Horizon Fleet Code of Justice

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

The following is the Code of Justice of the Eighth "Horizon" Fleet as ratified by a vote of the Commanding Officers and Fleet Council of the Horizon Fleet Community on 18 March 2013. It is the product of a policy review held in early 2013 and is a continuation of the original Code of Justice as adopted by the Commanding Officers and Fleet Council on 3 February 2008 as a guideline for fleet membership.

Contents

Article I - Horizon Fleet Code of Justice

The Horizon Fleet Code of Justice is an official policy of Horizon Fleet which codifies the authority, responsibilities, and structure of the Office of the Judge Advocate-General. It is designed to ensure the fair, impartial, and equitable discharge of Horizon Fleet's rules and regulations in accordance with the Horizon Fleet Constitution and shall have primacy over all other fleet documents except the Fleet Constitution.

Article II - The Office of the Judge Advocate-General

Section 1 - Description

The Office of the Judge Advocate-General oversees and governs all judicial matters within the Horizon Fleet Community in accordance with the Horizon Fleet Constitution and the Horizon Fleet Code of Justice. This office carries the full authority of the Fleet Council in its matters and dealings, with the right to grant or revoke such judicial authority to members of the fleet in order to ensure effective operation.

Section 2 - Personnel

1) Judge Advocate General (JAG)

  • Shall be a member of the Horizon Fleet Council.
  • Shall be both an Officer and Member of the Court.
  • Shall be responsible for maintaining all forms, documents, and webspaces of the office.
  • Shall be responsible for presiding over administrative and appeal cases unless a conflict of interest exists.
  • Shall be responsible for the assignment of personnel to preside and be a part of judicial panels including alternates to be used in the event of conflicts of interest or the disappearance of panel members during a trial.
  • Shall be responsible for administering the membership rolls of Fleet Judicial Advocates (FJAs) as well as approval of all Fleet Judicial Advocate training materials in cooperation with the Academy Director and the Fleet Council.
  • Shall possess full power and authority to conduct investigations on behalf of the Fleet Council once consent has been granted.
  • May hear and rule on points of law presented by Fleet Members.
  • May delegate their authority and responsibilities on a temporary basis as needed.

2) Deputy Judge Advocate General (DJAG)

  • Shall be both an Officer and Member of the Court.
  • Shall be responsible for assisting the Judge Advocate-General in maintaining all forms, documents, and webspaces of the office.
  • Shall be responsible for presiding over cases as assigned by the Judge Advocate-General unless a conflict of interest exists.
  • Shall be responsible for assisting the Judge Advocate-General to hear and rule on points of law presented by Fleet Members.
  • May assume temporary authority and responsibilities of the Office of the Judge Advocate-General during Leaves of Absence or conflicts of interest as needed.

3) Associate Judge Advocate-General (AJAG)

  • Shall be both an Officer and a Member of the Court.
  • Shall be appointed on a temporary basis for a predetermined duration as needed by the Fleet Council at the request of the Judge Advocate-General.
  • Shall either be an accredited Fleet Judicial Advocate or have attained the minimum rank of Captain.
  • May be assigned as needed to preside over any court or hearing as a temporary Member of the Court with the judicial powers and authority of the Office of the Judge Advocate-General.

4) Temporary Judicial Officer (TJO)

  • Shall be both an Officer and a Member of the Court.
  • Shall be appointed on a temporary basis for hearing or presiding over a single trial either individually or as member of a judicial panel.
  • Shall either be an accredited Fleet Judicial Advocate or have attained the minimum rank of Captain.

5) Fleet Judicial Advocates (FJA)

  • Shall be an Officer of the Court only when serving as judicial representation in an active case.
  • Shall have completed an appropriate course of training or otherwise provided some service with distinction to the Office of the Judge Advocate-General.
  • Shall be a member of the Rolls of Fleet Judicial Advocates by the Judge Advocate-General.
  • Shall be granted the authority of the Office of the Judge Advocate-General to carry out investigations relevant to their cases.

