The Magimundi legal system is one based on fundamental concepts of fairness and equity, rather than on previous legal decisions or statutes.
These concepts of fairness are typically embodied in edicts handed down by the Council of Five—the Arch Justices of each of the five provinces. These edicts are then interpreted by each Arch Justice and the Justices that report to them.
Magimundi law favors the following values
Although each of the Provinces of the Magimundi have their own legal system, they all share certain features in common: they each have an Arch Justice who acts as a representative to the Magimundi Council of Five and also as a chief justice within the Province. A number of Justices report to the Arch Justice, and are tasked with resolving lesser disputes. Marshals are another common feature in all five provinces, law enforcement officers empowered by the Arch Justices to keep the peace in some fashion. The degree to which they are empowered and how they keep the peace varies from Province to Province.
The five Archjustices sit on the Council of Five, the body that collectively presides over the Magimundi and is tasked with resolving disputes between Provinces or disputes that involve multiple provinces.
The Council hears disputes and some appeals from Provincial disputes, but the primary way it regulates behavior and Jurisprudence in the Provinces is by issuing Edicts. Rather than tell a Provincial Justice or Archjustice that they decided a dispute incorrectly, they will simply issue an Edict that will control in future cases. Archjustices are supposed to (and usually do) re-hear relevant disputes in light of the new Edicts.
Edicts are proposed by an Archjustice and then one of two things happens: if the proposed edit receives a “second” it immediately goes to a voting period. If it does not, the remaining Archjustices may offer counter-proposals. This counter-proposal period ends when either the original proposal or any of the counter-proposals receives a “second” at which point voting begins. A number of proposed edicts stall in the proposal stage and never reach the voting period.
Voting period lasts from the time an Archjustice says “seconded” until either two additional “aye” votes are cast or two “nay” votes are cast from the Archjustices other than the proposing and seconding Archjustices. Typically this happens quickly, but again there are a few proposed edicts with one vote each that are pending
Withdrawing an Edict requires the same procedure: proposed withdrawal of an edict requiring a “second” and then two “aye” votes.
Council of Five has issued Edicts that Interdict or prohibit certain actions. Violation of these edicts are crimes worthy of punishment across all five provinces (note this does not apply to Virginia Isle)
If a Marshal suspects someone of violating one of these edicts, they will plead their case to a Justice and obtain a Writ of Authority to Detain. If a Marshal witnesses a violation of an edict, they may detain the suspect pending a writ. Everyone in the wizarding world is familiar with the phrase used by Marshals “You are hereby detained pending issuance of a writ of authority.” These writs are broad in their power, are retroactive, and even grant the Marshal the authority to use forbidden magics and violate edicts in pursuit of a suspect. Unsurprisingly, they are frequently abused. However, if a Marshal uses forbidden magic and is subsequently denied a writ of authority they can in theory expose themselves to detention. Of course someone would need to take the case and few Marshals are interested in prosecuting their compatriots. However, in Provinces where individuals may act in the place of a Marshal there have been a few successful prosecutions for violation of edicts by Marshals in the course of their duties.
(see: Magimundi Court of Law)
Across the Magimundi, the particular procedure may vary from Province to Province (or even from Justice to Justice), making it difficult to give a detailed description of what one is to expect in a Magimundi court of law. However, one can expect to find that there are a number of similarities to be found.
A typical trial in the Magimundi is adversarial meaning two parties are each trying to convince the presiding Justice that their view and interpretation of the facts and edicts are correct. The Magimundi doesn’t differentiate between civil and criminal law the way mundane society does. The only difference is who the parties are. If the party initiating the trial is a Marshal or a Justice, then it’s essentially a criminal case. Sometimes (but not always) a party may be represented by an Advocate or Counselor. An Advocate appears in place of the person at trial and makes arguments on their behalf. A Counselor can’t argue on someone’s behalf but can give them advice in how to argue their case. Counselors are generally less expensive and may even be provided by the Magimundi in many cases.
There are two types of parties one can expect in the case, the Claimaint (person or persons who have a claim they intend to prove to the Justice), and the Accused (person who is being accused of violating an edict). These correspond to the mundane ideas of a plaintiff/prosecutor and defendant.
Both sides in the court proceedings are given opportunity to state their case, and depending on the trial this may be anywhere from five minutes to many weeks. A typical criminal trial is a week-long affair, where the Claimant has two days to present evidence and argument. After this period, the Accused gets to make their case for why they did not violate an edict.
Once both parties have pleaded their cases, the Justice (or panel of Justices) will issue a decision. Typically once a decision is handed down it is final. Very rarely (typically in response to public outcry or another Justice, or Arch Justice, taking a particular interest in a case) an appeal will be granted.
Avernus is the hugely successful prison of the Magimundi, boasting not a single escape since it's founding. Prior to the end of the Magma Wars in 1830, Magimundi criminals were held in regional facilities in the Provinces, with no consistency of standards. But at the conclusion of the conflict at the Yellowstone Caldera, a young Marshal named Jack Hudson discovered a cave system protected by poisonous fumes and a host of Chupacabra who were taking refuge from the fighting. Through means he declined to explain, Hudson explored the cave system and located an underground lake over a magma vent that was the cause of the poisonous air. Hudson expanded the cave system into an underground prison complex he named Avernus where Magimundi prisoners would be guarded by Chupacabra. Regional jails and prisons were emptied, prisoners were escorted into Avernus, and Jack Hudson was paid a considerable sum of Leeuwendaalders by each Province and Virginia Isle.
