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Author Topic: Court Tracker: Honors in the Hizhouse!  (Read 3207 times)
Purple State
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« on: April 17, 2009, 12:07:47 am »
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A lot is going on regarding trials and court cases in Atlasia recently, so this will be a sort of reporting and editorial function on the goings on in the court for the Atlasia citizenry to read a quick, layman's overview and have the chance to comment.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2009, 03:47:18 pm by Mideast Assembly Speaker Purple State »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 12:08:12 am »
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First up,

Atlasia v. Southeast
Attorney General Marokai Blue, in his first test as President Bgwah's newest Cabinet pick, is gearing up for a brawl with what many would call Atlasia's "problem child" region, the Dirty South. Through an emergency initiative vote, the DS passed the Freedom of Currency Amendment by a vote of 4-1 and subsequently signed by Governor Duke.

Debate has already begun in the case, found here, with the AG arguing that the Atlasian Constitution very clearly prohibits the issuance and recognition of alternative legal tenders to the Atlasian Dollar.

SPC, at-large Senator (RPP) and resident of the Mideast, argues as the defense. SPC asserts that the amendment does not recognize the DS "dixies," as the new currency is named, as legal tender, which would be unconstitutional. Nor will the region issue the dixies, also constitutionally prohibited, but rather it shall have the option to circulate them, according to the wording of the amendment. Essentially, the gold-backed dixies would simply be legal tender, er, pieces of paper that DS residents may choose to use as currency, that will be issued, er, circulated by the DS government.

As an aside, little has been made of the amendment's requirement that Atlasian dollars be removed from circulation in the DS. With no dollars around, residents will be forced to either use dixies or revert to the ineffectual barter system. Not to mention the effort will discourage interstate exchange of goods and services. Not only does this line of legislation render the last clause of the FofC, which states that the circulation of dixies will be optional, almost irrelevant, but it actually harms the region's economy in an attempt to assert regional rights and autonomy. I have no problem with strengthening the regions, but there are surely better ways to go about it.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 12:10:42 am by Mideast Assembly Speaker Purple State »Logged

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Purple State
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 12:32:46 am »
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Atlasia v. Benconstine
In an unsurprising turn of events, the Voting Whilst Banned Act, prohibiting the attempted voting in Atlasia by citizens serving a sentence that includes banning from voting, has bitten a member in the ass.

Benconstine, the defendant in the case, was officially banned from voting by the Atlasian Supreme Court on January 16, 2009, and was sentenced to a 13 week (91 day) ban from voting in elections as of January 19, 2009. Here comes the confusing part. Ben did indeed cast a ballot for the April Senate elections on Wednesday April 15, 2009, on the 87th day of his sentence, as can be found here. The vote was cast in the official absentee ballot booth. The question arises does this count as an official vote upon its announcement? Or is it only counted as an official vote upon the addition of absentee ballots to the official tally?

More troubling, however, is the Act itself. In the original debate of the Voting Whilst Banned Act, it was cautioned by this poster here that the legislation failed to take into account negligent mistakes and the likelihood that some citizens would be caught in a trap due to long sentences and confusing start and end dates. In fact, had ben's sentence begun on the day he was actually sentenced, his voting ban would expire in time for him to vote in the current elections. The warning was seconded by Senator Smid, but the thought was largely ignored and the legislation was passed without any discussion of this potential entrapment issue. It is clear that this is exactly what happened with Benconstine, a scenario in which he believed his sentence had expired, as is evident here.

I call upon the Attorney General to call off the case against benconstine and use this as a platform to reveal the flaws in the law and call for a change. No one is above the law, but the AG must show discretion in his use of the statutes at his disposal.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 12:35:47 am by Mideast Assembly Speaker Purple State »Logged

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Marokai Besieged
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 12:37:48 am »
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I'm not happy with the situation that led to the prosecution of Ben, and if it were up to me, I would indeed just amend the law and pretend nothing ever happened, but a law was violated. We can't go off and start allowing people to get away with little violations here and there because they're not serious.