6) Temporary Fleet Advocate (TFA)

  • Shall be an Officer of the Court only when serving as judicial representation in an active case.
  • Shall be someone requested by an individual undergoing a court-marital to serve as representation.
  • Shall have the approval to act as representation from the Judge Advocate-General.
  • Shall be granted the authority of the Office of the Judge Advocate-General to carry out investigations relevant to their cases.

Section 3 - Courts of the Fleet

The Office of the Judge Advocate-General has authority to convene four different courts as needed to provide judicial services to the Horizon Fleet Community.

1) Emergency Court

  • Emergency petitions may be filed with the Office of the Judge Advocate General to provide quick relief when the situation does not allow for a full trial to be convened before action must be taken.
  • Emergency petitions are heard by the Judge Advocate-General or Deputy Judge Advocate-General as they are received.
  • The judicial officer hearing the petition will consider it on its own merits and may choose to grant an Emergency Order or deny the petition. The presiding officer must also issue a brief opinion explaining their decision.
  • An Emergency Order shall place a temporary hold on any action the Emergency Petition sought to prevent until a full trial can be convened. For example, an Emergency Order granted to someone petitioning for judicial hearing regarding their removal from a simulation would place a temporary hold on the removal and character deletion until formal proceedings could be carried out. Emergency Orders are considered valid authority for the duration of a trial unless otherwise discharged by the presiding officer or the Judge Advocate-General.
  • Emergency Orders are intended to address emergency situations until proper proceedings can be held by the Office of the Judge Advocate-General. As such, Emergency Orders are not subject to appeal.

2) Administrative Court

  • Is limited to administrative decisions, actions, and issues of the Fleet.
  • May only review administrative decisions or actions on the following grounds:
    • Illegality - The decision or action violates Fleet Law or goes beyond the authority of the individual who issued the decision.
    • Unreasonableness - The decision or action is irrational or is not within the reasonable bounds of response to the situation.
    • Procedural Impropriety - Proper administrative procedures were not followed in carrying out a decision or action.
  • May not issue disciplinary measures beyond the authority of the court as described in the Code of Justice and the Fleet Constitution.
  • The decisions of this court are not subject to appeal.

3) Criminal Court

  • Shall not hear cases regarding an individual's first offense as it is the responsibility of the chain of command to address issues before involving the Office of the Judge Advocate-General.
  • May convene a general court-martial upon request by a petitioner either when they have already been disciplined or as they are about to be disciplined. The court may also convene a general court-martial upon its own authority if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the fleet.
  • Shall be responsible for determining guilt or innocence of the Defendant based upon the evidence provided by all parties concerned as well as the appropriate provisions within Fleet Law and Policy.
  • Shall issue orders as the court finds appropriate to remedy any situation in which a Defendent is found to be innocent. For example, the court may order opportunity for re-assignment of the Defendant to another simulation through the Department of Personnel & Awards or Task Force Commanding Officer if the presiding officer feels the Defendant would face unwarranted persecution due to the court's proceedings.
  • Shall issue orders to uphold, modify, or issue appropriate punishments in any situation where the Defendant is found by due process to be guilty of either the original charges or lesser ones.

4) Appellate Court

  • Shall only hear cases of appeal which have already been heard by the Criminal Court.
  • Shall have access to all records and participants from the original case made available to it.
  • Shall not be presided over by any members of the original Criminal Trial due to conflicts of interest.
  • Shall hear cases based on:
    • Procedural impropriety
    • Error of fact
    • New evidence which would disprove the verdict
    • New evidence which would give cause to mitigate the sentencing
  • May uphold, modify, or dismiss either the Verdict or the Sentence of the original Court based on its own findings.

Article III – Authority & Jurisdiction

The Courts recognize the need to trust the Commanding Officers of the Fleet in their decisions and abilities to govern their respective simms. The Courts also recognize the necessity to respect the chain of command. As such, the following policies are set in place regarding authority and jurisdiction.

