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Judicial Proceedings Act 2016


[June 2nd, 2016]

An Act to provide for the creation of standardized procedures for the courts of the realm, and for other purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords and Burgesses in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

1. SHORT TITLE

This bill may be cited for all purposes as “Judicial Proceedings Act 2016.”

2. RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES OF PARTIES IN PROCEEDINGS

A. All parties in criminal or civil proceedings shall have a right to present evidence, compel the testimony of witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and present their arguments for the consideration of the court.

B. All parties shall have a right to due process, and parties are entitled to be treated fairly and equally in the eyes of the law.

C. All parties shall have a right to designate an individual to represent them in a proceeding and have the right to dismiss said representation at any time. All parties also have the right to represent themselves during proceedings.

D. All parties have a right to appeal a decision made against them to the next highest court, up to His Majesty in Parliament.

E. All evidence and witness testimony shall be posted in such a way that they shall be visible to all parties involved in a case. No evidence or witness will be considered by the court which is not viewable to all parties. All parties in all cases have the right to cross-examine witnesses.

3. PROBABLE CAUSE HEARINGS IN COURTS OF FIRST INSTANCE


A. Whenever a civil or criminal complaint is filed with the appropriate court of first instance, the court shall first determine whether or not probable cause exists in order to allow the case to proceed.

B. For civil cases, the court should determine whether or not there is sufficient reason to believe that the petitioner has presented sufficient evidence in their initial filing to warrant the court’s consideration on the matter. If the court determines that there is, the court shall file the case on the docket and hear the matter. If, in the opinion of the court, the case has virtually no chance of success and the evidence clearly does not support the matters laid out in the filing or is frivolous, the matter may be dismissed without further comment.

C. For criminal cases, the court should determine whether or not the complaining party has presented sufficient probable cause in their filing and evidence to warrant a summons to be issued to the Defendant and bringing the case to trial. The burden of probable cause in criminal matters shall be that the filing party has shown that it is more likely than not that the claims in their initial filing are true. If the court determines that probable cause exists, the matter shall be filed on the docket for the court to hear the matter. If, in the opinion of the court, this burden is not met, the matter may be dismissed without prejudice and not be considered by the court until a more substantive filing has been made. Clearly baseless, frivolous, or inappropriate filings may be dismissed with prejudice.

D. Probable cause proceedings shall ordinarily happen ex parte with only the moving party and the court. The court may, however, elect to bring in the Defendant or respondent party at its discretion.

E. Moving parties have a right to appeal a decision not finding probable cause to the next highest court of appeal, if applicable, but not beyond that level.

F. The court shall dismiss any case where the alleged offense occurred more than sixty days after the offense was discovered by the moving party. In circumstances where such a date is in dispute, the court shall determine what time frame the moving party would have reasonably become aware of the offense.


4. STANDARD CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: ARGUMENTS PHASE

A. After a criminal case has been referred to the docket after a finding of probable cause, the court shall issue a summons to the Defendant(s) and create some sort of communications group viewable to all parties and the Lord Chancellor to conduct the trial.

B. After the trial has been constituted and the Defendant(s) duly served, the court shall publish the initial complaint of the Prosecution in the court group so that the Defendant will be able to review the complaint and specific charges made against them. The court will then offer the Defendant up to 48 hours to enter a plea of “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”.

B1: Should the Defendant refuse to enter a plea or not enter a plea during the allotted time, the

court shall enter a “Not Guilty” plea on their behalf. Any plea other than “Guilty” shall be taken as “Not Guilty” by the court.

B2: A Defendant may change their plea during the course of the trial until such point as the judge(s) have reached a verdict.

C: If the Defendant enters a plea of Guilty to all counts, the case will then proceed to the sentencing phase. If the Defendant enters a plea of Guilty to some counts but not all, the court will reserve further consideration for the offenses the Defendant has plead guilty to the sentencing phase and consider the offenses the Defendant has plead Not Guilty to in the argument’s phase.

D. If the Defendant enters a plea of Not Guilty for at least one count, the case will then proceed to the arguments phase. The Prosecution will first present its case along with any opening arguments, evidence, and witness testimony. After presenting its case, the Defense will then have an opportunity to present its case along with any opening arguments, evidence, and witness testimony. After the Defense’s case, the Prosecution may (if it wishes) present a rebuttal case to the Defense’s case and evidence. The court shall have the power to place reasonable time requirements on the filing deadlines for the presentation of the cases and evidence. This shall normally suffice for the arguments phase of the trial.


