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Messages - Istefan Perþonest

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Wittenberg / Re: Announcing the Parti Tafialistà
« on: April 10, 2021, 04:32:14 PM »
HAHAHAHA it's not as easy as that
Did you introduce a two-vote threshold while I was looking away or something? If not then yes, it is as easy as that!

You also have to pay $10!
Don't worry, I have more than just $10 to spare, but also I have more than enough time to pay the fee after the first results are published, as far as I know. Speaking of which: if a party were to get zero seats for whatever reason (not the case here, one vote is enough), do they still have to pay the fee?

This is gonna be interesting!

Only parties with Cosa seats pay the fee.
Slightly more precisely, the only consequence of not paying a fee is not getting your seat(s). If you paid in advance, you can't get a refund for not getting a seat. This is because of El Lexhatx 9.2: "Once a fee has been received by the Burgermeister of Inland Revenue and/or their appointed agents, it is not refundable for any reason."

(At least, that's how I would handle it administratively with my Burgermeister hat on. I am not offering an official legal interpretation with my Puisne Justice hat on, and in any case I'd have to recuse myself as a Justice if anyone sued the Burgermeister for their fee back.)

Wittenberg / Re: Announcing the Parti Tafialistà
« on: April 10, 2021, 04:13:21 PM »
I've received no record of any party paying fees yet.
Which is because no party has paid a fee yet.

Yeah, I designed both the coin and the stamp. The crows on each, and the crown and the shield-shape on the coin obverse, were from Creative Commons-licensed files I found on the Internet. Most other elements (incluuding the "Ben" character) were from fonts installed on my computer, then everything thrown together in free-to-me of image design programs (MS Paint, Paint.NET, GIMP, and Inkscape all were used at some point).

Since we didn't release the coins the year of initial design, I went in and deleted the date from my obverse design image file, and we had the die-maker add that.

The coin design was deliberately done in single-level relief because that was substantially cheaper than multi-level for the die. Only place I regret that any is the crow silhouette, since there's something of a blob effect in the middle.

I did ℓ1 and ℓ2 reverse designs made at the same time as the ℓ5, using a a CC-licensed dandelion silhouette and a CC-licensed squirrel  silhouette respectively instead of the ℓ5's crow. Dandelion, squirrel, and crow because those are the established national symbols, of course. That order on the coins because each was symbolically "higher" for the higher coin value; dandelion sprouting from the ground, squirrels running around above the ground and into trees, crows able to soar above the trees.

If I'd known at the time of the original design that we were going to make the ℓ5 (my plans at the time of design were to do the ℓ1, with a much larger run of a smaller coin and a Kickstarter to finance it), I might have tossed the "higher" symbolism in favor of the dandelion on the ℓ5 and the crow on the ℓ1, because I think the dandelion silhouette was more visually interesting, and I would have wanted to avoid repeating the crow from the stamp.

Wittenberg / Re: Calling Council of Governors
« on: January 15, 2021, 07:18:07 PM »
Benito casts its vote for Xhorxh Pol Briga.

Wittenberg / Re: [FINANCE] PATRIOT POINTS programme for state fundraising
« on: January 13, 2021, 09:18:37 AM »
I have put in an order for a single coin, but also made a separate monetary contribution.

Will the @Burgermeister of Internal Revenue confirm to me publicly or privately that both things were received succcesfully?
I've received one single-coin order (from Kansas) and one $5 contribution (from Colorado) since the 8th. So I probably didn't get both of yours successfully.

My apologies for the long time it's taken me to reply to your questions, Senator del Val. My parents and I were all affected by an unusually strong cold (and in my and my mother's cases, a compounding sinus infection) that, coinciding with El Paso being a COVID-19 hotspot, seriously disrupted our normal activities, which we've slowly been getting back into order. (We're fine.)