Whether or not the situation around the charges against Ben were confusing or not, Spade made very clear when the punishment was to start in his ruling. Ben can count, and he should have known better. The fact that he didn't count properly doesn't change the fact that the law was broken and charges are totally valid.

I seek a light sentence and hopefully a review of the law in question, but he still broke the law.
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Franzl
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2009, 12:41:14 am »
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I agree with the Attorney General that the law must be followed, regardless of whether the questionable act was intentional or not.

That said, I don't believe Ben meant to violate his ban illegally...and I have urged the AG....and I will do so again....to seek a light punishment under these circumstances.
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Purple State
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2009, 12:45:03 am »
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I do think the AG does have the discretion to drop cases he views as wrongful. If it oversteps a boundary then it is up to the President to judge if it was an acceptable course of action. However, the AG's role is not simply to file cases. It is to use his power to determine what is and is not harmful to the Atlasian community and what should or should not be punished.
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2009, 12:49:37 am »
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I do think the AG does have the discretion to drop cases he views as wrongful. If it oversteps a boundary then it is up to the President to judge if it was an acceptable course of action. However, the AG's role is not simply to file cases. It is to use his power to determine what is and is not harmful to the Atlasian community and what should or should not be punished.

I agree in general that the AG needs to use discretion while prosecuting to protect the rights of the defendant and to make sure that he is prosecuted according to the law.

Indeed, I agree that the AG has total discretion as to whether any charges are brought...certainly, but I would urge the AG, except in extremely exceptional circumstances, to follow the law as passed by the Atlasian Senate. Having the AG decide himself what is and what is not a good law would be a terrible precedent, in my opinion, especially in circumstances such as these where the guilt is clearly evident.

Once again, I do not believe that Ben acted intentionally...and I'm the first to propose that he receive a very light sentence. The law that was broke does not include a minimum sentence...and that's where I think the AG...and the court...should use their discretion.
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Marokai Besieged
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2009, 12:52:28 am »
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Precisely, Senator, our discretion lies not within whether law should be prosecuted but the extent of the prosecution and punishment.

I would also like to point out to Purple State that Ben has acknowledged his guilt to me in private messaging.
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Purple State
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2009, 01:02:49 am »
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Precisely, Senator, our discretion lies not within whether law should be prosecuted but the extent of the prosecution and punishment.

I would also like to point out to Purple State that Ben has acknowledged his guilt to me in private messaging.

His guilt is not as much in question (although the whole absentee thing is iffy to me as well), as the law itself. To be certain, the AG should not make a habit of using his position to decide what laws are worth following and which ones are not, but I do think there is room for pushing Senate action when a law is so blatantly inappropriate. I would hope some sort of preemptive presidential pardon would suffice here, but that doesn't mean the AG shouldn't, when the circumstances are right, act as a filter for these kinds of charges.

I understand your point and know where you're coming from, but my overall analysis is that the action is a waste of time under a law, a law the Senate passed without fully considering the shortcomings of their actions.
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2009, 01:25:38 am »
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As I mentioned to Ben this morning, I think there is a question of when a ballot becomes a vote. He certainly cast a ballot in the absentee booth, however if his ban expires before ballots are counted, the question remains as to whether he has actually voted before or after the ban is lifted, since the ballots have not yet been counted.
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Franzl
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2009, 01:27:04 am »
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As I mentioned to Ben this morning, I think there is a question of when a ballot becomes a vote. He certainly cast a ballot in the absentee booth, however if his ban expires before ballots are counted, the question remains as to whether he has actually voted before or after the ban is lifted, since the ballots have not yet been counted.

That's actually a valid argument. This has the potential to become an interesting case.

edit: although...personally, I think the time at which the ballot was cast is the deciding factor:
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It shall be a crime for any person to vote or attempt to vote in an Atlasian election whilst banned from doing so after being convicted in the Supreme Court and then sentenced to a ban from voting.

