Decisions of the SC meeting of December 8th, 2006

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Decisions of the SC meeting of December 8th, 2006

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Presences: Dianne Mechanique, Diderot Mirabeau, Flyingroc Chung, Gwyneth Llewelyn, Patroklus Murakami (as yet unconfirmed SC member)

Meeting started at 5:08 PM SLT.

Agenda:

  • [*:1jl0ujx6]Brief discussion of the status of the Judiciary.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6]
    [*:1jl0ujx6]Brief discussion of the reform of the SC.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6]
    [*:1jl0ujx6]Confirmation of Patroklus Murakami's invitation as a member (already with a vote of confidence by the Guild, pending approval by the RA) and presenting new members for further invitation.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6]
    [*:1jl0ujx6]Accepting Diderot Mirabeau's resignation.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6]
    [*:1jl0ujx6]Setting up the voting booth for the PJSP election.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6]
    [*:1jl0ujx6]Preparing the rules for the census of the population to set up the voting booth for the next RA election.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6]
    [*:1jl0ujx6]Reviewing, per request of Justice Soothsayer, the claims of the Chief Judge that the Code of Procedures cannot be lawfully suspended by the RA.[/*:m:1jl0ujx6][/list:o:1jl0ujx6]
    Due to time limitations on part of some of the members, it was decided to change the order of the agenda in order to deal with the easiest issues first.

    4) To sustain his resignation, Diderot provided two examples of cases that were left unjudged by the Scientific Council while it still had the power and the mandate to act as a judiciary, and that the negligence of these two cases would constitute a dereliction of duty, thus forcing Diderot to the moral decision of presenting his resignation.

    Gwyneth pointed out that both these cases had to be read in the light of the way our judiciary works. There are only private cases (ie. the CDS lacks the figure of an attorney-general that can introduce new cases on behalf of the state). In the case of the alleged harassment, Gwyneth proceeded to investigate the case by meeting with the accused, established the validity of the claims of the accuser, and reported back to him informally. He decided to drop the charges for now and kindly requested that this case was not to be brought to the public. With the removal of the complaint, there is no more case to judge.

    The second case was common griefing. As it is usual in these cases, most griefers are simply alts that log in for the purpose of griefing, disappearing the next day. Besides filing an abuse report (which usually has no effect, since the griefer tends to cancel the account), since there was no further way to notificate the griefer in question and question it, the case was [i:1jl0ujx6]de facto[/i:1jl0ujx6] closed after the ban.

    While further enquiries could have been done in either case — to validate or deny possible negligence in both cases — it was the considered opinion of the Dean, subject to review by her peers, that neither required further discussion. In any effect, the claim made by Diderot, as being the sole responsible for negligence in either, was deemed to be unfounded and ungrounded. Either the whole of the SC, as a body, is found negligent; or the Dean, acting as head of this body, is negligent; but in any case, it is very evident that Diderot cannot be held accountable for negligence. His resignation based on those two allegations is, thus, unfounded.

    The accusation of negligence allegedly was done by Ashcroft Burnham publicly on the forums, and these two cases were subsequently found indeed to be "pending resolution". Following the suggestion of Flyingroc and Dianne, the SC thus decided that, since there was willingness of Diderot to continue as a member, his resignation was not accepted and dismissed by the SC unless a formal accusation of negligence is pressed against the SC or any (or all) of its members.

    3) Gwyneth announced that she received a vote of confidence by the Guild on Patroklus Murakami's appointment to the SC, and that just a vote of confidence by the RA was pending. Gwyneth also proposed to invite Fernando Book as a future member of the SC on the ground of his evident talent and skill as a good defender of the Constitution publicly, as visible on the forums, as well as his impartiality, neutrality, non-affiliation with other groups and organisations, and no manifested public desire to fill any of the vacancies in the Government or State, thus ensuring no overlap with other functions.

    This nomination was accepted unanimously by the SC, and subsequently Fernando accepted the honour, which is now also subject to votes of confidence by both the Guild and the RA.

    6) Several issues were discussed under this point, namely, whether the RA gets expanded to 7 seats if the population is large enough on the day of election or on the cut-off date 28 days before.

