Auroran Court of Justice
|Auroran Court of Justice|
|Established||December 21, 2017|
|Jurisdiction||United Nations of the Auroran Continent|
|Motto|| Iustitiae omnibus|
Justice for all
|Composition method||Each judge is appointed by a member state|
|Appeals from||Highest courts of member states|
|Judge term length||10-year|
|Number of positions||22 (All member states get 1)|
|Chief Justice of the UNAC|
The Auroran Court of Justice or ACJ comprises the judicial branch of the United Nations of the Auroran Continent and the final court of appeal on matters of Auroran law and the final arbiter on the interpretation of the agreements and acts of the UNAC. Auroran law refers the body of law concerning and arising from the collective interests of UNAC member states and it arises from treaties, legislation, executive decrees, judicial precedents and international customary law. It consists of judges appointed by member states of the UNAC who serve for life and wield immunity in the exercise of their duties to shield them from political influence. The court is created as an impartial and independent arbiter of disputes between member states, Protector of fundamental rights and justice and the arbiter on the letter and spirit of Auroran law. Its decisions are binding on all member states and its jurisdiction is bound by treaty or statute and extends only to those areas granted to it by the latter and former. The court is seated in Andel, Axdel
Powers and duties
The Auroran Court of Justice has various powers related to different elements of the judicial process as follows:
Final court of appeal
It is the last court which can hear appeals on cases arising from Auroran law. It means that a case heard by the ACJ cannot be retried by or appealed to any other court.
Any decision made by the ACJ in a case on the interpretation of how a law applies to a set of facts is binding on all courts. This means that all courts, even the highest courts of member states are required to follow the decision that the Auroran Court of Justice made and that decision can only be overturned when new laws are passed, treaties are ratified or a new bench of the ACJ itself overturns the old precedent. The decisions of the ACJ in turn form part of Auroran law.
The ACJ has the power to overturn any law which is passed by the Legislative branch of the UNAC if it does not conform to the treaties and Charter of the UNAC. Because treaties override all legislative instruments, the ACJ cannot overturn treaties. In theory, it has the power to overturn laws passed by member states which do not conform to the Charter of the UNAC. This is unlikely as it is unlikely that any legislation passed by a member state will lie within the scope of powers of the ACJ at all.
Where a dispute arises between member states of the UNAC, the parties can bring the dispute to the ACJ. The decision of the ACJ is binding on member states which subject themselves to this process. This process is voluntary but only to the point that the dispute in question does not arise from the violation of treaties and statutes of the UNAC.
Where a member state has violated a treaty or statute of the UNAC, the Prosecutor-General of the UNAC can bring a case against that member state to the ACJ. The decision of the ACJ is binding on the violating country should it be found guilty of treaty violations.
Sapient rights protection
The ACJ has the power to issue warrants for the arrest of individuals charged with the crimes against sapient beings and sapient rights violations. It also has the power to act as a court of first instance in the case of war crimes, crimes against sapient beings and other related offences, meaning that if domestic courts fail to enforce justice, the ACJ is empowered to try offenders itself with the right to enforce punishment up to life imprisonment.
The ACJ has the power to hold political leaders of the UNAC accountable for violations of Auroran law. This means it can impeach and order the removal from office of UNAC office-holders who violate Auroran law. In most instances the Prosecutor-General must bring such cases to the ACJ. It may try political leaders for violations of laws which fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the UNAC but if the law has shared responsibility then the ACJ may ask the courts of member states to tackle the issue instead.
Member states, the Council of the UNAC and the UNAC Commission have the right to approach the ACJ for an advisory opinion on certain types of legal questions. This means that there are no opposing parties and the decision that is handed down is non-binding. However, these advisory opinions carry significant weight as they preempt potential decisions that the court might face when faced with the same set of facts under similar legal and ethical conditions. This power has been criticized for this reason as it is perceived to offer a pretrial that is heavily based on the opinions, evidence and one-sided arguments of one party. Others argue that advisory opinions help guide the UNAC bodies to conform to Auroran law and it prevents unnecessary litigation by providing clarity on legal issues.
The Chief Justice is the highest-ranking judicial officer of the UNAC. The Chief Justice is responsible for Chairing the oral trials, allocating justices to cases, determining which cases land on the roster and when, ensuring that the justices are doing their jobs and are able to do their jobs and representing the ACJ to external bodies. The Chief Justice also has various miscellaneous powers such as being able to request upgrades to the ACJ court building etc.
Justices are the central component of the ACJ. Each member state appoints one Justice. The justices serve for 10 year terms and can only be removed from office due to physical or mental incapacitation, death, voluntary resignation and violation of their duties and responsibilities as justices. Every judge is addressed by the title the "Esteemed" or "Honorable" followed by their name. In court proceedings, the justices are referred to as "Your Honour" or "Your Worship". The name of each Justice is followed by the post nominal JACJ, however the Chief Justice of the ACJ is followed by the post nominal CJACJ. Judges receive a fixed salary that cannot be arbitrarily changed by the UNAC legislative or executive branches. They are also protected from prosecution for actions carried out in their duties as justices. Failing to comply with the instructions of justices during court proceedings or treating a justice with contempt or disrespect in court is a criminal Offence. Justices are required to be judges, lawyers or legal academics in their country of origin.
|Chief Justice Julia Stone||Emberwood Coast|
|Maria Ioana Doscampos||Andorinhões|
|Pounamu Waitangi||Oan Isles|
The Court Sheriff is responsible for a variety of functions such as receiving and processing cases being made to the Auroran Court of Justice. The Sheriff is responsible for ensuring that cases are valid, but only a pre-trial bench determines if they are admissible. The Sheriff is also in charge of security at the court building in Andel.