Now, to address your questions:

I do have other questions, but foremost I would like to ask: how should the Uppermost Cort endeavor to increase overall engagement, education, and enthusiasm with the judiciary itself and the law more generally? Are you concerned, if at all, that too few Talossans appreciate our unique legal system?
I think the ideal, and of course impossible, situation for any society is that both law and justice be so clear and so adhered to by every citizen that there is never any need to have a judge. Accordingly, the ideal Talossa would have little engagement or enthusiasm with the judiciary at all, it being a forgotten and dusty corner of the Organic Law with no relevance. However, we are quite unlikely to ever reach that ideal.

In the world we have, enthusiasm and engagement assist in necessary tasks, and education is vital to them. And the Cort absolutely needs to take the matter of education in-hand, particularly as regards to its supervision of the National Bar. I expect that as soon as it does, we'll see any number of people engage enthusiastically with that opportunity, and grow in appreciation of the Talossan legal system. If I become a member of the Cort, I expect I'll be in a position to get the ball rolling on educational initiatives.

On that note: what would be your legal analysis in the semi-recent criminal case, re: Legality of non-Talossan Name? I would like to hear not only whether you think that the court of original jurisdiction reached a sound conclusion (and why it did or did not), but also whether you worry that it set(s) a bad legal precedent.
As it is entirely possible this specific case as a precedent will come up in a case before the Uppermost Cort, particularly as you specifically asked about its nature as a precedent, in accordance with the American Bar Association's Canon 5A(3)(d)(i) of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and the so-called "Ginsburg Rule" regarding giving "no hints, no forecasts, no previews" about how a nominee would rule as a judge in a particular case, I respectfully decline to answer this question.

I grant that those are American rather than Talossan principles on the conduct of judicial nominees, and are not binding as law even for Americans, but I think they make a good ethical guideline.

Lastly for this round: what is your favorite flavor of ice cream, and what is your most enjoyed activity during the winter months?
My favorite flavor of ice cream varies according to my mood, but is almost always either Cookies 'n' Cream or Moose Tracks. (Variations on those themes, like a Dairy Queen Blizzard/Sonic Blast made with either Oreo pieces or with peanut butter cups, also work.)

Winter conditions in El Paso are usually much like late fall/early spring where I grew up (Detroit), except rather drier, so my mind sort of glitches at this. While El Paso has what the locals call "winter months", it's generally a period where it's merely too cold to engage in "summer" activities (like swimming outdoors), rather than a period with its own winter activities. Accumulated snowfall, for example, is a one-week-every-seven-years sort of thing; the average daily low temperature in January is still above freezing.  And reaching back decades to my youth would ignore that I'm a rather different person now than I was then.

However, after writing all that, one definitely winter-specific activity that I do engage in is driving around at night to look at displays of Christmas lights and luminaria displays.

Upon reading this in further detail, I am curious about a few details.

It seems incongruent to suggest on the one hand that an unelected judge should not make law, and on the other hand that only an unelected judge can determine what the intent of the authors was or is.

My question here is: Do you see the irony in those assertions, S:reu Perþonest? Please explain your answer thoroughly, as to why these statements are or are not mutually exclusive.

Follow-up question, then: What if your own interpretation of a law, particularly while in your official capacity as a judge, comes at odds with the authors' own intent? What if the language says something so obviously to you, but the author testifies that the language means something else? Would you then defer to the author's intent? If so, can you really call yourself a textualist?; and if not, how do you reconcile the hypocrisy?
To begin with, I must say that I do not assert that a judge is in the business of determining what the intent of the authors was. Rather, I assert that determining what the intent of the authors was is entirely outside what a judge should be doing.