The language in that legislation leads me to that assumption, especially the part about attempting to vote, as that is clearly before the counting of the vote occurs.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 01:29:00 am by Senator Franzl »Logged
Marokai Besieged
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2009, 01:28:02 am »
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As I mentioned to Ben this morning, I think there is a question of when a ballot becomes a vote. He certainly cast a ballot in the absentee booth, however if his ban expires before ballots are counted, the question remains as to whether he has actually voted before or after the ban is lifted, since the ballots have not yet been counted.

It was a vote, the act or even attempt of voting whilst banned from doing so is illegal, it doesn't matter whether it was an absentee vote or not, it's practically the same thing in Atlasia.
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IDS Judicial Overlord PiT
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2009, 02:15:40 am »
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     Based on the matter of when activity requirements are considered, I suspect the relevant question is whether or not his ban had expired at the time of the opening of the regular election booth.
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Purple State
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2009, 11:40:46 am »
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     Based on the matter of when activity requirements are considered, I suspect the relevant question is whether or not his ban had expired at the time of the opening of the regular election booth.

It won't expire until after the election is completely over.
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benconstine
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2009, 02:48:20 pm »
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I thought my ban had ended, which is why I re-registered before voting; I wasn't sure if I was still on the voting rolls.  I hope the Court will take that into account, and sentence me very, very lightly.  I intend to plead guilty as soon as the Court asks.
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2009, 09:43:52 pm »
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As an aside, little has been made of the amendment's requirement that Atlasian dollars be removed from circulation in the DS. With no dollars around, residents will be forced to either use dixies or revert to the ineffectual barter system. Not to mention the effort will discourage interstate exchange of goods and services. Not only does this line of legislation render the last clause of the FofC, which states that the circulation of dixies will be optional, almost irrelevant, but it actually harms the region's economy in an attempt to assert regional rights and autonomy. I have no problem with strengthening the regions, but there are surely better ways to go about it.

It is optional since people are free to issue private currency. To the contrary, our region will avoid economic harm by not being plagued by the effects of inflation.
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2009, 05:00:44 am »
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It is optional since people are free to issue private currency. To the contrary, our region will avoid economic harm by not being plagued by the effects of inflation.
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Purple State
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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2009, 02:45:25 pm »
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Court Decides Cases With Little Comment

The Supreme Court of Atlasia ruled on two controversial cases this weekend; however, the court seemed to skirt around the real issues at hand, providing little comment beyond the main conclusions.

Atlasia v. Benconstine, the controversial case involving the Voting Whilst Banned Act, was resolved as the defendant, clearly in violation of the law as written, pleaded guilty. AG Marokai Blue affirmed the state's belief that Ben did not meaningfully attempt to violate the law and stated that he would "simply seek a light sentence." In sentencing, Justice Bullmoose88 accepted the recommendations of the AG and extended Ben's current ban on voting by three weeks. A clause was also included that would disallow Ben from voting in the event that the sentence expired during an ongoing election.

While the Court remained silent on the controversy surrounding the current wording in the Voting Whilst Banned Act, this is because there is no constitutional question surrounding the legitimacy of the law itself. However, there is no such excuse for the next case.

In Atlasia v. Southeast, the Court ruled that sections 1(b) and 1(c) of the Freedom of Currency Amendment, recently passed in the Dirty South, were "invalid under Article I, Section 7 , Clause 2 of the Constitution," in which it is stated that no region may issue legal tender other than Atlasian Dollars. The Court also ruled that section 1(a), which would remove Atlasian Dollars from circulation, was constitutional as part of the region's police power, although removing the only form of currency in the region would likely not be a wise economic policy.

What the Court did not address is Article I, Section 5, Clause 8 of the Constitution, which empowers the Senate with the sole ability to establish currency for circulation in Atlasia. AG Marokai had requested that the Court comment on ability of the regions to "recognize any currency other than that which is established by the Senate," stating that such a clarification is "without a doubt, non-existent." Nevertheless, Justice Spade, in the majority decision, declined to "address any arguments or statements concerning the application or effect of Article I, Section 5, Clause 8." This is an unfortunate move by the Court, as it leaves open the possibility of future abuses involving the unconstitutional distribution of currency by regions.