The Office of Judge Advocate General issues the following Judicial Authority to Commanding Officers, Task Force Commanding Officers, Director for Personnel and Awards, Director of the Academy, and Fleet Council:

Section 1 - Commanding Officers

1) Are granted the ability to develop and enforce appropriate judicial policies and regulations on the Simm level, as well as the power to take reasonable administrative action against those who violate those policies and regulations. Such actions include, but are not limited to, demotion, probation, or removal from a ship. The JAG reserves the right to review, offer advice on, or modify (after a formal investigation and hearing) any decision it deems was made outside of the appropriate and reasonable authority of the Commanding Officer, as outlined in the description for the Court of Administrative Matters. Players may Petition for such a review with the Courts.

2) Are not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against a player for violation of a Fleet regulation or policy which falls outside the immediate authority of the Commanding Officer. In such cases, the Commanding Officer must Petition for Court Martial. If the Courts feel there is sufficient reason to investigate, they will notify all parties involved and the Court Martial will convene.

3) Are not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against players outside of their simulation. Policy violations must be reported to the player’s regular CO for investigation, and then to the Task Group Commanding Officer if it is felt the player’s CO fails to respond to the situation, and finally to the Task Force Commanding Officer if it is felt the TGCO has failed to respond to the situation. Should the TFCO fail to respond to the situation, the CO is then permitted to Petition for Court Martial. JAG will not accept cases which have not followed this Chain of Command.

4) Are not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against any player in the fleet for personal grievances. In these situations, they may Petition for Hearing to request the Courts to address such grievances.

Section 2 - Task Force Commanding Officers

1) Are granted the ability to enforce appropriate judicial policies and regulations on the Task Force level in regards to Fleet Operation (i.e.: submission of monthly reports), as well as the power to take reasonable administrative action against those who violate said policies and regulations. Such actions include, but are not limited to, demotion, issuance of strikes, removal from Command. This does not, however, include permanent bans.

  • Any administrative/disciplinary decisions (i.e., strikes) must be sent to the JAG office as a matter of record and review. The JAG reserve the right to review, offer advice on, or modify (after a formal investigation and hearing) any decision it deems was made outside of the appropriate and reasonable authority of the TFCO, as outlined in the description for the Court of Civil Matters. Players may Petition for such a review with the Courts if they feel they were improperly charged.
  • Creation of additional policies and regulations which would be subject to administrative/disciplinary actions, and which are not already in place on the Task Force level, is deferred to the Fleet Council.

2) Are granted the ability (in coordination with the Department of Personnel and Awards) to authorize 90-day bans from command for Commanding Officer resignation, removals, or application rejection.

3) Are not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against a player for violation of a Fleet regulation or policy which falls outside the immediate authority of the TFCO. In such cases, the TFCO must Petition for Court Martial. If the Courts feel there is sufficient reason to investigate, they will notify all parties involved and the Court Martial will convene.

4) Are not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against players outside the immediate subordination of the TFCO. This includes non-Commanding Officers on ships within the TF, except in such cases where grievances require investigation and the normal Commanding Officer cannot or will not conduct such an investigation. For non-Commanding Officers in other Task Forces where the normal Commanding Officer cannot or will not conduct an investigation of grievances, the appropriate TFCO and TGCO should be notified. Should the matter still fail to be addressed, the TFCO may Petition for Court Martial. In the case where the grievance is against a Commanding Officer in another Task Force, the appropriate TFCO and TGCO should be notified. Should the matter fail to be resolved, the TFCO may Petition for Court Martial. The JAG will not accept any cases which have not followed this chain of command.

5) Are not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against any player in the fleet for personal grievances. In these situations, they may Petition for Hearing to request the Courts to address such grievances.

Section 3 - Director of Personnel and Awards

1) Is granted the judicial ability to enforce appropriate policies and regulations in regards to Fleet Operation (i.e.: processing of applications, submission of departmental monthly reports, etc.), including the ability to take administrative/disciplinary actions against those who violate said policies and regulations. Creation of additional policies and regulations which would be subject to administrative/disciplinary actions is deferred to the Fleet Council.

2) Is granted the ability (in coordination with the Task Force Commanding Officers) to authorize 90-day bans from command for Commanding Officer resignation, removals, or application rejection.