The first reason, going back to the matter of democratic principle, is that the authors of a law did not enact the law. Insofar as the intent of the lawmakers matters, in a democracy it is not the intent of the authors that needs to be considered, but the joint intent of all the persons who enacted the law. In the case of Talossan statute law, the Ziu enacted the law, and in the case of the Organic Law, the Ziu and the voters in the referendum enacted the law. It is undemocratic to privilege the intent of the authors of the text over the intent of the representatives of the people, and even the people themselves, who made that text into law. That, then, becomes the core of the democratic reason for dealing with the text; most of the people who actually enacted the law did so based on reading the text and choosing to ratify it, and the best evidence of what they intended by their ratification is the text itself.

The second reason, the principle of fair notice, discourages trying to divine the intent of even those who enacted the law, because the text is written down for people to read and comply with, while the intent of the legislators is not. People can read, understand, and calibrate their conduct to comply with the written law, but face obvious difficulties in doing so with "legislative intent". This is especially true since an unwritten intent cannot be verified to be unchanged; what a legislature intended to enact at the time and what the legislators currently think should be enacted are not necessarily the same thing, even when the legislators honestly believe (due to the workings of human memory) that their intent is unchanged. This principle is one of justice even more fundamental than democracy; a place where you can be punished for violations of an unknowable or ex post facto law is a worse tyranny than one where you can only be punished for clear violations of clearly known laws, even if the former laws are made democratically and the latter's aren't.

Accordingly, my response to an author of a given law that says his intent was other than the meaning I think obvious is, "Then you should amend the law to more clearly express your intent; I judge what the law is, not what you meant it to be." I do not believe, in so doing, I am engaged in any hypocrisy.

As to whether only an unelected judge can say what the law is, well, the judicial power is specifically the power to determine what the law means and apply it in a case, so that was determined by the choice to vest the judicial power in unelected judges in the Organic Law. It would be possible to make other arrangements; for example, it would be possible to make the author of a law the judge of what a law means. While I think that would work poorly in practice for several reasons, in any case it is not the arrangement that Talossans have chosen with the Organic Law we have. Since the judicial power is vested in the unelected Cort pü Inalt, it is necessarily the role of unelected Justices to determine the meaning of the law in applying it to a case.

The Hopper / Re: The We Really Mean It This Time Bill
« on: October 24, 2020, 08:43:16 PM »
You'd seriously pass up the opportunity to become the second female King in Talossan history?
Note, under the current Organic Law, at least as posted to the wiki, "The Kingdom of Talossa is a constitutional Monarchy with a King (or, if female, Queen) as its head of State."

So, unless that was also revised, there'd be no chance of a "King Miestră".

The ideal of the Civil Service is that it nonpolitically serves Talossa in administering the state under the direction of the Government of the day, and I believe my service as Burgermeister of Inland Revenue has exemplified that standard. I think my role as such is, indeed, fundamentally compatible with a role on the Uppermost Cort, at least under current Talossan conditions.

Now, I do acknowledge that I was involved in policy and politics early in my tenure as Burgermeister, but that was in my then-role of Minister of Finance. Since my (stormy) resignation from that office in 2014, the closest I believe I've come to national politics is giving advice to the Government when that advice has been requested. The lesson I took from that experience, after I had some time to clear my head, was that I'm not temperamentally suited to a political role in Talossa. I'll note that not only have I not held national political office since (not even a seat in the Cosa), but I've also not been a member of any party, and to my recollection have largely refrained from even expressing political opinions. I have, I feel, already stepped back from Talossan politics. (Inherent in saying that is that I believe my performance in the other offices I've held in the last six years has been consistent with having stepped back from politics. Whether as Cunstaval of Fiova, Arvitieir Prima of Benito, Electoral Commissioner, or even Maestro of Benito, I believe I've largely avoided politics.)

In a perfect world, I would drop all my other offices upon becoming a Justice, to eliminate as many potential conflicts as possible. But in a perfect world, there'd be a bunch of active and qualified candidates to take over them all. As it is, I don't currently plan to resign any of them.