One thing to watch, there is currently a Repeal of the Freedom of Currency Amendment initiative before the Dirty South. Without the approval of this initiative the region will be left without a currency and could fall into economic disaster. I urge all Southeast residents to support the repeal and ensure the continuity of the region.
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« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2009, 02:51:24 pm »
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From my reading of the court decision, Justice Spade seems to be saying that the Senate can pass a law forbidding the Southeast from withdrawing Atlasian dollars from circulation. So, if the repeal fails in the Southeast, the Senate will no doubt quickly act to ensure that the region does not fall into economic chaos.
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Purple State
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« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2009, 02:52:44 pm »
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From my reading of the court decision, Justice Spade seems to be saying that the Senate can pass a law forbidding the Southeast from withdrawing Atlasian dollars from circulation. So, if the repeal fails in the Southeast, the Senate will no doubt quickly act to ensure that the region does not fall into economic chaos.

I would hope so. But I would hope the SE wouldn't put itself in that kind of position anyway.
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« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2009, 04:06:04 pm »
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Dirty South Getting Down and Dirty

With Sunday's ruling in Atlasia v. Southeast, it seemed all but certain that the Freedom of Currency Amendment, passed in the SE region, would die a quiet death. Alas, it is not to be. Despite the impending success of the initiative repealing FofC, it seems that Senator SouthParkConservative, head of the Atlasian Security Services and staunch defender of the amendment, has moved forward with implementation of the stricken sections of FofC.

In a brief statement just after the Court's ruling, SPC declared that, because the Court failed to strike down section 1(a) of the amendment, stipulating that Atlasian Dollars would be removed from circulation in the SE, "we will continue to issue gold-backed dixies in the region" in order to "fill this void." SPC goes on to acknowledge that this would be done "without the Dirty Southern government's support," a point of contention in his defense of FofC before the Court.

However, Justice Spade made clear in his decision earlier in the day that "if, as counsel [SPC] asserts, Atlasian Security Services issues this currency pursuant to the Freedom of Currency Amendment, it will do so with the imprimatur of the regional government." This is a statement directed exactly at what SPC seems to be doing in his unilateral announcement today. It will be interesting to see how AG Marokai Blue handles this first real challenge of his and the Court's authority. The "Repair our Wiki" project may not be the biggest problem the new AG will face in the coming months in office.
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« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2009, 05:06:46 pm »
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If the Amendment is repealed in the voting booth (as seems to be the case after the ruling), I'm not sure there's much I can do about it, honestly.
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Purple State
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« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2009, 05:12:54 pm »
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If the Amendment is repealed in the voting booth (as seems to be the case after the ruling), I'm not sure there's much I can do about it, honestly.

These actions were clearly disallowed by the Court. What authority does the Atlasian Security Services have to issue currency in the SE?
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« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2009, 05:22:44 pm »
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If the Amendment is repealed in the voting booth (as seems to be the case after the ruling), I'm not sure there's much I can do about it, honestly.

These actions were clearly disallowed by the Court. What authority does the Atlasian Security Services have to issue currency in the SE?

It's not official currency, and I'm not claiming it's official currency. I am doing this without any support from the government of the SE and I am circulating it myself, without any SE involvement. The Constitution does not prohibit individuals from issuing currency, just regions.
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Purple State
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« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2009, 05:31:46 pm »
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If the Amendment is repealed in the voting booth (as seems to be the case after the ruling), I'm not sure there's much I can do about it, honestly.

These actions were clearly disallowed by the Court. What authority does the Atlasian Security Services have to issue currency in the SE?

It's not official currency, and I'm not claiming it's official currency. I am doing this without any support from the government of the SE and I am circulating it myself, without any SE involvement. The Constitution does not prohibit individuals from issuing currency, just regions.

The Senate has the sole power "To establish coin and currency, which shall be the sole legal tender of the Republic of Atlasia, regulate the value thereof, with respect to other coin and currency."
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