    The major issue is one of deciding the number of seats based on the population count — which can be done arbitrarily at several different times. From a technical point of view, Flyingroc explained that, although the voting boot needs indeed a census (a list of citizens able to vote, ie. being citizens for at more than 28 days), and this list should be provided before the election starts, the exact number of seats can be introduced in the system at any time during the process — thus allowing, for instance, 50 citizens to actually vote for 7 seats (requiring 71 citizens), if the population grows during the period elapsing since the configuration of the voting booth and the closing of the voting period.

    Flyingroc, Diderot, and Dianne all agreed that, technically, neither of the above possibilities strictly violates the constitution and both are possible, if the RA legislates to that effect. The role of the SC is only to supervise the process. Gwyneth however pointed out that there is no legislation pending to be approved, and that a provision "by default" should be created to allow proper setup of the voting booth in the case that the RA fails to clarify the procedure by introducing adequate legislation.

    Gwyneth's reasoning drew upon "real life" legislatures, where the figure of a census exists, indeed, to establish the number of valid voting citizens (in real life democratic legislatures, adult citizens over a certain age that are of a sound mind), and calculate all functions of the State that are in proportion to the State's population (or adult citizens with the ability to vote) at the date the census was taken. It seems unreasonable, thus, to establish the number of seats of the RA at a different date than the one the census was taken. It also allows the factions to organise themselves in advance to fill their quota of seats. The argument that the CDS grows in population by rates much higher than most RL nations gives the RA the opportunity to revise this procedure.

    The census (list of valid citizens who are in the CDS for more than 28 days) is officially presented by the Estate Owner to the Scientific Council at the appropriate time for configuration of the voting booth. Unless the Representative Assembly introduces new legislation to the effect, at this very same day the number of seats at the RA shall be determined under Art I, Section 2 of the Constitution("[i:1jl0ujx6]The number of representative seats in the RA is equal to the odd whole number nearest to 10% of the population, rounded down, with a minimum of five seats and a maximum of forty seats[/i:1jl0ujx6]").

    All members of the SC agreed that the RA has the right to revise the above procedures under the Constitution as the RA sees fit.

    5) Although technically it was agreed by the RA that, as soon as the Judiciary Act was passed, a by-election for the Public Judiciary Scrutiny Panel should immediately be set up, a technical difficulty prevented this from happening: the Scientific Council was not presented with an official census of the citizens allowed to vote in time.

    This sad neglect caused the voting both not to be properly set up in time. Since the elections for the Representative Assembly are nearing, it was thus suggested to hold the PJSP elections at a time set under the strict interpretation of the new Judiciary Act: [i:1jl0ujx6]19. There shall be a Public Judicial Scrutiny Panel consisting of between three and five members, who shall be appointed by popular election at the same time as elections for the Representative Assembly are held [...][/i:1jl0ujx6], since the Judiciary Act does not mandate the exact time when a by-election of the PJSP should be set up.

    This resolution was agreed upon by Diderot, Flyingroc, and Gwyneth, with Dianne abstaining.

    A concern was raised by some citizens present in the meeting on how the vacancies set by the Chair of the Judiciary Comission would be filled as soon as further Judges were qualified to serve on the Common Jurisdiction. It was explained that the power to appoint Judges to serve is defined under [i:1jl0ujx6]19 (a) to determine who, of those persons whom the Board of the Judiciary Commission determines as qualified to hold office as Judge of Common Jurisdiction in accordance with Section 4(d) and (e) above, shall be appointed as Judges of Common Jurisdiction[/i:1jl0ujx6], and this power can be exercised by the Representative Assembly under [i:1jl0ujx6]20. When there are fewer than three members of the Public Judiciary Scrutiny Panel, and a vacancy for a Judge of Common Jurisdiction arises, the Representative Assembly may exercise, in lieu of the Public Judiciary Scrutiny Panel, the power set out under Section 19, paragraph (a) above.[/i:1jl0ujx6].

    Thus, the lack of a properly elected PJSP will not prevent further Judges to be appointed to serve in the Common Jurisdiction to fill the vacancies left, since the RA has the power to appoint them in lieu of the PJSP if the PJSP has less than three members.