On the more general point, I don't have a lot of insight, I'm afraid. Given how central political activity is to Talossa, being both active and apolitical are in tension with each other, and thus there's a marked historical tendency for Justices to drift away from paying attention. I don't have a good idea as to how to square that circle in general, even if it seems like I've done it in my personal case.

My broad judicial philosophy is textualism; that the actual, ordinary, public meaning of the words should prevail. (Fortunately, in Talossa, our laws are not so old as to raise the question of linguistic drift.) This itself is based on two principles.

The first is democratic legitimacy. What, exactly, was the intent of each and every one of the legislators at the time they voted for the legislation is impossible to know, and so any version of reading legislative intent or considering the question of the problem the law was intended to address inherently privileges some votes over others. The actual language they voted all for, however, is unambiguously the language they all chose to enact. And when an unelected judge substitutes his sense of justice for what the law says, he is usurping power from the representatives that made the law; and here it is a worse usurpation of democracy, because while the legislature can change the intent by passing a new law, they certainly can't change the judge's sense of justice the same way. The defect of democracy is that it never can implement uncompromised justice; the glory is that it is far more amenable to correction than any other system.

The second reason is the principle of fair notice. Any individual person should be held to adhering only to the law as written, rather than being expected to know the intent of those who wrote it or of the sense of justice of the judge. The "crime of analogy" seen in Soviet and Imperial Chinese law creates a structurally unjust society in a way that no unjust but published statute possibly can.

(The concept of lapsus linguae still applies; obvious human error should be treated as such. I grant that my predicates are vague enough that there's a sorites paradox in drawing the line between noticing drafting errors and trying to read intent.)

Now, how does all this impersonal theoretical principle rubber hit the road when you reach the personal end of small-group dynamics and the emotions? I think, ultimately, it works better for a judge to adhere to the principle than to try to directly address the dynamics. While I think it is potentially worthwhile for a judge to promote non-public discussion between the parties to reach a settlement friendlier to the dynamics, if there is no settlement, the best way to rule is, in fact, impersonally. A party that loses what it think it deserved is going to be all the more incensed if it thinks it was a case of the judge personally siding against the party, to the detriment of the group dynamics, and every millimeter by which the judge deviates from the impersonal application of the law is the more justification for feeling so.

Of course, other people will disagree with me on pretty much all those points, and I can see their arguments for doing so, even if they do not persuade me. If any of you find my approach truly unacceptable, I urge you to vote against my appointment, because after decades of amateur legal philosophizing it is very unlikely that I will change my mind.

Honorable Senators, thank you for this opportunity to speak.

When I was a nine-year-old boy, I came across a book on the United States Supreme Court in my elementary school library. By the card in the back of that book (this was back before computerization), I was the first student to take that book out of the library. As a result of reading that book, I conceived an ambition to become a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Two years later, as part of an assembly celebrating the bicentennial of the US Bill of Rights, correctly answering a question about what proceeded the Constitution in the US got me put on a mock Supreme Court, where I wound up (after manipulating the line-up so I'd be in the middle, and thus Chief Justice) casting a deciding vote against allowing 13-year-olds to drive cars.

Nine years later, various events in my life had caused me to abandon my childhood ambition, but the echo survived. When I became Talossan, in both my citizenship application and discussion on that era's Wittenberg, I expressed interest in serving on the Uppermost Cort. The dramas of that era wore on me, and I started a pattern of going inactive for long stretches of time, and I let the ghost of my childhood ambition slumber.

When I returned to the changed Talossa of the Reunision era, that ambition continued to sleep for the most part. On a couple occasions I expressed interest in joining the Talossan bar, but my timing was poor when I did; the bar had lapsed into inactivity. On one occasion I did privately message it to one person about my willingness to be on the Cort, but I did not vigorously pursue it; I thought that actively campaigning to be a Justice was unseemly, and I was quite afraid of rejection.