Every Province, and Virginia Isle, have their own laws that govern the manner in which citizens conduct themselves and that their leadership operates. It is common for a Marshal, Advocate, or Counselor to specialize in the law of a particular Province, as Provincial Law can very greatly. Below is a brief summary of the differences between the Provinces.
(see: Baja Province Law)
The Province of Baja relies on empowering Wizards to pursue their own reasonable justice, with the Marshals able to assist when needed. This results in a bit of a chaotic approach to jurisprudence, leading to the recent rise of private “security” firms to address the needs of the wealthier residents of the Province.
This flawed system is loosely held in place by the actions of two activist organizations:
Most wizards who end up in Avernus from Baja do so because of the intervention of a private security firm into a case.
wizards are empowered to pursue their own reasonable justice, and may call on the Marshals to assist/enforce where they are unable
(see: Destiny Province Law)
The Destiny Province jurisprudential system was the largely adopted by the Magimundi as a whole, where the Arch Justice writes edicts detailing what is expected in the Province. In 1610, following the establishment of the Destiny and Solaris provinces, Arch Justice Herodotus Forsythe issued seven Edicts intended to establish the behaviors of Destiny Wizards. The original Edicts of Destiny each propose a virtue:
Of the Seven only Justice and Temperance could potentially result in Detention in Avernus. Violations of the edict of Prudence might result in the equivalent of a “civil suit” for damages.
(see: Solaris Province Law)
Solaris Province also adopted the issuance of Edicts to regulate the behavior and conduct of Wizards in the province. Unlike Destiny, the Arch Justice of Solaris has changed many times over the centuries, and so have the nature and style of the Edicts. Most recently, under Arch Justice Snodgrass, the Edicts issued were broad and empowered the Solaris Marshals to detain absent a writ. The Edicts issued by Snodgrass are:
(see: Mishipeshu Province Law)
The Arch Justices of Mishipeshu have been evolving their jurisprudential system for hundreds of years, attempting to make it as “modern” and “equitable” as possible. This has resulted in a somewhat more complex set of codes, rules, and precedent that frequently result in predictable, sensible outcomes, but occasionally clash, requiring the Arch Justice to rely on (you guessed it) edicts to clarify how to navigate the morass of sometimes-conflicting legal theory and practice.
Unlike the other provinces, Mishipeshu does rely on a jury system for criminal cases, and also guarantees an accused’s right to legal counsel.
However, in recent years, due to the complexity of the Mishipeshu legal system, many Justices and Marshals have begun prosecuting cases not with an eye on winning a trial, but rather with a desire to reach a “plea in mitigation” more colloquially referred to as a “plea bargain.” To accomplish this, a Marshal will accuse a suspect of an extremely heinous crime (particularly one that might result in extensive time in Avernus) then through coercion and uncertainty, convinces the defense attorney and suspect to accept a guilty plea on a much less severe crime. The Marshal then submits this “plea in mitigation” to the Justice who typically rubber-stamps the agreement with little oversight. Meanwhile the few public defense attorneys in the Province are so overworked that they are complicit in this relationship, as there’s no way they could conceivably defend all the cases they are responsible for.
Mishipeshu is also the province with the closest ties to Avernus, and over time they have changed the most from sending only the worst of the worst to potentially sending anyone to Avernus for various lengths of time. This is exacerbated by the existence of “plea in mitigation” deals since someone is less likely to think they are being unfairly sentenced to five years in Avernus for aggravated assault when the Marshals were threatening you with life for murder. Consequently, Mishipeshu is the Province with the most people in Avernus at any one time, although many of them will only be there for a short time.
Lastly, Mishipeshu does not officially differentiate between crimes against Wizards and Mundanes, although crimes against mundanes will typically result in somewhat lighter sentences.
(see: Thunderbird Province Law)
Thunderbird Province takes a different perspective to criminal justice, relying on a community-based approach. A single wizard is likely part of many communities. Perhaps they live in a metropolitan area, practice their craft with a school or coven, and work at a business or as part of a trade organization. Each of these communities is responsible for the conduct of its members, and as such, has the authority to appoint a Marshal from within its ranks. The Marshal is tasked with protecting the interests of the community members, both ensuring that none of them break the laws of the Province and Magimundi, and also ensuring that none of the community members become victimized as well. If a resident of Thunderbird Province is victimized by a crime, they may choose to go to a Marshal in a community to which they belong for assistance.
(see: Virginia Isle Law)
Virginia Dare envisioned Virginia Isle as a bastion of freedom, and she enshrined that notion into the Isle itself. When she first permitted people to own and lease property on her Island, she sealed the principles built into the Island into those agreements, with the penalty of Rescission, Eviction, Exile, or Defenestration. In recent years, leases have added the potential penalty of Detention in Avernus.
Other than the restrictions placed into leases, deeds, and other contracts, there are no laws on Virginia Isle. Of course the covenants Virginia Dare placed in the Island and on the first deeds must be carried forth in each sub-agreement:
The original Deeds were to be adjudicated by the Town Council and depending on the severity of the offence, the deedholder would either have their deed revoked, or would be exiled from the Isle, typically by defenestration.