3) Is granted the ability (in coordination with the Judge Advocate-General) to update existing bans to include all aliases and necessary information.

4) Is not authorized to issue administrative/disciplinary actions against a player for violation of a Fleet regulation or policy which falls outside the immediate authority of the DPA office. In such cases, the DPA must Petition for Court Martial. If the Courts feel there is sufficient reason to investigate, they will notify all parties involved and the Court Martial will convene.

Section 4 - Director of the Academy

1) Is granted the ability to create and enforce appropriate judicial policies and regulations in regards to the operation of the Fleet Academy, including the ability to take administrative/disciplinary actions against those who violate said policies. Such actions are the ability to remove players from academy courses, and/or authorize temporary or permanent bans from taking/re-taking courses in the future.

2) Any administrative/disciplinary decisions (i.e., removals) made in conjunction with an individual’s superior (ie Task Force Commanding Officer, simulation Commanding Officer) must be sent to the JAG office as a matter of record and review. The JAG reserve the right to review, offer advice on, or modify (after a formal investigation and hearing) any decision it deems was made outside of the appropriate and reasonable authority of the Academy, as outlined in the description for the Court of Civil Matters.

Section 5 - The Fleet Council

1) Is granted the ability, with at least three (3) members in support, to bring charges against any player in violation of Fleet Law in which the course of action falls outside the reasonable jurisdiction of the player’s Commanding Officer. Such charges include, but are not limited to, any Fleet or Capital Offenses. In the event the Fleet Council consists of less than four members (including the Judge Advocate-General), then the two remaining members must be in agreement and must receive approval from the Judge Advocate-General before proceedings can be officially opened. The Fleet Council may, at its discretion with the approval of the JAG office, circumvent the Chain of Command to bring charges in the interest of justice.

Article IV - Trial Procedures

The following general procedures are to be used by the Administrative, Criminal, and Appellate courts.

Section 1 - Pre-Trial

1) Except in cases of extraordinary circumstance, a case begins when an individual petitions the Office of the Judge Advocate-General for judicial services. Petitions must be filed within seven (7) days of the decision or disciplinary measures for which the individual is filing petition unless portions of the Leave of Absence policy affect this time limit. Petitions should be as complete as possible and should include any available evidence as well as requests for any eligible Advocates willing to serve on the individual's behalf.

2) A defendant may be charged in separate counts with two or more offenses only if the offenses charged are of similar character, based on the same action, or make up parts of a common scheme or plan.

3) The Judge Advocate-General may order separate cases be tried together if all offenses and all defendants could have been joined in a single complaint. This does not apply when the cases fall under the authority of different courts.

4) The Judge Advocate-General shall review the information contained within the petition once it has been received to determine whether the case has merit.

5) The Judge Advocate-General will send the petition back to its originator if it is felt the petition was incomplete or incompetent. They will provide instructions for correcting any issues with the petition and the sender will have seven (7) days in which to return a corrected version, regardless of the original time limit for filing the petition. Such revisions may only be allowed once.

6) The Judge Advocate-General will refer any petition which does not fall under the immediate authority of the court to the appropriate Fleet Member for review.

7) The Judge Advocate-General will contact all concerned parties to inform them if it is felt the case has no merit or will otherwise not be heard by the court. The Judge Advocate-General should be cautious whenever making such a decision so as not to enable a miscarriage of justice.

8) The Judge Advocate-General will have seven (7) days to appoint a presiding officer or judicial panel for the case if the petition is felt to have merit. Judicial panels will consist of one presiding officer and two additional eligible panel members.

9) The presiding officer or judicial panel will issue a summons including all the information from the petition and any preliminary orders meant to hold peace with both parties of the dispute until the case can be heard. These orders will remain in effect throughout the duration of the hearing unless otherwise upheld in the final decision.

10) The other party will have seven (7) days to provide any evidence and appoint any eligible Fleet Judicial Advocates once a summons has been issued.

