** TEXT CURRENT AS OF 9TH JUNE 2019 **
Judicature Act (2012)
An Act to compose and empower a Judiciary, and impose procedure for its application.
This Act may be cited as the Judicature Act (2012).
PART I: COMPOSITION AND JURISDICTION
Section 1. Composition of the Court
(a) The High Court shall consist of the Trial Court and the Court of Appeal
(b) When exercising its Jurisdiction over Criminal Cases or Judicial Reviews, the Trial Court shall consist of one judge and shall be presided over by (in order of preference):
(1) the Chief Justice
(2) an Associate Justice designated by the Chief Justice
(3) the Primus Inter Pares
(4) an Associate Justice designated by the Primus Inter Pares
(b2) When exercising its Jurisdiction over Advisory Opinions, the Chief Justice may select between the Trial Court consisting of one judge, as provided for above, or the whole Court sitting en banc.
(c) The Court of Appeal shall consist of the Chief Justice and Associate Justices that are in office when an appeal is heard and remain in office through to the conclusion of the appeal process. No Justice shall serve on the Court of Appeal for any matter in which they were officially involved in the Trial Court, including presiding over the matter, being a party to the matter, or working as counsel on the matter.
Section 2. Jurisdiction
(a) The Trial Court shall have jurisdiction over (a) Criminal Cases, (b) requests for Judicial Review, and (c.) Advisory Opinions, in each case as defined in Section 3 below.
(b) The Court of Appeal shall have jurisdiction over appeals from decisions of the Trial Court in Criminal Cases or requests for Judicial Review. The Court of Appeal may also review a decision by the Chief Justice or their designate not to accept a case application.
(c.) The High Court may, in its discretion, exercise continuing jurisdiction over any case pending at the time this Act becomes law until the final disposition of that case, including appeals.
Section 3. Types of Cases
(a) Criminal Cases are cases brought by the Republic, or by a person seeking to represent the Republic, against a defendant, alleging that the defendant has violated the laws of Europeia.
(b) Judicial Review is a proceeding which, if successful, would either result in an order by the Court commanding a Citizen to take (or refrain from taking) a particular action or actions, or would result in a Court declaration that a person is (or is not) the rightful holder of a particular office.
(1) The Court shall order a Citizen to act (or refrain from acting) only if that action is the only lawful action that may be taken by the Citizen -- or, if the order is to refrain from an action, only if that action would be unlawful.
(2) The Court may, in its discretion, decline to grant a request for Judicial Review if it determines that the Court's intervention would violate the separation of powers inherent in the Constitution or would otherwise be detrimental to the Republic.
(c.) An Advisory Opinion is a request for guidance by the Court on a current legal controversy.
(1) The Court shall only entertain a request for an Advisory Opinion if the requesting person has a specific stake in the legal controversy -- simply being a concerned citizen is not a "specific" stake, but a citizen seeking clarification of the law before personally taking a proposed course of action does have such a specific stake. The Attorney General is always deemed to have the "specific stake" required by this subsection.
(2) The Court may, in its discretion, decline to issue an Advisory Opinion, so long as it provides a reasoned basis for its decision.
PART II: PRE-TRIAL MATTERS
Section 4. Case Applications
(a) The Court shall designate a place in the High Court that is viewable by all citizens in good standing where citizens may apply to initiate a case before the High Court. The Court may, by a publicly announced rule or procedure, require certain information to be included in an application.
(b) The Chief Justice or their designate shall expeditiously determine whether a case application will be granted or denied, and if granted, shall convene proceedings in the case.
(1) In any case where a charge is submitted outside of the appropriate time-frame identified in the Criminal Code: Section Statute of Limitations, the presiding Justice shall dismiss the case unless the prosecution can demonstrate that the charge could not have been reasonably submitted earlier and that allowing the case to proceed is in the public interest.
(c.) The Chief Justice or their designate shall deny any application that names two or more defendants in the same case, unless the defendants are accused of acting as co-conspirators.
(1) In lieu of denying an application, the Chief Justice or their designate may establish separate proceedings for each defendant named in the application.
