A Treatise on Pernise Law
The laws of Pern
are based on three simple principles which encompass
most difficulties of law which are encountered by law Harpers. They are: Hold,
Hall, and Weyr are autonomous; the Lord Holder, CraftMaster,
or Weyrleader has absolute jurisdiction of their
Hold, Hall, or Weyr; the HarperCraft
serves solely as advisors and interpreters of law.
The first principle has guided Pern
throughout the centuries and is the basis for the political status of the world.
None of one can order the others around- only a Lords Conclave can remove a Lord
from his position, only a Craft Conclave can establish a new Craft, and only a Weyrleaders
Conclave can deal with important Weyr issues. These
three main divisions of Pernese life are absolutely
separate in decisions of law.
The second principal is the most
important to the function of Pernese law. The only
ones who can make absolute judgment on any crime is the leader of the
appropriate area. That leader can pass that power to underlings, as most Lord
Holders do to their Holders so that they need not deal with
every instigation of crime on their lands. The only appeal that can
be made against the leader of an area is to the appropriate Conclave,
which has the option of hearing the complaint. Any word of the leader of an area
is final and subject only to a reversal by a Conclave.
The final principal is the most
important to the HarperCraft, as it dictates our
position in Pernese law. As repositories of
knowledge and known to be unbiased in their decisions, Harpers have
been traditionally called upon to advise leaders for decisions of law. As
such, Harpers have also tended to interpreting law and applying this to the
basics of law around Pern. Only when called upon are
Harpers to advise matters of law, and only when specifically instructed by the
area's leader can a Harper actually pass judgment. Any crime committed in a
Harper Hall, of course, is still under the MasterHarper's
The chain of redress for an
average man in a Hold is as follows: Holder, major
Hold's Steward, Lord Holder, Lords Conclave. Should a man not agree with the
judgment of one, he can continue to appeal to a higher authority. A Lords
Conclave traditionally only hears major cases against the Lord Holder
specifically. If attention is brought to a Harper
about a crime committed, he is bound to inform the Holder of the location of the
crime and his own Holder of the incident. Jurisdiction for Holders and Lords
follows property lines, as established by the Lords Conclave. A man on a Lord's
land is under that Lord's judgment solely. If a man committed a crime in another
Lord's land and flees to a new Lord's land, the old Lord has no jurisdiction,
but may seek redress with a Lords Conclave if the incident is significant.
If a crime is committed against
or by a Crafter or Weyrfolk under a Lord's
jurisdiction, the Lord still has judgment, but it is proper to invoke a Harper
and a member of the involved Craft/Weyr for advice.
Similarly, if a Holder commits or is the victim of a crime in a Crafthall
or Weyr, he is under the CraftMaster
or Weyrleader's judgment, but a Harper and a Hold
representative are typically called for.
Crafts are similar to Holds in most cases of law, the major
problem occurring when a craft hall is attached
directly to a Hold. In such an event as a crime is committed in a crafthall
and the individual returns to the Hold, Holder and Master have equivalent
jurisdiction and a Harper is typically called in to
officiate the judgment and aid in a compromise in judgment being reached. If a
compromise cannot be made, the Harper is most
commonly called upon to make judgment. If a crime is committed in a crafthall
attached to a Hold and the criminal remains in the crafthall,
he falls under the Master's jurisdiction solely, though the Holder is often
invited to advise on the judgment. The level of
appeals for a Craft is local Journeyman, local Master, Craftsecond,
are frequently more difficult to deal with in terms of law because of the
effects dragons have on their riders. The level of appeals for a Weyrfolk
is Steward, Weyrsecond, Weyrleader,
Weyrs Conclave. The level of appeals for a Rider is Wingleader,
One of the biggest problems in dealing with dragonriders
is that they can fly wherever they like- which includes flying to a location,
committing a crime, and flying back to their Weyr.
Fortunately, most Weyrleaders are harsh on such
Riders and don't let such a thing pass. Should the
incident prove grave enough, the Hold/Craft where the crime was committed can
withhold tithe as punishment (described below). This is
almost never invoked, however, and the incident should be handled between
the Weyrleader and the Craftmaster/Lord
Holder of the area where the crime took place.
Another difficulty in dealing
with Weyr crime is the affect dragons have on their
riders. Due to the occasionally irrational behavior of the dragons, a Rider can
become intensely emotional and cause harm. Adjudication of such events is
best left to the Weyrleader who understands
the dragon-human bond, with the assistance of a dragonsinger
Some events may come to pass
that are beyond a decision by a single Conclave or are so severe penalties much
be placed against an offending Hold, Hall, or Weyr.
Such events may include invasion, piracy, or a Weyr
failing to perform its duties to Pern. In such
cases, a Hall can withdraw its Crafters from a Hold or Weyr
or close a Crafthall. A Hold may eject any Crafters
serving it and, in only the most dire of situations,
refuse tithe to a Weyr. An event has
never even been imagined where a Weyr could
remove its protection from a piece of land, but in theory this is a viable
penalty. Such enormous conflicts should be resolved as swiftly as possible by
the actions of the Harpers and the Conclaves. If an event comes to this point,
the HarperCraft either hasn't
done its job right or is dealing with purely irrational leaders.
The greatest punishment which can be
given out on Pern is exile. Execution is
rarely decreed because of tradition. Only such crimes as murder or rape
should consider exile, but general crimes against a Hold, Hall, or Weyr
may also warrant exile. Lesser punishments include prison time (rarely given due
to the strain on Hold resources), public works, or banishment from a Hold, Hall,
or Weyr. Fines can also be
levied against a perpetrator if a crime was solely monetary. In all
events the punishment should fit the crime and is left
to the leader of the area where the criminal presently is.
Duels are accepted as legal on
most parts of Pern, particularly in the Weyrs.
Should two people agree to a duel (most commonly with daggers), and one be
slain, the winner is not counted a murderer as the other entered in the duel of
his own free will. The law does not apply negatively to the winner of a duel. If
a duel is fought over an agreed-upon item (such as land or a decision the leader
solely could make- such as moving a whole Weyr), the
law upholds the rights of the winner of the duel and the item is given as
Possession is an important aspect of the law. Anyone caught
with incriminating evidence is most probably the prime suspect in a case
involving the evidence. All attempts should be made
to ascertain the criminal's guilt, however.
No matter who happens upon a
criminal, the criminal is still under the jurisdiction of the leader of the area
in which he is presently in. Should a Hold's guard, for example, capture a
criminal in another Lord's land, the Lord has jurisdiction and has the legal
right to take the criminal from the guards. An appeal to the leader of an area must
be made should another leader desire a criminal to be removed from the
first leader's area. Property which previously belonged to a convicted and
exiled or executed criminal falls into the hands of the next of kin. Should no
relatives be surviving, the property is taken in by the
Hold, Hall, or Weyr under which the area previously
fell. A criminal imprisoned or put on a work party still possesses his
property and may not have it seized save to compensate for damages or property
loss which he inflicted during his crime.
The above is attributed to Harper Journeyman Fletcher (And Ista Lord Holder), who may or may not still be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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