11) Any party consisting of more than one individual shall choose one person to act as their representative to the court if no Fleet Judicial Advocate is chosen.

Section 2 - In-Trial

1) The presiding officer will ensure all members of the panel and all participants receive all communications related to the case unless such communications are specifically directed to the presiding officer of the case only.

2) All participants should remember that disruptive or disrespectful behavior is grounds for "Contempt of Court", a charge which is decided upon issuance by the presiding officer of the case. Such charges may involve disciplinary action or even dismissal of the case.

3) Parties shall take turns presenting further arguments with seven (7) day time limits. The Petitioner shall be allowed opportunity to present their full argument (if they have not already done so as part of their original petition), followed by an opportunity for the Defendant to respond. A final rebuttal from the Petitioner will be allowed before the presiding officer begins final deliberations. 4) The court may render a decision summarily if either party fails to respond in the allotted time, either with additional evidence or a request for an extension.

Section 3 - Post-Trial

1) The presiding officer(s) shall deliberate on both the verdict and the sentencing, considering any mitigating factors which may affect charges and sentencing.

2) The presiding officer(s) shall write up a formal opinion which describes the processes they went through in determining the verdict and sentencing of the defendant. These opinions shall be made public unless otherwise ordered by the Judge Advocate-General to assist future panel members, Fleet Judicial Advocates, and help clarify any precedents the case may establish.

3) Decisions involving a judicial panel need not be unanimous, though the official ruling opinion and sentencing should reflect the decision of the panel as accurately as possible.

4) All opinions, verdicts, and sentencing shall be published by the presiding officer and made available to all parties concerned. Documentation shall then be filed appropriately by the Judge Advocate-General except for extraordinary circumstances in which the records have been sealed from public view.

5) The presiding officer may refer additional case(s) to the Judge Advocate-General because of evidence provided during the trial.

Article V - Offenses

The following offenses are officially recognized by the Office of the Judge Advocate-General when dealing with cases before the Criminal Court.

Section 1 - Severity

All offenses shall be charged with a specific severity. Lesser severities will still be considered even if the one charged is set aside.

1) Basic - The least severe. Basic offenses affect a single person.

2) Serious - Serious offenses are committed purposely, knowingly, or recklessly and usually affect multiple members of the fleet.

3) Gross - Gross offenses are committed purposely and significantly affect multiple members of the fleet or more. The severity of the conduct in question greatly exceeds the severity necessary to constitute the offense.

Section 2 - General Offenses

General offenses are non-specific offenses used to cover situations not addressed by specific offenses.

1) Conduct Unbecoming an Officer (CUBO) - Any action by a Fleet Member which dishonors or disgraces the officer's station, their ship, the Fleet, or any other Fleet Member.

2) Professional Misconduct - Any wrongful act performed by a Fleet Member in an official capacity.

3) Personal Misconduct - Any wrongful act performed by a Fleet Member outside their official capacity.

Section 3 - Specific Offenses

Specific offenses should be used instead of general offenses whenever possible.

1) Contravention - Any action which violates Fleet Law by violating the Fleet Constitution, Fleet Policy, By-Law, or Standing Order. eg: Violating the IRC Policy would be stated as "Contravention of IRC Policy"

2) Insubordination - Refusal to obey a lawful order from a superior officer or officer in command.

3) Libel - Any action which results in defamation of a person or organization by written or representational means. A person is not guilty of this Offense if the statements that constituted the defamation are true.

4) Perjury - Purposely lying to a Court of the Fleet.

5) Judicial Tampering - Any attempt to influence or exert pressure on a court, appellate panel, jury or member thereof.

6) Contempt of Court - Any action which disrespects the court’s authority and/or purposefully or knowingly disobeys a lawful court order.

7) Conspiracy -A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person(s) to commit an Offense if, with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission, they agree with such other person(s) that they or one or more of them will engage in such conduct that constitutes such Offense or agrees to aid such person(s) in the planning or commission of such Offense.

