The Imperial Majesty vs. HIM Emperor Jonathan I

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The Imperial Majesty vs. HIM Emperor Jonathan I
Flag of Austenasia.png
National flag of Austenasia
Information
Court Imperial Court
Date 13 - 19 January 2016
Location Skype
Judge HIM Emperor Jonathan I
Prosecutor HIM Emperor Jonathan I
(represented by Sir Sebastian Linden)
Defendant HIM Emperor Jonathan I
(represented by HM King Adam I)
Result Defendant found guilty of two counts of high treason and one count of treason
Sentence Six weeks of exile, to be served in no more than three separate periods of no less than fourteen days, at the discretion of the defendant.
MSLC Citation The Imperial Majesty vs. HIM Emperor Jonathan I AST IC 2016

The Imperial Majesty vs. HIM Emperor Jonathan I was a judicial trial that took place in the Empire of Austenasia in January 2016, only the second in the history of that nation. The case was heard by the Imperial Court, and was began after Emperor Jonathan I charged himself for treason (against Emperor Esmond III) in regards to actions he took against the then Emperor while still Crown Prince during the Fall of Wrythe and the 5 January Austenasian coup attempt.

The Emperor was found guilty of all charges, and agreed to serve six weeks of exile as atonement when it was given as a sentence by the consuls.

Background

In late 2010, Esmond III reigned as Emperor of Austenasia, with the then-Crown Prince Jonathan (now Emperor Jonathan I) serving as Prime Minister. In December, the Crown Prince arranged with Declan I for the War of the Orlian Reunification to take place, a conflict the course of which was primarily orchestrated by the Crown Prince and which ended with Declan I being made co-Monarch of Austenasia after the Fall of Wrythe.

The Crown Prince publicly admitted his role in these events a year later, publishing a document now known as the December Confession. In this document, he claimed that he orchestrated the war in response to Esmond III having expressed a wish to overthrow the constitutional government, and aimed to install Declan I as a co-Monarch in order to provide a counterweight to Esmond's power. Most contemporary commentators now agree that the extent to which Declan I was manipulating the Crown Prince and exploiting his concerns over Esmond's ambitions was far greater than historically has often been presumed.

After Declan I was made co-Emperor, events came to a head on 5 January 2011, when Esmond III and Crown Prince Jonathan simultaneously attempted unsuccessful coups, the former attempting to install himself as a dictator and the latter attempting to trick Esmond into abdicating. Although Esmond III remained co-Emperor after this event, his influence rapidly declined, with Parliament removing his powers on 31 March and the implementation of the 2011 Constitution removing him from the position of Monarch altogether on 20 September 2011. Declan I remained sole Emperor until his abdication in January 2013, when he was succeeded by the now Jonathan I.

Jonathan I had previously expressed remorse during his reign for his actions against Esmond III, formally apologising to him in person on 5 September 2014 for his role in removing him from power, and naming the Crown Dependency of Esmondia in his honour on 29 October 2015. Nevertheless, in his 2015 Christmas broadcast, the Emperor publicly announced a wish for any unaddressed injustices remaining from the Orlian war and related events to be looked into.

Trial

Under the Austenasian Constitution of 2011, the Monarch is inviolable and sacrosanct, and the Codex Jonathanus establishes that they are not legally bound by the law. However, the Judiciary Act 2015 provided for the Monarch to organise a trial for themselves "should the Monarch believe they have committed a crime, and wish in humility to be tried for it".

As the Emperor was the one calling the trial against himself on charges to be tried in the Imperial Court, that resulted in him legally being prosecutor, defendant, and judge, a situation which would have been unacceptably complicated (and of dubious fairness) should Jonathan I have exercised all three roles in person. A committee of the Privy Concil therefore arranged for Adam I of Überstadt to argue in defence of the then Crown Prince's actions and for Sir Sebastian Linden to argue for their illegality, while the Monarch would preside over and monitor the trial as judge.

After a jury was selected by the Monarch and Prime Minister, the trial began on 13 January 2016, taking place over Skype due to the distance between the participants. The trial was adjourned for a day on 17 January due to it being a Sunday. The legal arguments between the defence and prosecution ended on 18 January, and the last of the jurors cast their vote on 19 January, ending the trial.

High treason (first charge)

The first charge the Emperor had brought against himself was high treason, for ordering Colonel Robert to restrain Esmond III during the January coup attempt. Act 134 defined "restraining the Monarch" as high treason, and conspiring to commit high treason as high treason itself.

The defence pleaded innocent on the basis of necessity, arguing that the order was necessary to subdue the members of the Austenasian Army and courtiers present and demonstrate the strength of the constitutional government in the face of the threat Esmond III posed to it, as well as to enable the then Crown Prince to sign the document putting Esmond's alleged abdication into effect without being attacked. Linden responded by arguing that there was no proof that the situation was of sufficient gravity as to necessitate ordering the restraint of the Monarch.

The jury found the Emperor guilty of this charge.

High treason (second charge)

The second charge the Emperor had brought against himself was also of high treason, for attempting during the January coup attempt to trick Esmond III into abdicating without his full and explicit consent. Linden argued that this fulfilled another definition of high treason made by Act 134, that is, "wilfully doing anything which might disturb or interrupt the Monarch’s lawful possession of the Throne".

The defence pleaded innocent on the basis of necessity, with Adam arguing that the attempt was necessary to prevent Esmond III from overthrowing the constitutional government. Linden disputed this, pointing out that Declan I had already been installed as a co-Monarch and that Esmond would have had little to no support from the population had he attempted a revolution backed by the military, meaning that there was little chance of the constitutional government being overthrown.

The jury found the Emperor guilty of this charge.

Treason

The third charge the Emperor had brought against himself was of treason, for "Encouraging a foreign country to invade Austenasia" (Act 134, Law 1, Paragraph A), that is, by conspiring with Midget Fuhrer Thomas to arrange the Fall of Wrythe.

The defence pleaded innocent on the basis of necessity, arguing that planning an invasion was necessary to diminish Esmond's influence and install Declan I as a co-Monarch. Linden argued that there was no "urgent and immediate threat" necessitating such plans (as required by the definition of the defence of necessity) as the Fall of Wrythe took place during the school Christmas holidays during which Esmond III had little access to the Austenasian Army and a military-backed revolution was extremely unlikely.

The jury found the Emperor guilty of this charge.

Sentencing and aftermath

On 26 January, the consuls issued a sentence of two weeks of exile for each of the three charges, for a total of six weeks. In accordance with the Judiciary Act 2015, said sentence could not legally be enforced due to the sacrosanctity and inviolability of the Monarch, but the Emperor nevertheless announced that he would undertake it voluntarily in penance for his actions against Esmond III.

The sentence was to be served in no more than three separate periods of no less than fourteen days, the timing of said periods of exile at the discretion of the Emperor so long as they took place before the end of the year. The Emperor undertook three fortnights of exile - 27 January to 9 February, 23 February to 8 March, and 9 April to 23 April - at the Austenasian Embassy to the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent in Chester.