    Point 7 having been withdrawn by Justice Soothsayer, the SC thus proceeded to discuss points 1 and 2. However, since point 1 was deemed to be more appropriate to discuss under a forthcoming commission (that was on the agenda for the next RA meeting), the SC focused instead on point 2, the definition of the role of the SC.

    Gwyneth argued that the role of the SC now requires a new level of professionalism to better adequate to the task of its new roles under the Judiciary Act, namely, to serve as the Court of the Scientific Council in the case of appeals done on constitutional basis, or to validate the constitutionality of laws through a strict and literal interpretation of the Constitution and the founding documents. Thus, a better option would be the creation of a "Constitutional Council" to replace the SC in these two roles. She has opened the discussion publicly in the forums and in in-world meetings, and found, after much debate, that this concept is only shared by a tiny minority of citizens (just one citizen supports it publicly besides her), thus decided to withdraw her suggestions.

    Dianne presented the argument that the current role of the SC under the Judiciary Act — besides the ones explicitly named in it — now is confused and vague, and proposed to mandate the RA to clarify the new role, or to validate its previous role. This was seconded by all SC members (Flyingroc did not explicitly voice neither agreement nor agreement to it, since he was absent during this moment). Diderot suggested further that the SC should ask the RA to put the definition of the role of the SC on the agenda of the RA in the next legislative term, a suggestion which was seconded by Gwyneth.

    Dianne proceeded further to ask the members of the SC what the SC should do until its role is clarified.

    It was also pointed out by Diderot that, since the [i:1jl0ujx6]scope[/i:1jl0ujx6] of the cases where the SC would actually intervene as a court of appeal were quite unlikely, the role of the SC within its interactions with the Judiciary would indeed be minimal.

    Furthermore, it was also discussed between Diderot, Dianne, and Gwyneth, that the role of the SC should be mostly re-active in the State — only exercising its powers in cases of strict need, ie., through active complaints of the citizens that their constitutional rights were violated, or mandated to provide clarification, or determining clear violations of certain aspects of the Constitution or the Founding Documents in Acts or other situations. Gwyneth argued that the SC has, indeed, for most of the past year, acted precisely in this way — keeping its interference to a bare minimum, and mostly only on request. Even appeals by the RA to suggest the (re)writing of certain laws were mostly left unanswered, thus ensuring that the SC does not have a political nature in establishing the rule of law in the CDS, but only one of defence and upholding of the Constitution.

    A clarification was also presented to explain the "passive" role in the legislative process. Under the current procedures (approved on the SC meeting of March 12, 2006), any law approved by the SC that does not get publicly flagged by the SC for review, will pass automatically after 48 hours (unless the SC is not "in session", ie. all its members are in vacation). This is construed to mean that all legislation passed by the RA goes into effect 48 hours after it having been approved, if the SC has not "flagged" it for review.

    The spirit of this procedure was to establish the SC in its role of being a validator of constitutionality, and not as a co-legislator or a "second chamber". Thus, since March 12, 2006 at least, the SC has effectively defined itself as having mostly a passive role.

    However, it has always been quite clear that the SC, under Article III, Section 4 ([i:1jl0ujx6]The SC may determine the rules of its proceedings[/i:1jl0ujx6]) of the Constitution, should be able to define its own procedures. This is a constitutional prerogative that is common to all branches of Government, and it pleased the legislators to apply it to the new branches as well.

    All the above points were considered to be more than adequate to define very well what the role of the SC currently is, and it was agreed that this role, while having been subject to several changes over the time, has not been put "on hold" or "temporarily suspended", unless new legislation is introduced by the RA to the effect.

    Thus, in conclusion,

    [b:1jl0ujx6]The Scientific Council will continue to fulfill its task of upholding and defending the constitution, under the rule of law, and interpreting it according to its established and future procedures, in accordance with its usual stringent ethos, unless this is changed by further legislation introduced by the Representative Assembly to clarify the Scientific Council's role and mandate in the Confederation of the Democratic Simulators[/b:1jl0ujx6].

    This point was unanimously approved by all members of the SC.

    As a closing remark, the job requirements for the open vacancy of the SC Archivist are to be posted.

"I'm not building a game. I'm building a new country."
  -- Philip "Linden" Rosedale, interview to Wired, 2004-05-08

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