8) Complicity - A person is guilty of an offense if it is committed by their own conduct or by the conduct of another person for which they are accountable, or both. A person is accountable for the conduct of another when they cause an innocent or irresponsible person to engage in such conduct, or they are an accomplice of another person in the commission of the offense. A person is an accomplice of another person in the commission of an offense if, with the purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense, they solicit such other person to commit it or they aid, agree, or attempt to aid such other person in planning or committing it.

9) Dereliction of Duty - A person is guilty of this offence if they have not performed the duties of their office to a degree where it presents the possibility of a loss of fleet members or other negative effects due to their inactivity.

Article VI - Judicial Terminology and Definitions

The following is meant to serve as a valuable resource to make clear some of the terms and concepts used by the Office of the Judge Advocate-General.

Section 1 - Motions

Requests from the prosecution or defense to the court for court orders are called Motions. The motion must state with particularity the grounds for seeking the order and state the relief sought. Motions are not always granted and may be denied. Some common motions are:

1) To Strike - This motion requests that a piece of evidence be stricken from the case records and must include a specific reason for the exclusion.

2) Extension - If one party in the case is in need of extra time to present their argument, they may present a motion for an extension.

3) Subpoena - This requests the court to require the testimony of a witness in a case. The witness whom the court has subpoenaed is required to respond or face contempt charges; however, the court may not force a witness to provide testimony that will incriminate themselves.

4) Summary Judgment - Is a request to end the trial at the current point. Evidence already submitted is to be considered in a light favorable to the non-moving party.

5) To Rest - Is a request to end the trial at the current point. Evidence already submitted will be considered on its own merit with no bias. Evidence or argument may not be presented with the request to rest.

6) Dismissal - Is a request to end the trial immediately most often used when the individual(s) moving for dismissal feel the opposing party has not presented sufficient evidence to warrant further proceedings.

7) New Trial - Is a request for the court to vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires. If the case was tried without a Panel, the court may take additional testimony and enter a new judgment.

8) To Seal - Is a request for an Order of Sub-Judice. Usually the request will be granted at least during the trial, but it is up to the presiding officer to determine whether the information presented during the trial is of a sensitive enough nature to Uphold the order once the trial is concluded.

Section 2 - Court Orders

Orders commonly issued by the court. Orders made during the pre- and in-trial phases expire after the trial is concluded unless specifically upheld in the Opinion.

1) Order of Certiorari - An order which voids/quashes a decision of a Fleet Member.

2) Order of Discharge - An order cancelling a previous order.

3) Order of Interdict - An order requiring a Fleet Member not to do something.

4) Order of Mandamus - An order requiring a Fleet Member to do something.

5) Order of Sub-Judice - A form of Order of Interdict which requires all participants (including the judicial panel) in a trial to not discuss the case with those not involved. Unless otherwise stated, this order is assumed to be in effect for all judicial proceedings.

6) Order Extraordinary - An order which allows JAG to do something that is within its authority, but not covered by the other orders.

Section 3 - Trial Medium

Trials will be conducted by e-mail. All arguments, motions, and other submissions to the court should be sent to the presiding officer and, if present in the case, the rest of the judicial panel who will then forward the information on to the opposing party with notification that they have seven (7) days to respond. At the option of the presiding officer, a list server/service such as YahooGroups or GoogleGroups may be used to simplify making sure everyone gets all submissions.

Section 4 - Conflicts of Interest

Where a member or an officer of the court acting on a judicial panel or as a presiding officer has a vested interest in a specific outcome of a trial. Members of the court are expected to excuse themselves if such circumstances exist. Examples include, but are not limited to:

1) Is directly above or below one of the parties involved in a trial.

2) Believes their relationship with one or more parties involved in a trial may affect or be affected by their participation in such proceedings

The Judge Advocate-General reserves the ultimate authority to determine or alter investigation and/or trial proceedings based on circumstances surround such events, including, but not limited to, availability of Court personnel, conflict of interests, time constraints, or other situations that affect the timely and efficient manner of justice.

Article VII – Amendments

Amendments may be made to the Horizon Fleet Code of Justice through By-Law as outlined in the Horizon Fleet Constitution.