Government of the Amarr Empire, part 2
Continued from part 1.
The Empire possesses two separate Empire-wide courts. They are typically referred to as Imperial Courts and consist of the Theology Council and the Civic Court. The Theology Council is by far the more powerful and prestigious of the two, as it deals with religious crimes, which hold a much wider scope in the Empire than is often realized. The Civic Court deals solely with secular matters, limiting both its influence and power.
In truth, the Civic Court tends to deal with commoners, misdemeanor crimes, and violations of local ordinances. There are also times when it may adjudicate other disputes when outside the scope of the Scriptures. However, due to the size and breadth of the Scriptures, these cases are highly eclectic and unusual.
The Theology Council deals with any crime that is proscribed by the Scriptures. This covers a wide range of potential crimes, everything from murder and heresy to shoplifting and adultery. The Theology Council also acts as an appeals court for both the Civic Court and the courts of Holders and the heirs.
As the Theology Council is generally considered to be the more conservative and harsher of the two Imperial courts, there can be much wrangling between prosecutors and counselors attempting to establish which court holds jurisdiction over a case.
Technically the elder of the two Imperial courts, the Civic Court arose out of the trial courts of the conquered Udorian states. When the Empire first conquered the Udorians during the Reclaiming, it did not possess a standard court for adjudicating legal disputes. Instead, it relied solely on the courts of the Holders to provide justice. However, the influx in population that accompanied the enslavement of the Udorians and the joining of the Khanid quickly overwhelmed the capabilities of Holders.
The Udorian states had long utilized an adversarial court system to hear criminal and civil cases. As the infrastructure was already in place, the Empire merely co-opted the system and adapted it to their own purposes. As the Holders were loathe to surrender their right to issue judgments, the Empire limited the jurisdiction of the Civic Court. Holders retained the right to hear any case they wished, no matter what it entailed. Should they not wish to hear a case, however, it was passed on to the Civic Court. Holders retained the right to overturn any Civic Court verdict, should it be appealed to them.
As time passed, certain types of cases were referred to the Civic Court more and more often. These cases were typically those in which the Scriptures were not clear-cut, along with cases considered too minor and inconsequential for a Holder to hear. In somewhat of a twist, it eventually became established in the Scriptures that the Civic Court would hear these types of cases.
By the time of the Moral Reforms, the Civic Court had gained even more power. The population of the Empire increased exponentially in comparison to the size of the Holder class, leaving the Holders even less capable of hearing all the cases brought before them. The Civic Court began to hear cases as large as murders and heresies.
As part of his initiation of the Moral Reforms, Emperor Heideran V created the Theology Council to examine the Scriptures under the guise of having them determine the legal powers of the emperor. In actuality, the Theology Council found pieces of the Scriptures that empowered the emperor, ignored those that limited his power, and created additional elements to give him more authority. However, the public powers of the Council, to decide on the legality of a situation, clashed with the rising strength of the Civic Court.
In an effort to limit potential backlash against him, the emperor decreed that the Civic Court had no authority over matters of the faith and Scriptures. As the Court had never been officially empowered to hear such claims, they had no recourse but to abide by the ruling.
With their jurisdiction degraded, the Civic Court rapidly began to lose favor and influence. Within a few decades the number of cases it saw sharply declined, with the Theology Council taking over much of its duties. Today, the Civic Court normally sees minor cases or those between commoners. It has recently regained some prestige thanks to the fact it sees a large number of cases involving contracts with foreigners.
The Civic Court has a limited jurisdiction within the Empire, dealing primarily without a religious component. As much of Imperial law is codified within the Scriptures, this means the vast majority of cases can easily be argued to be religious in nature. At times, there can be much wrangling over whether a case should be seen in front of the Civic Court or the Theology Council. The Civic Court also occasionally sees cases which would normally fall under the Theology Council's umbrella when the Council passes the case down to them; this typically occurs for cases involving minor bodily harm or loss of property between commoners.
The Civic Court sees both criminal and civil cases. Criminal cases are generally limited to what would be termed misdemeanors in other empires, though not all misdemeanors are seen by the Civic Court. The Civic Court mainly hears non-violent crimes that do not lead to loss or damage of property, such as owning an unlicensed weapon, violating a traffic ordinance, failure to acquire necessary permits, trespassing, and the like.
