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10:11 am: The legal system, punishments, judgment, and "justice"


Date:October 14th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC)

[Example] Unicorn Orc Justice

The Unicorn Orcs are nomadic herdsmen living on the Unicorn Plains. Their ancestors were humans with an injection (of sorts) of wolf DNA (long story). Because of their lifestyle they don't have the resources to imprison miscreants, so they use various other methods instead. This comment is a look at Unicorn Orc justice.

1. What Are the Laws Like?

Aimed primarily at keeping the peace. Between individuals, families, clans, tribes, and nations. The basic philosophy is, unless you have cause. If you can show cause for your actions, then you have not committed a crime. If you don't have a valid cause, a good reason for what you did, then punishment is applied.

Yes, in Unicorn Orc law it is possible to show cause for theft. The victim constantly boasts about some possession and annoys the heck out of people about it, it is possible for one to steal that item and justify it by the victim's annoying boasting. Unicorn Orcs do boast, but they tend not to be obnoxious about it.

2. Who Deals With the Law

In most cases clan chiefs or their designated representatives will deal with the matter. In those cases where the matter involves people from different clans a neutral clan will be asked to adjudicate matters. Quite often matters between different families will be handled by the respective families as a private matter. Or the two families may ask a third, neutral family to mediate.

On rare occasion tribal or even national leaders may be called upon to handle matters. The Unicorn Orc confederacy's leadership is enlisted only in the most extreme cases.

By and large crime and punishment is handled in family, in clan, in tribe, or in nation.

3. How is Magic Used

To gather information. What happened? Who's responsible and how?

Testimony is given under an enchantment. This enchantment only allows making statements that are factually true. Anyone on either side of a dispute can ask questions of the witness, but usually a single interlocutioner will be assigned to the task. It is up to him as to which questions will be asked, and often crucial questions will not be asked because he, the interlocutor, didn't like them.

Outside of testifying information magic is used to gather evidence, or to evaluate such evidence as has been gained. Divination, necromancy, shamanism, mysticism are all used. Other types of magic have been used on occasion.

4. How Just is the Treatment Given Prisoners

Unless the crime is particularly heinous, and the perpetrator's family/clan etc. has disowned him, lenient. Even for murder. Even if the accused is convicted there is always the chance his family/clan etc. could petition for damages because of the prisoner's treatment. In some cases the prisoner may have all charges dismissed because of his treatment, and charges brought against his captors.

When the crime is particularly outrageous, and the prisoner's family has essentially turned their backs on him, the usual outcome is often, "Hacked to tiny little bits while trying to escape staked down spread eagled naked beneath the blazing noon day Sun." In such cases the finding is often, "Bet he won't do that again."

5. Who Has the Right to Inflict Punishment?

The victim's family for the most part. Unless the judge (whoever he may be) has knowledge the family intends to inflict an outrageous punishment. In which case the clan/tribe etc. will decide an what is going to happen. This decision taken during a meeting of the clan/tribe etc. council, or an equivalent body. The miscreant himself may suggest a punishment, which he will have to go through if it is accepted.

Date:October 14th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)

Re: [Example] Unicorn Orc Justice

(continued from above)

6. What Are the Punishments Like?

Restitution is popular. Usually returning the item stolen or paying its value if it is not returnable, plus an additional amount to make the thief think about stealing things again.

Bound service is also used. The criminal working for the victim or the victim's family for a period of time. In some cases the perp has been forced to wed the victim's widow to take her husband's place. More often than one would think this means a life of utter misery for the perpetrator.

Mutilation in any form is not used. That is an effective death sentence in Unicorn Orc society given their environment and their way of life.

Ostracizing is used, as is outlawing. Neither is permanent, and usually lasts but a season or a year. Outlawing means that one can deal with the outlaw as one wishes. Ostracizing means that one has nothing to do with the subject, unless on has authorization from family/clan etc. Most often authorization is given so that gifts of basic necessities may be given to the individual being punished. As an alternative one can drop an item of clothing or food near the convict, and declare that one is discarding the item. The convict then has the right to take that item for his own. Many ostracized convicts carry around a "discard bowl" for that purpose.

Death is only for specific purposes. Most of the time restitution, bound service, or outlawing is applied instead. It is customary to pay the convict's family some form of restitution for his death, in order to prevent vendettas and feuds.

Because of orc psychology exile is almost never used. An exiled orc tends to go into a deep depression and becomes suicidal. More often than not a suicidal orc is also a homicidal orc. On rare occasion exile may be used on a Unicorn Orc, but only when it is known that he has friends outside Unicorn Orc lands who are willing to adopt him as one of their own. Thus the rare Unicorn Orc has found himself becoming a member of a goblin, halfling, wolf-folk, human, elven, or even dwarven family and often starts to think of himself as such.

7. Could You Sum Up, Please?

Unicorn Orc law is meant to keep the peace between families etc. On occasion permission is given for a family feud or clan war to take place when justice is not possible for some reason. Tribal and national wars are possible, but have happened rarely in Unicorn Orc history. When conflicts occur between families etc. they are most often done surreptitiously. Skirmishes out on the plains or between hunting parties. Such as known as Shadow Feuds, and fatalities during such are very often reported as hunting accidents. It is due to these hunting accidents that lions, wolves, and even antelope have gained a fearsome reputation as archers, spearmen, and even swordsmen in Unicorn Orc folktales. When this sort of thing is starting to get out of hand, an animal of the type said to have done the deed will be captured, tried, and then punished if convicted. After which both sides in the Shadow Feud are strongly advised to chill lest they both find themselves the targets of an internal clan/tribal etc. vendetta.

And that is a look at how the Unicorn Orcs handle crime and punishment.
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