The Prosecutor-General (PG) is responsible for bringing and arguing cases concerned with Auroran criminal law. This includes treaty violations and sapient rights violations among other related offences. Member states, the UNAC Commission or the UNAC Council can request that the Prosecutor-General bring a case before the ACJ. The PG is responsible for investigating the matter, compiling reports, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses and other duties related to criminal cases. The PG is independent and any willful obstruction of their work is a criminal offence.
Procedures and protocols
Prior to trial
A party which wishes to bring a dispute or report a treaty or sapient rights violation is called the complainant. The complainant presents a request to the Prosecutor-General in the event that the case is falls within Auroran criminal law. In the case that the complainant wishes to bring a civil dispute for Arbitration, then they must present the matter to the Court Sheriff to determine its legal validity. Upon determining that the matter, is valid, the case will be brought before the pretrial bench.
The pretrial bench will consists of one or more justices and it will determine whether there is grounds for litigation, whether appropriate and alternative remedies were sought by the complainant, whether documentation will be sufficient or whether an oral trial is needed. In criminal proceedings, the pretrial process will consist of additional appearances and steps such as finding out whether there is probable cause to suggest that a criminal act took place and what kinds of steps should be taken (such as whether and what type of warrants and subpoenas will be required). If the case is admitted the complainant will be called the plaintiff if the case is a criminal case. The accused will be asked to appear before the court. The accused in a criminal case is called the defendant and the accused in a civil case is called a respondent.
The trial bench will actually examine the case. In a civil application, the trial bench will only receive written documentation and maybe some appearances from lawyers to provide explanation on any matter the justices may be unclear on. This is usually the case in appeals. And the justices will issue a summons requiring that the respondent in a civil case present counter evidence. If a case of such a nature that it is too emotional, complex etc., an oral trial will be held in which the parties may question witnesses. In a criminal case, an arrest warrant will be issued in which the defendant must either appear voluntarily or be brought to custody by force. Member states and the Auroran Security Agency are legally obliged to enforce the arrest warrant if the court determines that the defendant is non-cooperative.
If the defendent is brought into custody, the court may set bail and impose travel restrictions etc., or simply hold the defendent in detention until the end of the trial if the defendant is a flight risk or is in danger of being harmed or of harming others should they be released. The oral trial will involve witness testimonies and oral arguments. In different types of cases, a certain amount of judges are required to be there, but it cannot be less than half of available judges. The judges must vote by a simple majority or a two thirds majority, whichever is higher. In some cases, a unanimous agreement is required. Dissenting or minority opinions must be noted and all trials are public.
Should the parties to the case be unsatisfied with the outcome, they may request an appeal. In the event that an adverse ruling is made against a member state, that member state may request an interdict on any action that the UNAC might take in response, such as suspension or termination of membership, economic sanctions, blockade or invasion etc., while it seeks an appeal on its case. There are no preliminary processes to appealing a case. The Court Sheriff will place the case on the roster according to time constraints. On appeal, the parties will solely rely on whether there were procedural or substantive errors in the judgment that was made. The appeals bench may consist of the same justices as before, but not less. They cannot retry the case or review old evidence except in exceptional circumstances where new evidence has emerged which was material to the case, but these situations are untested.
Some cases do not follow this procedure. Legal advisory cases require an application to the Court Sheriff. The Court Sheriff will invite anyone to come forward to contribute to the case. In many ways the matter follows many of the protocols of a normal trial. The major difference is that no arguments with rebuttal are presented and the justices are free to make their own investigations independent of anything presented by the parties or contributors. Legal advisory cases cannot be appealed. An entirely new case must be brought up to challenge a previous ruling in which case any ruling that goes against previous advise supplants it.
There are interdictions as well. An interdiction is a situation in which a complainant goes to the court to demand that a certain action be stopped before occurring. This can include the seizure of property by a third party etc. The court will issue an interdict to temporarily suspend the enactment of the action until the dispute is resolved within or out of trial. Interdicts have a finite period and may require renewal (which the court is not obligated to grant). Moreover, where a statutory body of the UNAC has legitimate cause to undertake an action, an interdiction is highly unlikely to be granted and where it is granted, will most likely be restricted to reducing the intensity or scope of the action (e.g., if the Auroran Security Agency conducts a raid).
The following courts are members of the ACJ. This means that the ACJ can receive appeals from these courts where the matter falls within the remit of the UNAC.
|Asilica||Constitutional Court of Asilica|
|Emberwood Coast||High Magistrate of Emberwood Coast|
|Great Morstaybishlia||Supreme Court of Great Morstaybishlia|
|North Ethalrian Confederacy|
|Oan Isles||Supreme Court of the Oan Isles|
|Peregrinia (Observer)||Prime Judicature of Peregrinia|