Civil cases are much more common in the Civic Court, as the Scriptures do not cover many interactions between commoners and foreigners. The majority of Scriptural doctrine on rights and rules cover the Holder class and other nobility, so when a noble is involved, the matter generally goes before the Theology Council. This leaves most other cases to the Civic Court. As many of the more powerful and wealthy merchants in the Empire are commoners, most high profile cases seen by the Civic Court involve them.
Cases which come before the Civic Court follow a case law procedure, where previous decisions by the Court are applied to the present matter to determine guilt, fault, and penalty. Proceedings are adversarial in nature, with secular lawyers referred to as barristers presenting the cases to a judge for decisions. The judge has absolute authority within the court and makes the final decision on all matters of the case. The Empire does not employ jury trials at any level.
In a case, each side presents their evidence and arguments to the judge, with the prosecution going first. Witnesses are brought before the court and are required to testify in both civil and criminal cases. Defendants in criminal trials are also required to testify; there is no legal protection against self-incrimination in the Empire. Witnesses are questioned by the barrister who called them, then cross-examined by the opposing barrister.
After evidence is presented and witnesses questioned, each side makes a final argument to the judge. The judge will then make a ruling and present a written explanation of his decision. The judge determines both guilt or fault and lays down a penalty. Judges are highly trained professionals, typically selected from barristers who have served for at least twenty years or more and have demonstrated exceptional knowledge of case law.
The Theology Council was first formed by Emperor Heideran V during the Moral Reforms. The first Council was composed of priests, scholars, and pious Holders who were loyal to the emperor and supported his claim to greater power. The public task of the Council was to clarify the legal powers of the emperor as laid out by the Scriptures. In actuality, they were rewriting the Scriptures to give the emperor additional powers, as well as finding pieces of the Scriptures that already supported their actions.
After the Moral Reforms, the Theology Council was kept around to act as adjudicator of Scriptural matters. As this seemed to conflict with the powers of the Civic Court, the emperor stripped the Civic Court of all Scriptural jurisdiction and handed them to the Theology Council. In order to perform these new duties, the Council needed to greatly expand. The vast majority of the Council's new justices and advocates were taken from the clergy, originally merely as a supplement to their regular duties.
Over time, the roles of the Theology Council became more specialized. The judges, which came to be known as justices, were specially trained priests with a broad knowledge of Scriptures. The lawyers, known as advocates, were laymen who were nonetheless trained in the intricacies of parts of the Scripture that related to the types of cases they would participate in.
Today, the Theology Council sees any major cases which are not decided on by the Holders, as well as any case between Holders which are passed on by the heirs.
The Theology Council has a very broad jurisdiction within the Empire. It deals with any crime which is considered religious in nature. This includes anything which involves loss or damage to property (as theft is explicitly forbidden by the Scriptures), bodily harm (violence is also proscribed except in certain cases), defying the edicts of the emperor, heirs, or Holders, egregious mistreatment of slaves, and a number of other crimes. In civil cases, it deals with any case involving a Holder, as the rights of Holders are well-laid in the Scriptures themselves.
Curiously, the Theology Council also hears any appeals against cases decided by the Civic Court. The rights and powers of the Civic Court have been codified in the Scriptures since the Moral Reforms, and appeals of its judgments are considered suits against the Civic Court itself, giving the Theology Council the right to hear them.
The Theology Council takes a combined inquisitorial and adversarial approach to trials. The trial is overseen by one or more justices, depending on the nature of the case. More serious crimes and suits are seen before additional justices. The court itself gathers all evidence in cases, including testimony from witnesses. A court-appointed inquisitor questions all witnesses. They are given free rein to ask any question they wish, though advocates for both sides may suggest questions to the inquisitor. The inquisitor is under no obligation to listen to the suggestions, however. Accused are required to answer to the inquisitor and are not afforded any protection against self-incrimination.
Once all the facts of a case have been presented to the presiding justice(s), an advocate for each side is allowed to present their interpretation of what Scripture says about the facts. The advocates typically quote pieces of Scripture to either justify or condemn the actions of the accused/defendant. Such presentations can take as long or longer than the presentation of facts, as the advocates treat the matter as a debate, responding to the points brought up by the other side in turn. The justices may also directly question the advocates or present their opinions on points brought up and allow the advocates an opportunity to explain or defend their positions. In cases where the facts paint clear fault or guilt to the defendant, the advocate for defense often simply attempts to argue for a light punishment.
After both advocates have finished, the justices retire to contemplate the facts and arguments. Once they have made a decision, they return and announce their decision, as well as any sentence or penalty.