E. For the initial presentation of the Prosecution and Defense cases, the court shall allot no less than 5 and no more than 12 days for the presentation of the case. If there are exceptional circumstances, the court may grant an extension not to exceed 12 days for the presentation of a party’s case. For rebuttal cases, the court shall allot no less than 3 and no more than 7 days. These deadlines should be openly published in the courtroom group, and should be equal in length for both parties, unless an extension for extraordinary circumstances has been granted.

F. The court shall be empowered to extend the arguments phase to allow the Defense and Prosecution further opportunities to continue the arguments if the court believes that such an extension would be worthwhile. In such a situation, the court must provide both parties the same opportunity for extended arguments and will follow the deadlines outlined in section E above concerning rebuttal cases for the time deadlines.

G. During the arguments phase, the court may consider any relevant motions from either party concerning the validity and admissibility of evidence, dismissal of particular charges, motions to strike parts of testimony, ruling on objections made to witness questions and statements, motions for mistrial, and any other motion deemed in order by the court.

5. STANDARD CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: DELIBERATIONS PHASE

A. After the presentation of arguments, evidence, and witnesses before the court, the judge(s) shall retire to deliberate on the guilt or innocence of the Defendant privately amongst themselves.

B. In order to find an individual guilty of a criminal offense, the Prosecution must have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of the said offense. If a judge determines after reviewing the evidence that this burden has been met, the judge shall find the individual guilty of the offense. If a judge determines after reviewing the evidence that this burden has not been met, the judge shall find the individual not guilty of the offense.

C. In the event there shall be multiple judges sitting on a panel, each judge shall issue a separate opinion. It shall be in order for a judge to simply state that they agree with the opinion of another judge. Judges may file separate opinions joining, concurring, dissenting, or concurring in part and dissenting part with the opinion of the court. A majority of judges must agree to find a Defendant guilty of an offense for a finding of guilt to be made. If a majority cannot be reached, the Defendant must be found not guilty.


D. After deliberations, the judge(s) shall draft an opinion in the case and publish this opinion publically in the courtroom group. In addition, this opinion shall be published in the Tartannac Gazette by the Chancery’s appropriate officer.

E. If the court makes a finding of guilty in one or more charges, the case shall then proceed to the sentencing phase. If the court found the Defendant not guilty on all charges, the court shall inform all parties of their right to appeal the court’s decision within 7 days of the publication of the opinion and this shall conclude the case.

6. STANDARD CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: SENTENCING PHASE

A. In the event that the Defendant shall have been found or plead guilty of one or more offenses, the court will then proceed to the sentencing phase. During this phase, both the Prosecution and Defense will have three days to present to the court arguments and recommendations for sentencing. During this phase, no additional evidence or witness testimony will be considered. The court may, at its discretion, extend the deadline for the presentation of sentencing no more than one week.

B. Following the arguments in the sentencing phase, the judge(s) shall again retire and consider the recommendations made by both parties, reviewing the previously submitted evidence as well as the applicable law. The judge(s) shall then agree upon a sentence consistent with law. In the event multiple judges sit on a panel, a majority of them must agree on a sentence. If a majority cannot agree on a sentence, the court shall impose the lesser of the sentences proposed by a judge.

C. Following an agreement on sentencing, the court shall publish the sentence in the courtroom group and the Chancery shall, through an appropriate officer, publish the same in the Tartannac Gazette.

D. Following the pronouncement of sentence, the court shall inform all parties that they have a right to appeal the decision to the next highest court within 7 days of the pronouncement of sentence and this shall conclude the case.

7. STANDARD CIVIL PROCEDURE: ARGUMENTS PHASE

A. After a civil case has been referred to the docket after a finding of probable cause, the court shall issue a summons to the Respondent(s) and create some sort of communications group viewable to all parties and the Lord Chancellor to conduct the trial.


B. The Petitioner will first present their case along with any opening arguments, evidence, and witness testimony. After presenting their case, the Respondent will then have an opportunity to present their case along with any opening arguments, evidence, and witness testimony. After the Respondent’s case, the Petitioner may (if they wish) present a rebuttal case to the Respondent’s case and evidence. The court shall have the power to place reasonable time requirements on the filing deadlines for the presentation of the cases and evidence. This shall normally suffice for the arguments phase of the trial.

C. For the initial presentation of the Petitioner and Respondent’s cases, the court shall allot no less than 3 and no more than 9 days for the presentation of the case. If there are exceptional circumstances, the court may grant an extension not to exceed 9 days for the presentation of a party’s case. For rebuttal cases, the court shall allot no less than 2 and no more than 5 days. These deadlines should be openly published in the courtroom group, and should be equal in length for both parties, unless an extension for extraordinary circumstances has been granted.