(2) The Chief Justice or their designate, or any Justice later presiding over a trial, may in their discretion order separate trials for defendants charged jointly, even if the defendants are accused of acting as co-conspirators.
Section 5. Right to Counsel
(a) All parties have the right to be represented by counsel in all matters before the High Court.
(b) If requested by a defendant in a Criminal Case, or in case of a defendant tried in absentia, the presiding Justice shall appoint effective defense counsel.
Section 6. Entry of a Plea.
(a) At the commencement of a Criminal Case, the presiding Justice shall notify the defendant of the charges they face and shall invite them to plead guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendre.
(1) If the defendant pleads guilty, and the presiding Justice is satisfied that the defendant understands the implications of a guilty plea and has not acted out of coercion or ignorance, then the case shall proceed directly to sentencing.
(2) If the defendant pleads nolo contendre, and the presiding Justice is satisfied that the defendant understands the implications of such a plea and has not acted out of coercion or ignorance, then the Court shall accept the prosecution's statements of fact prior to such plea (whether in the trial thread, the case application thread, or elsewhere in the Court) as correct and will proceed to legal argument concerning whether the defendant is guilty of a crime on those facts.
(3) If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will proceed to trial.
(4) If the defendant declines to enter a plea, or is being tried in absentia, the presiding Justice shall enter a plea of not guilty on the defendant's behalf.
(b) Plea bargains are acceptable, but sentencing remains at the discretion of the presiding Justice. The presiding Justice shall ascertain whether the parties intend for a plea bargain to be contingent upon the Court's entry of the agreed-upon sentence, or whether the agreed-upon sentence is purely advisory.
(c.) The presiding Justice may order a defendant tried in absentia if the defendant fails to enter a plea within 72 hours and is not on a noticed leave of absence (or does not enter a plea within 72 hours following the end of such a noticed leave of absence).
(d) The presiding Justice may order a defendant on a noticed leave of absence to be tried in absentia if (1) the defendant will be absent for more than one week, and (2) delaying the defendant's trial until they returns from leave of absence is not in the interests of justice.
Section 7. Exchange of Evidence.
(a) Prior to trial, both parties (or their counsel) shall provide by private message to the presiding Justice and to the other party (or its counsel) all evidence that the party intends to present at trial, as well as a list of witnesses that the party intends to call at trial.
(b) A party shall not be compelled to present evidence or call a witness simply because it disclosed that evidence or listed that witness prior to trial in accordance with Section 7(a).
(c.) Listing a witness or providing a piece of evidence pursuant to Section 7(a) does not preclude another party from using that evidence or calling that witness.
(d) The presiding Justice may order that presentations of evidence at trial be redacted to exclude material that might intrude on the reasonable expectations of privacy of a RL person, violate the terms of service of the Republic's forum provider, violate RL laws, or be considered Secret or Top Secret pursuant to Europeian law. Subject to the foregoing, all evidence that forms any part of the basis of the Court's decision in a case shall be made publicly available.
Section 8. Preparation for Trial.
(a) The presiding Justice may convene a pre-trial conference to determine the scope of any factual or legal disputes between the parties so that the trial may be tailored to resolving the relevant disputes between the parties.
(b) If the presiding Justice determines there are no disputed material facts, they may order the parties to proceed directly to legal arguments in lieu of trial.
(c.) Following the presentation of evidence required by Section 7(a), but prior to trial, the defendant in a Criminal Case may move for dismissal of the case, and the presiding Justice shall grant that motion if they determine that even if all factual disputes and reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the prosecution, the defendant would not be guilty of any of the crimes with which they are charged or of any lesser included offense.
PART III. TRIAL AND JUDGMENT
Section 9. General Order of Trial.
(a) In general, a trial shall consist of the following stages, in order:
(1) opening statements -- first by the plaintiff or prosecution, then by the defendant or respondent
(2) presentation of plaintiff's or prosecution's evidence and witnesses
(3) presentation of defendant's or respondent's evidence and witnesses, if any
(4) closing statements -- first by the defendant or respondent, then by the plaintiff or prosecution.