In addition to its role as the supreme judiciary body of the Empire, the Theology Council also functions as the only body able to officially alter the Scriptures, either through the addition of new passages or the removal of obsolete ones. It mainly uses these powers mostly for clarifications of existing Scripture and the addition of new scientific discoveries, prophecies, lectures, historical records, patents, and other items of note to the appropriate book.
However, these powers also essentially give it broad-ranging powers of law-making, though in practice it rarely makes any laws on its own accord. This power is vital because it restricts the ability of an individual to upset the status quo of the empire too severely, regardless of their standing, while also allowing those of high position to wield extensive influence. In effect, it serves to allow emperors (and to a lesser extent the heirs and Holders) to make edicts and decrees that hold personal interest to them without forcing subsequent emperors to abide by them by dint of the Scriptures.
At times, however, the Theology Council may decide that one of these edicts should exist in perpetuity. In such a case, the Council will add the edict to the Scriptures, thus codifying it in Imperial law for all time. Or, at least, until a later emperor with sympathetic high justices works to undo it.
The Amarr government has several organizations that run the day-to-day operations of the Empire. These institutions are commonly known as the Imperial Ministries, though not all are called a ministry in their proper names. These organizations cover a broad array of functions, from trade and taxation to organizing the military. The Court Chamberlain is the official head over the Civil Service and the Trade Registry, while the Imperial Chancellor has oversight over the other ministries.
Amarr Civil Service
The Amarr Civil Service, also colloquially known as the Ministry of Civil Service, is the single largest employer within the Empire and is the main body of the Imperial bureaucracy. It handles many of the more mundane tasks for the Empire such as petitions to government offices, providing permits and licenses, managing the Imperial Archives, mediating between the various governmental bodies, ensuring the maintenance and upkeep of public utilities, and overseeing the infrastructure of planetary governments.
The Amarr Civil Service is made up of a number of departments, each of which specialize in a different area of governance. The Central Department, which is the largest, acts as the organizational body which regulates communications between the other departments. Other large departments include the Legal Department (which determines case jurisdiction and handles petitions to the emperor and Theology Council), the Public Works Department (which maintains utilities such as communications and computer networks), the Census Department (which collects data for the Book of Records), and the Planetary Governmental Department (which works with Holders and other planetary officials to run local governments).
Because of the sheer scope of the organization, the Amarr Civil Service is at times considered the most powerful secular body in the Empire. The head of the Civil Service can wield significant political influence, often comparable to the heirs themselves. The Civil Service employs a large number of commoners; few Holders or other nobility enter its ranks. This makes it one of the few ways a commoner can attain influence in the Empire.
Amarr Trade Registry
The Amarr Trade Registry, also colloquially known as the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, is the central financial overseer of the Imperial economy. The registry's main function is recording all financial transactions within Amarr space, all the way from entire businesses bought by the heirs to the smallest beverage purchased by commoners. The Registry recognizes that recording every single transaction is impossible, as some are done with physical currency, but as the vast majority are done electronically, a computer is capable of recording them. It works closely with the Secure Commerce Commission on this and other matters.
In additional to documenting purchases, the Registry also records bank transactions, creation and transfer of stocks and bonds, founding of businesses, and any other undertaking that involves the trade of money or goods or can fall under the broad umbrella of commerce. In this way, the Registry is intimately involved in the slave trade, which gives it tremendous sway in Imperial politics.
The Trade Registry is responsible for monitoring all trade, both domestic and foreign. It is the primary branch of government responsible for customs within the Empire. It works closely with the Ministry of Internal Order to combat smuggling, while it must often compete with the Ministry of War for proper funding of its police vessels. The Registry sets and collects all Imperial tariffs, while monitoring any tariffs set by the heirs and Holders and ensuring they comply with any Imperial mandates (such as ensuring that goods from the Caldari State are not taxed at a greater rate than similar products from the Gallente Federation).
As its final, but perhaps most important duty, the Amarr Trade Registry contains the Imperial Taxation Collection office. All Imperial taxes are collected by the Registry, while it also makes sure other taxes in the Empire adhere to Imperial law. At times, it will contract out tax collectors for the heirs or Holders to assist with proper collection and accounting, but most Holders wish to use their own staff for this purpose.
Ministry of Assessment
The Ministry of Assessment was formerly one of the most powerful governmental bodies in the Empire, but its importance has waned significantly over the past several decades. At one time, the Ministry of Assessment was the primary body responsible for charting unexplored systems, assaying the mineral wealth of asteroid belts, moons, and planets, and ensuring that those resources were exploited to the maximum degree.