Then, recently, Seneschál Miestră Schivă, UrN, asked me if I would be interested in serving on the Cort. I leapt on the opportunity like my cat attacking a catnip-stuffed toy. The nine-year-old boy still inside this forty-two-year-old man is downright gleeful at the chance to become a member of Talossa's Uppermost Cort.

So, enough about how this, in of course its own Talossan way, would fulfill a childhood dream of mine. I'm sure many of you have questions and opinions about what sort of Justice I would be, so let's get to them.

Wittenberg / Re: Legal Issues Not Directed at Anyone in Particular
« on: October 13, 2020, 05:50:38 PM »
Any party with a majority in the Ziu and any province can create themselves a friendly Senats seats whenever they please.  A simple act of the Ziu creates a new province from the existing one and assigns whatever specific citizens they want, however they please (as long as it includes one active person and nine other citizens).  Theoretically this could be done multiple times, in fact, if there are enough citizens available -- but I think only Benito could actually do it more than once right now (yielded two new ten-person provinces and one four-person province).  As far as I can tell, there is nothing to prevent this.  It's actually a significant danger, since any majority in the Ziu is going to command a majority in at least a couple of provinces, and two Senats votes would be a big deal.
Well, obviously, the first check is that you actually have to have a Senats majority in order to pass an act of the Ziu. At which point, why do you need to expand the Senats in order to secure a friendly Senats?

The only obvious case would be if you had a majority in the Senats but needed a two-thirds majority. And such cases are limited to impeaching a member of the Senats (which still has to be ratified by a provincial vote), and certain OrgLaw amendments (which would still need voter approval). It seems a contrived scenario.

The other case would be if a party thought it was going to lose the next election but could retain the Senats if it made a few friendly Senators. But, frankly, Talossan politics are too small-scale and too non-geographic for that to be the sort of secure thing that, say, a transient Congressional majority making DC into a state would be. And to do it, you'd either need the consent of the king or a two-thirds Cosa majority to pass the bill over his veto.

All right, by the schedule, the first speech of the hearing is supposed to be no earlier than yesterday, and I get the first one, and everyone's supposed to make a request to make the speech to this thread. So, here's my request (which, really, I should have made rather earlier, but I had just skimmed for the date rather than reading everything carefully).

Wittenberg / Citizenship Petition for Nicholas Richard Burman
« on: October 08, 2020, 12:24:06 PM »
Citizenship Petition for Nicholas Richard Burman

WHEREAS it has been more than a fortnight since Nicholas Richard Burman first posted on Wittenberg and in that time he has demonstrated an active and genuine interest in Talossanity, and

WHEREAS Nicholas Richard Burman desires citizenship in the Kingdom of Talossa and by all indications it appears that he would be a loyal and dedicated citizen and a credit to this nation if he obtains a grant of citizenship, and

WHEREAS I, have communicated via Zoom with Nicholas Richard Burman last Thursday as a private Talossan citizen, so

THEREFORE I, Istefan Éovart Perþonest, petition the Secretary of State to issue a grant of citizenship to Nicholas Richard Burman, as specified by law.

Wittenberg / Re: D&D
« on: October 07, 2020, 08:23:18 PM »
No objections being heard, Thursday it is. 8:00 EST.
Having recovered from my cold, I should be awake at the start time this week, and more coherent in my interactions.

Fiôvâ / Re: An Acting Capitán for Fiôvâ?
« on: September 26, 2020, 06:35:45 PM »
I mean, I'd do it if you really thought it was important, but honestly I've been trying to take AD's advice, i.e. be absent because it'll encourage people to fill the gap. Hasn't worked, lol
That's fine, I was just seeing if being a bit provocative could provoke someone into activity. Looked to be vaguely inside the ambit of "advise, encourage, and warn".

(If I thought the absence of a Capitán an actual crisis, rather than make a public post, I'd have gone directly to you-as-provincial-SoS about it. After all, then the goal would be getting the job filled, not trying to see if talking about "Acting Capitán Donald Trump" woke people up.)

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