(b) The presiding Justice may, in their discretion, eliminate phases from a trial in a question of Judicial Review that are not necessary to a proper resolution of the case.
(c.) The presiding Justice shall preside over the trial as they in their discretion determine is in the best interest of justice; provided, however, in no event shall a defendant in a Criminal Trial be denied the opportunity to (1) cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses, or (2) present relevant evidence.
(d) Following trial, or in cases where no trial is held (for example, because there are no disputed facts), the Court shall allow both parties to present legal arguments prior to the Court rendering its decision.
Section 10. Judgment.
(a) Following the conclusion of the trial and legal arguments, if applicable, the presiding Justice shall expeditiously prepare and deliver a written opinion stating, in reasonable detail, their resolution of all material questions of fact and law and articulating the Trial Court's judgment based on their resolution of those questions. In the case of an Advisory Opinion, the opinion and judgment shall be written by a Justice holding the majority opinion.
(b) In a Criminal Case, the presiding Justice may, but need not, provide the parties an opportunity to make arguments regarding sentencing following the delivery of a guilty judgment, but prior to concluding the portion of that judgment consisting of the defendant's sentence.
PART IV. APPEALS
Section 11. Timing and Judicial Discretion.
(a) The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal is discretionary, except in case of timely allegations of judicial misconduct by the Trial Court.
(b) Appeals generally must be posted in the Court within five days following the Trial Court's judgment (or if later, sentencing), but the Court of Appeal may in its discretion decide to entertain a belated appeal.
(c.) A majority of Justices of the Court of Appeal must vote to hear an appeal; otherwise, the Court of Appeal's discretionary jurisdiction is deemed not exercised.
Section 12. Conduct of Appeals.
(a) The Court of Appeal may, in its discretion, hear appeals in any manner it sees fit, so long as its procedures allow both parties a fair opportunity to be heard.
(b) All matters pertaining to the appeal shall be made immediately available to the public, except to the extent the Court of Appeal determines that considerations similar to those described in Section 7(d) require certain materials to be kept confidential.
Section 13. Standard of Review.
(a) Questions of Europeian law shall be reviewed de novo with no deference given to the holdings of the Trial Court.
(b) The Trial Court's exercise of discretion shall be afforded limited deference, and shall be upheld if the Appeals Court concludes that the Trial Court's exercise of discretion was reasonable.
(c.) With respect to all other matters, the Court of Appeal shall defer to the Trial Court except to the extent the Trial Court was clearly in error.
Section 14. Appellate Rulings and Their Effect.
(a) Following the close of legal arguments, the Court of Appeal shall expeditiously prepare and deliver a written opinion stating, in reasonable detail, its resolution of all material questions of fact and law and articulating the Court of Appeal's judgment based on its resolution of those questions.
(b) A majority of the Justices on the Court of Appeal must agree on each material aspect of a ruling; in the event of a tie vote among the Justices, the Court of Appeal shall be deemed to have affirmed the Trial Court's ruling with respect to that aspect of the Trial Court's ruling.
(c.) The Court of Appeal's judgment shall be final and unreviewable.
(d) The Court of Appeal's interpretation of Europeian law shall be binding on future Trial Courts, except to the extent (1) the relevant Europeian law has changed, because of legislation or otherwise; or (2) the interpretation is distinguishable based on factual differences between the two cases.
PART V. GENERAL MATTERS..
Section 15. Court Rules. The Court may, formally or informally, establish rules and procedures consistent with this Act and other applicable laws to govern its own proceedings; provided, however, such rules or procedures must be made publicly available to all citizens.
Section 16. Justices Pro Tempore. The Chief Justice may ask for a temporary Justice to be appointed for a specific trial. The temporary Justice must be nominated by the Chief of State, approved by the Chief Justice, and confirmed by an absolute majority of the Senate.
Section 17. The Chief Justice and Associate Justices may not be a member of, or significantly affiliated with, any political party, pressure group, or political union in Europeia during their tenure. This does not prohibit any endorsements of candidates for public office by Justices, regardless of the candidates' political affiliation.