While it still performs all these tasks to some degree, the cessation of exploration and expansion has relegated the Ministry to a mostly custodial nature. It continues to keep records on all surveyed celestial objects and the companies responsible for mining them, but it rarely comes across a new body to investigate. Because of this, Holders and other Amarr businessmen are no longer so vicious in currying the favor of the Ministry in an attempt to gain lucrative mining rights and contracts.
The Ministry still has the power to terminate a mining contract, but it does so fairly infrequently in order to avoid disruptive turnover. When it does announce that rights to a particularly lucrative body has become available, however, some of its old glory becomes evident for a short period as various companies enter into a frenzy to win the contract.
The Ministry itself remains fairly neutral and detached from Imperial politics. This has hindered the Ministry at times, but more often it has allowed it to operate without undue restraint. It is one of the more efficient parts of the Imperial bureaucracy because of that.
Ministry of Internal Order
The Ministry of Internal Order is the primary intelligence and police force of the Empire. Its duties include ensuring the safety and stability of the Empire, keeping track of all foreign elements within the Empire's borders, keeping tabs on and eliminating criminal and pirate activity, and preventing heresy. Unlike in other empires, where intelligence officials and “secret” police are kept in relative secrecy, the Ministry of Internal Order works mostly in the open. When necessary, its agents can go undercover, but Ministry officers tend to be readily identifiable and welcomed by the populace, despite the sometimes underhanded nature of their work.
The Ministry has an extensive network of informants across the Empire that assist it with its task of controlling and monitoring the population. In addition, regular citizens are encouraged to report suspicious activity directly to the Ministry. This keeps the Ministry relatively well-informed and it needs to rely on activities such as wire-taps and covert surveillance far less than groups such as the Black Eagles.
The Ministry works closely with the Amarr Trade Registry to combat smuggling and illegal immigration. While the customs fleet is under the full purview of the Trade Registry, Internal Order officials are almost always present at any cargo inspections or immigration checkpoints. The two ministries have a close working relationship because of this cooperation and often side with each other on political matters.
One of the most notorious branches of the Ministry of Internal Order is its Inquisition, called the Ministry's Ordinators. The Inquisition works hand-in-hand with the Theology Council to undercover heresy within the Empire. It most frequently targets Sani Sabik cults and other heretics, but it also handles tasks such as the suppression of forbidden documents, the destruction of blasphemous relics, and the repudiation of apostasy.
While the Ministry publicly only concerns itself with the internal affairs of the Empire, it is known to have an extensive spy network in place in all of the other factions of New Eden. The efficacy of these spies are debatable, with many considering the Empire's foreign intelligence network among the weakest in the cluster.
Ministry of War
The Ministry of War oversees all the various branches of the Amarr armed forces, such as the Imperial Navy, the Imperial Army, and the 24th Imperial Crusade. It additionally works closely with the house fleets of the five heir families, who are more properly security forces than military, though its power over them is limited without a decree from the emperor. Because of its great importance, the Ministry of War is one of the most politically powerful bodies in the Empire.
Traditionally, the Ministry of War has been staffed by civilians, with military officers in key leadership positions. Prior to the ascent of Empress Jamyl I, the Ministry itself was far more of a political and organizational body aimed at ensuring the armed forces were well funded and maintained. It did little to define actual strategy or deployment.
However, under Jamyl's rule, the Ministry of War has become far more of a military command. Many of the bureaucrats were ousted from the Ministry and replaced with high-ranking military officials. Today, the Ministry of War can be seen more along the lines of a central command, directing the actions of every branch of the military, keeping them organized and orderly, and making sure they all work toward the same goals.
Even with these changes, the Ministry continues to concern itself with constructing and maintaining the Amarr Navy and 24th Imperial Crusade's fleets, as well as equipping the other branches of the armed forces. The majority of its funding goes toward these ends, especially as the Empyrean War grows in scope.
The Ministry of War often chafes against the family fleets of the five heirs. Because the fleets do not coordinate with the Ministry, many politically unfavorable situations can arise. It also technically has no control over the Ammatar Fleet, though prior to the Ardishapur takeover it treated the Ammatar Fleet as a lesser branch of the Amarr Navy. Currently, the Ministry wields only minor influence over the direction of the Ammatar Fleet. It also coordinates closely with the Royal Khanid Navy and the Caldari Navy, typically on joint training exercises and patrols.