D. The court shall be empowered to extend the arguments phase to allow the Petitioner and Respondent further opportunities to continue the arguments if the court believes that such an extension would be worthwhile. In such a situation, the court must provide both parties the same opportunity for extended arguments and will follow the deadlines outlined in section 4.D above concerning rebuttal cases for the time deadlines.

E. During the arguments phase, the court may consider any relevant motions from either party concerning the validity and admissibility of evidence, dismissal of the case, motions to strike parts of testimony, ruling on objections made to witness questions and statements, motions for mistrial, and any other motion deemed in order by the court.

8. STANDARD CIVIL PROCEDURE: DELIBERATION PHASE AND ORDERS

A. The format for deliberations shall, where applicable, follow the rules in Section 5 above.

B. In civil cases, instead of determining Guilt or Innocence, the panel must look at the matter brought before the court and decide whether or not the Petitioner has proven that it is more likely than not that a breach of applicable law took place. If the court determines that this threshold is not met for all matters brought before the court, the court should rule in favor of the Respondent. If the court finds that at least one of these matters reached the threshold, then the court should rule in favor for the Petitioner in those matters which have reached the burden.


C. In the event that the court finds for the Petitioner in a civil case, the court shall issue one or more writs to compel compliance with the law and provide remedy for the Petitioner. Writs must be sufficiently narrow in scope to bring an individual, group, agency, or Government back into compliance with the law without creating legislation or policy. The writs which may be issued by the court are as follows:

D. A Writ of Mandamus may be issued in order to compel an individual, group, agency, or Government to perform a certain action to ensure into compliance with the law.

E. A Writ of Prohibition may be issued in order to compel an individual, agency, or Government to refrain from performing a certain action to ensure compliance with the law.

F. A Writ of Certiorari may be issued in order to quash a decision made by an individual, agency, or Government which was contrary to law.

G. A Writ of Discharge may be issued in order to vacate a previous writ issued by the court or by a court exercising its appellate jurisdiction to quash a writ from a lower court.

H. The court shall also be empowered when circumstances arise to issue Extraordinary Writs which do not meet the above criteria which are still within its power under law to issue and which are consistent with the scope and restraint required for the Judiciary in order to assure compliance with the law.

I. If multiple judges sit on a panel hearing a case, a majority must assent to the issuance of a writ for it to be issued. If a majority cannot agree, the writ may not be issued.

J. Following the finding of fact and agreement upon a writ to be issued, the court shall publish an opinion following the procedures outlined in Section 5.D.

9. APPELLATE PROCEDURES

A. A party that wishes to appeal a decision made by a lower court to the next highest court shall submit a petition for appellate review to that appellate court, outlining the reasons why an appeal should be granted.


B. Upon receiving a petition for appellate review, that court shall consider the petition and determine whether or not the petitioner has shown that there are grounds for appellate review. That court may direct a single judge to determine the worthiness of an application of appellate review, or may consider the application together, which requires a majority of judges to agree for the application to be granted.

C. A case should only be accepted for appellate review if the petitioner has shown that there may be reasonable suspicion that a lower court may have failed to follow proper procedures, if the lower court may have erred in its interpretation and application of the law, if new evidence emerged which was unavailable during the original trial for good reason, or if the panel has reasonable belief that the sentence imposed was too harsh and warrants further review.

D. In the event an application for appellate review is granted, the court may decide to stay the ruling of the lower court, preventing it from being executed until the appeals court has decided on the appropriate action. The appeals court should then service notice on the Respondent that an appeal has been granted, and add them to the appropriate Facebook group for the appeal process.

E. The court should then invite the Petitioner to present their case as to why the lower court’s ruling should be overturned or amended and allot no less than 3 but no more than 7 days to this purpose. The court shall then be able to ask the Petitioner questions for as long as it feels appropriate to do so concerning the merits of their case. The court shall then invite the Respondent to present their case as to why the lower court’s ruling should be upheld and allot no less than 3 but no more than 7 days to this purpose. The court shall then be able to ask the Respondent questions for as long as it feels appropriate to do so concerning the merits of their case.

F. The court shall be empowered to extend the arguments phase to allow the Petitioner and Respondent further opportunities to continue the arguments if the court believes that such an extension would be worthwhile. In such a situation, the court must provide both parties the same opportunity for extended arguments and will follow the deadlines outlined in section 4.D above concerning rebuttal cases for the time deadlines.

G. Following the finding of fact and agreement upon any appropriate appellate remedies or orders, the court shall publish an opinion following the procedures outlined in Section 5.D.


10. COMMENCEMENT

This legislation and all the provisions therein shall come into force upon receiving the Royal Assent.

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