Judicial Act

Judicial Act

An act to establish operational principle, procedures, and best practices for the High Court

1. The High Court

(1) The High Court comprises a Chief Justice and at least two Associate Justices.

(2) The Chief Justice operates the High Court. In case of vacancy, absence, or recusal, the Associate Justices shall collectively operate the High Court.

(3) The Chief Justice may order the recusal of any associate justice on a specific issue. The Associate Justices may collectively force the recusal of the Chief Justice on a specific issue.

(4) In case of a vacancy, a willing and eligible Associate Justice will be selected by their peers to serve as Chief Justice.

(5) To appoint an Associate Justice, the Cabinet will consult with the High Court and present a willing and eligible individual to the Assembly for an approval vote.

(6) The Cabinet is compelled to appoint a fitting individual as per above with all deliberate speed if
a. there are less than two Associate Justices on the High Court,
b. the Chief Justice position is vacant and the Associate Justices cannot determine a new Chief Justice amongst themselves for any reason, or
c. a case cannot continue due to recusals.

2. Judicial Conduct and Requirements

(1) Justices of the High Court shall
a. rule upon what is written in law, and not be influenced by prejudice based on personal bias, corruption by undue influence, or discord;
b. consider the impact of Court rulings carefully to ensure that, whenever possible, no individual is empowered to exploit rulings of the Court;
c. maintain good communication with fellow Justices as well as the broader community; and
d. be reasonably inquisitorial.

(2) An Associate Justice must have legislator status in the South Pacific and take an oath of confidentiality and impartiality.

(3) The Chief Justice must fulfill the requirements to be an Associate Justice, and additionally may not serve as senior or junior Cabinet minister, as Chair of Assembly or their deputy, or as Delegate.

3. Case Procedure

(1) A case is submitted to the High Court via a public post in the High Court area by any individual authorized to submit a case of the given type. A case can be a legal question, an appeal, an indictment, or a sentencing.

(2) The High Court will determine with reasonable speed whether a case is justiciable. If found justiciable, a justice will be assigned to the case, otherwise the case is unappealably dismissed.
a. Provided there is unanimous agreement, the High Court may unappealably dismiss an otherwise-justiciable case it considers to be frivolous.

(3) Any member of the South Pacific may request the recusal of the assigned justice at any time, which will be reviewed by the High Court. If granted, the High Court will assign another justice.

(4) Any member of the South Pacific may submit information, evidence, or opinions on the matter. To facilitate this, a case may not run for less than 72 hours.

(5) The assigned justice may, as necessary, request information, evidence, or opinions from any member or institution. With the approval of another justice, a member or institution may be compelled to answer such a request.

(6) Once the assigned justice has all necessary information and evidence, they will analyze the question with all deliberate speed to deliver an opinion. Any individuals involved in the crafting of the opinion must be named within it. The opinion must be approved by another justice not recused from the case.

4. Legal Questions

(1) A legal question is a case containing one or more questions seeking to receive clarification on the meaning of existing law or the applicability of law to concrete or hypothetical situations.

(2) Legal questions can be submitted by any member of the South Pacific.

(3) The opinion delivered for a legal question shall have the full force of law until appealed or the law upon which the opinion was based is significantly changed.

5. Criminal Cases

(1) As part of a case, the justice may indict an individual if there is probable cause that this individual has committed a criminal act. If the criminal act is not substantially related to the case, the assigned justice is encouraged to start a separate case for the indictment.

(2) Upon indictment, the individual will be contacted through at least one reasonable means and given at least one week to defend themselves before an opinion may be delivered.

(3) The assigned justice will deliver with the opinion a verdict for each indictment contained within the case. The verdict shall be guilty if and only if the accused admitted guilt or the justice has determined it to be substantially more likely than not that the criminal act occurred.

6. Sentencing

(1) A sentencing case is started when an individual has been found guilty after being indicted. The case is started, if possible, by the justice that delivered the conviction.

(2) The sentencing case shall be on hold if an appeal for the conviction has been filed, for the duration of that appeal. If the original conviction is overturned, the sentencing case is automatically dismissed.

7. Appeals

(1) An appeal is a case for which the petitioner seeks to reverse or reevaluate a case. An appeal may only be filed if there is no other open appeal for that case, and must be filed against the most recently adjudicated appeal, if one exists.

(2) An appeal may be filed by any member of the South Pacific or by any non-member with a vested interest in the case, for at least one of the reasons described in this article.

(3) Appeals may be submitted on grounds of process violations, contradictions of law, or judicial misconduct. For such an appeal, the assigned justice of the case being appealed is automatically recused from the appeal case.

(4) Appeals may be submitted upon submission of new evidence that a reasonable person considers grounds for reviewing the original opinion.

8. Confidentiality

(1) By default, material submitted for a case shall be submitted alongside the case proceedings in a public venue.

(2) Material that is confidential and may harm regional security may be submitted to the Court, provided that the Court works with the corresponding authority to redact the information that may harm regional security.

(3) Material that is of a personal nature, such as that which reveals personally identifiable information or which would otherwise unreasonably violate personal privacy, may be provided to the Court on a confidential basis, and published in a redacted form only if a reasonable person could not deduce the identity being protected.

9. Temporary Injunctions

(1) The assigned justice of a case may issue a temporary injunction to compel an individual or institution to do or refrain from specific acts. The injunction must be issued either directly to a party of the case, or to another individual or organization if the act described in the order directly affects a party of the case. An injunction may only be issued if pertinent to the orderly progression of the case or in the interest of public peace and order.

(2) Any injunction must include a time limit not exceeding four weeks, after which it expires. An injunction may be extended at any time, with each extension also including a time limit not exceeding four weeks from the moment the extension is issued. An injunction automatically expires when its associated case completes, unless it is grandfathered into a succeeding sentencing case if applicable.

(3) Issuing, lifting, amending, renewing or extending a temporary injunction requires approval by another justice not recused from the case.

(4) A temporary injunction may not unreasonably restrict an individual’s existing right of participation in the region, nor may it exclude the possibility of seeking remedy through the court. A temporary injunction may not order an act that is not reversible.