The final, and often most ill-understood, parts of the Empire's government are the two positions known as the Imperial Offices: the Court Chamberlain and the Imperial Chancellor. These two posts are appointed directly by the emperor, answer only to him, and have broad, wide-ranging powers. The two are often conflated with each other and throughout history both offices have held powers that overlap and regularly conflict. Currently, the Court Chamberlain is the weaker of the two offices.
The Court Chamberlain is a role traditionally held by the emperor's top advisor and confidant, earning it the reputation as the “emperor's right-hand”. Many functions are held by the Court Chamberlain, the most important of which is generally its role as Imperial Regent. The chamberlain speaks with the full authority of the emperor and, in the absence of the emperor, is considered to be of equal importance. A chamberlain's decrees and mandates can only be overruled by the emperor himself or the Speakers of Truth in extraordinary cases. The chamberlain has oversight over two sections of the Imperial Ministries: the Civil Service and the Trade Registry.
The Court Chamberlain thus functions, in many cases, as a surrogate for the emperor, essentially allowing the emperor (or his authority) to be in two places at one time. Many of the Empire's treaties and other political negotiations have been conducted utterly by the chamberlain with no involvement from the emperor himself. Similarly, other matters of state can be conducted by the chamberlain and his signature is as good as the emperor's.
In addition to acting as a secondary emperor, the Court Chamberlain also traditionally acts as the final filter for appeals before they are passed on to the emperor. Matters such as requests for pardons, Imperial judgments, and recommendations Cross of the Sacred Throne Order cross the desk of the Court Chamberlain before being passed to the emperor for final approval. Often times, the chamberlain makes the decision on such matters and the emperor will simply sign off on them.
Finally, the chamberlain is the de facto leader of the Empire in the absence of an emperor. Famously, Dochuta Karsoth acted as emperor for several years following the death of Doriam II, frequently rebuffing attempts to move the Succession Trials forward. During this time he essentially usurped the throne, becoming the emperor in everything but name. It is partly because of this that the post was so weakened following the coronation of Jamyl I.
The current chamberlain is seen as little more than a figurehead filling the post while being completely subservient to Jamyl I. While he still fulfills his duties, he has rarely had a chance to act on Jamyl's behalf, instead mostly acting in his function as an intermediary between the Empress and her subjects.
The Imperial Chancellor, currently Aritcio Kor-Azor, administrates the vast bureaucracy of the Empire by being the overseer of a majority of the Imperial Ministries (two others being under the aegis of the Court Chamberlain). The ministries in question report directly to the chancellor, who in turn reports to the Privy Council and emperor. The chancellor is technically answerable only to the emperor himself, but history has seen chancellors who act nearly autonomously from the emperor and others who are heavily swayed by the Privy Council.
The chancellor is the one who sets the budgets for the various ministries, appoints their leaders, signs off on upper-level promotions, and assigns their yearly goals. Through this, he typically has great influence over the entirety of the Empire, as each part of the Imperial bureaucracy strives to claim his favor.
In addition to his administrative duties, the chancellor is also the penultimate law enforcement official in the Empire, subservient only to the emperor himself. The emperor often sends the chancellor to lead suppression fleets during times of internal chaos, such as when the Refusards rejected Jamyl I's emancipation decree. He claims this right as the dual overseer of the Ministries of Internal Order and War.
The Privy Council is often referred to as the ruling body of the Amarr Empire, but this is not technically true. Instead, the Privy Council can be considered a meeting of the rulers of the Empire, but one which does not actually act with any inherent authority. Instead, all authority is derived from the positions the members of the Council already hold.
The Privy Council is made up of the emperor, the five heirs, the Khanid Family representative, the Imperial Chancellor, the Court Chamberlain, the High Deacon of the Theology Council, the heads of the five Ministries, and the Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy. When the emperor, Chamberlain, and heirs meet, the Council is considered to be holding a closed session. When everyone is present, it is considered a full session. Closed sessions are typically regarded more as informal meetings and discussions, while full sessions are the ones which deal with governance of the Empire.
Ultimately, the Council is in place to uphold the will of the emperor, but in practice it serves as a political arena where various sides jostle for position and rights. The Council is almost always split into various factions vying for their own way, which the emperor must carefully juggle in order to avoid angering any faction too much. It has often been joked that if the Council does not end with every side feeling it has lost, the emperor has done a poor job.