represent them.

19-Court TV

In this country, all the major trials where there is a chance of a severe sentence is televised and it is the audience who phone in to decide if the accused person is innocent or guilty. Lawyers on both sides play outragously to the gallary in a way that might get them in trouble in other court systems. Some of the better ones enter politics.

20-Doctor, Doctor

Here criminals are seen as mentally ill and in need of treatment, and the lawyers and judges are doctors. The trial system itself is much like #1, but once convicted the sentences are different, and can involve such things as electro shock treatment and forcing the convict to take drugs to change their mood.

21-HAL

The evidence for and against the defendent is typed into a very powerful computer which then weighs everything pro and con, and decides if the accused is guilty. If the verdict is guilty, then the computer decides on a suitable verdict. It is must faster then with humans doing the trial and there is no human emotion involved in the sentencing which avoids sentences which are too light or too heavy for the crime committed.

22-Justice from the Dead

Captured criminals are made into Steamwalkers, fearsome animated skelitons that are able to detect and punish criminals rapidly without targeting the innocent. Unbribable and implacable, they either kill criminals on the spot or drag them away to be made into steamwalkers themselves. They are greatly feared by the criminals that they target.

23-Court Martial

In this military state, justice such as it is, is a military court of three officers as the judges, and an officer each for the prosecution and defence. When the judges make up their mind, the most junior officer in rank speaks first so that he can speak freely, without being swayed by the views of senior officers. The punishment for serious crimes is the firing squad, with hard labour for lesser offenses.

24-Police State

Here the police are also the judges and juries, and unlike in #16 Judge Dredd, they don’t have to adhere strictly to the law and are free to beat, jail, torture, abuse and execute suspects. Whilst the crime rate is quite low, some people think it is not worth the price, and a minority of officers are deliberatly hurting the innocent and giving the force a very bad name.

25-Wight Justice

In a few places like Barrowtown 1960 the dead take an interest in law enforcement of their own free will. Here it is the wights, the ghostly shadows of the kings of antiquity, who track wrongdoers down, and their idea of law enforcement is draconic. They kill those they catch misbehaving. It is not certain just why they have taken to targeting criminals in this way, but it is effective.

26-The Ten

The population is divided into groups of ten people and each of the ten is ordered to keep an eye on the other nine and stop them from breaking the law. It works in small villages but breaks down totally in large towns.

27-Wizards Rule

Here the wizards enforce the law and are the police and the judges, and they use magic to catch criminals and to help prove their guilt. All the top posts in soceity, legal or otherwise, are held by mages. Interestingly, the mages are harsher on their own when they break the law then non magic users.

28-Horribly Racist

The legal system here and how fair it is depends on the colour of your skin. Those of the right skin colour get a fair trial with a judge and jury, those who are not are lucky if they don’t get lynched by a hate group or murdered by the police before getting a trial.

29-No Lawyers

Only the very sick, the mentally ill, and the very old get lawyers. Anybody who has a healthy mind and body has to defend himself in front of a judge and jury. The laws in this country are framed so simply that the average ten year old can understand them, so there are not many legal loopholes to use anyway.

30-Napoleonic Code

The defendent has to prove that he or she did not committ the crime, and it is thought better that innocent people end up in prison or facing the death penalty then that there is a chance that the guilty might go free and unpunished. Other then that, it is very like #1 in that there is a judge and jury.

Notes-Purists would say rightly that this is not a true 30, more variations on a few themes, but I did my best.



Additional Ideas (1)

You can't forget the classic Monty Python system, where completely arbitrary lines of (un)reason hold sway. Useful only in silly campaigns, however.

Mob: "Burn the witch!"
Knight: "Wait, wait. How do you know she's a witch?"
Mob: "..Well, we don't. We just think she's a witch."
Knight: "Well, everyone knows that witches sink in water, right? What doesn't sink in water?"
Mob: "A duck!"
Knight: "Weigh her against a duck. If she's heavier than a duck, she's a witch."
*they weigh her, she's obviously heavier than a duck*
Accused witch: "Well, I can't deny the logic of that."
Mob: "Burn the witch!"
1xp

2009-01-14 05:09 PM » Link: [5557#69459|text]
Don't forget about my favorite part of that scene:

Knight: What do you burn in the winter?

Mob: WITCHES!!!

Knight: Ah, but what do you burn besides witches?

One idiot: MORE WITCHES!!

*peasant woman nearby cuffs him; he falls silent*

Another peasant: ...Wood!

Knight: Very good! And does wood sink in water?

Peasant: No... I-it floats!

Knight: excellent! And WHAT floats in water besides wood?

Various Peasants: Very small rocks!.... Churches! Churches!
0xp

2009-01-14 10:29 PM » Link: [5557#69466|text]
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Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

valadaar
January 14, 2009, 15:02
0xp
Will look at it again tonight, but my first suggestion is to use a spellcheck. Napoleonic for example.
angryscotsman93
January 14, 2009, 22:30
0xp
You also mispelled Wergild, mate. Still, cool idea. Never would've thought of that, personally.
Voted Chaosmark
January 14, 2009, 17:13
0xp
I wasn't entirely sure how you'd pull out thirty full systems of justice, but you did. Variations are to be expected, but that's what makes the systems different from each other anyway. I think this could be a useful reference for world designers, to help them pick the right feel for their countries. Good work.
Voted valadaar
January 16, 2009, 10:04
0xp
Not a bad one Cheka - a mix of real-world and fantasy systems. I'm sure there's room for more, but do not have any off the top of my head.
Voted Murometz
January 16, 2009, 10:14
0xp
What val said plus, it isnt easy coming up with such a 30. Good job.

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