CFJ 1068 

     "Chaos Harlequin has violated Rule 1738."

Judge:       elJefe
Judgement:   FALSE

Justices:    Morendil (S), Steve (J), Kolja A. (pro-C)
Decision:    SUSTAIN

Eligible:    Andre, Calabresi, ChrisM, Chuck, Crito,
	     General Chaos, Kolja A., Michael, Morendil, Murphy,
	     Oerjan, Steve, Swann, Vlad

Ineligible:  Antimatter (not a player), elJefe (Judge)
On request:  Vanyel
On hold:     Harlequin, Vir


  Called by Antimatter, 4 Nov 1997 20:28:28 -0800
  Assigned to elJefe, 7 Nov 1997 11:32:12 +0100 (MET)
  elJefe judges FALSE, 8 Nov 1997 00:06:31 +0000
  Appealed by Oerjan, 9 Nov 1997
  Appealed by elJefe, 9 Nov 1997 (inter alia)
  Assigned to Morendil, Steve, and Kolja A. as Justices, 12 Nov 1997
07:47:32 +0000
  Justice Morendil: sustain, 12 Nov 1997 14:32:06 +0100
  Justice Kolja A.: sustain, 14 Nov 1997 14:39:44 +0100
  Justice Steve: overturn and judge TRUE, 18 Nov 1997 16:33:09 +1100


Caller's Arguments: 

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm too lazy to go through and exhaustively check the
ruleset, but I'm pretty sure that Harlequin is guilty of not completed my
Probate in a timely fashion. Therefore, in order to attempt to get out of
Probate in time to reregister sometime soon, I make the following CFJ (even
though I doubt it will help much):


Decision & Reasoning Judge: 

I find that when Antimatter deregistered on 10 September he had no currencies of
any kind (noone did).  Thus he was never placed in Probate by Rule 1601.  Unless
the Rules authorize the Notary to place people into Probate arbitrarily, or to
appoint an EiP for entities not in Probate (which I doubt), I find that the
Notary's attempted appointment of Harlequin as EiP had no effect.

Thus Harlequin is not an Executor in Probate for Antimatter. 

I do note that Morendil _did_ possess currencies when he was deregistered, and
so Harlequin's appointment as EiP for Morendil (on 27 October) was effective.

Though the actions required of the EiP are straightforward, I find that Rule
1738 requires "timely" action rather than "as soon as possible".  It would be
unreasonable to hold that 8 days of inaction was a violation. Thus Harlequin did
not violate Rule 1738 here either.

Decision of the Speaker:

A brief review of the facts is in order. Player Antimatter deregistered on Sep.
10 of this year. Player Harlequin was assigned as Antimatter's Executor in
Probate on Sep. 11; having not, as far as I can determine, made any particular
effort to carry out eir duties as Antimatter's Executor in Probate, Harlequin
went On Hold on Nov. 5, shortly after this CFJ was Called on Nov. 4 by
Antimatter, who was not at this time a Player.

The issue at hand is, therefore, whether the period of time between Sep. 11 and
Nov. 4 - roughly, two months - constituted a sufficient amount of time to carry
out the duties normally required of an Executor in Probate, in which case it
would be fair to Judge the CFJ TRUE.

I would normally consider a two-month period amply sufficient to carry out
nearly any duty that the Rule currently impose on Players. However, Rule 1575
places quite stringent standards of proof on a Judge deciding on the matter a
Rule violation.

In this instance, I find that there are several reasons why a period of two
months may not be considered "beyond reasonable doubt" sufficient to carry out
an Executor in Probate's duties. First and foremost, not one EiP has at this
time completed the duties required of em, and some have been assigned to their
respective estates for periods of the same order. Second, and more peripheral,
no Rule currently provides an adequate method for determining what period of
time "in a timely manner" could refer to. Absent such definitions, I would
consider one or more instances of Executors in Probate completing their duties
in a period of two months or less satisfactory evidence to Judge TRUE, but that
is not the case.

For these reasons, and while noting that Judge's elJefe rests on flawed
premises, I hereby Sustain the original Judgement.

Evidence (appended by Speaker) : 

Antimatter's deregistration message, main headers : 

Date sent:        Wed, 10 Sep 1997 19:15:24 -0700 (PDT)
From:             Ross Morgan-Linial rmorgan-@fred.fhcrc.org
To:               agora-busines-@gecko.serc.rmit.edu.au
Subject:          BUS: Deregistration

Notary Murphy's assignment of Harlequin as Antimatter's EiP, main headers :

Date sent:        Thu, 11 Sep 1997 21:20:56 -0700
To:               agora-busines-@gecko.serc.rmit.edu.au
From:             "Ed Murphy" for-@bayside.net
Subject:          BUS: Executor in Probate

Harlequin's On Hold message, main headers : 

From:             linda hall particl-@servtech.com
Subject:          BUS: On Hold
To:               agora-busines-@gecko.serc.rmit.edu.au
Date sent:        Wed, 5 Nov 1997 15:32:34 -0500 (EST)

Rule 1575/0 (Power=1) 
Standards of Proof

      A CFJ alleging that a Player has violated a Rule or committed a 
      Crime shall not be judged TRUE unless the evidence is sufficient 
      to be certain of that Judgement beyond reasonable doubt. 

      In all other CFJs, the Judgement shall be consistent with the 
      preponderance of the evidence at hand. 

Decision of pro-CotC Kolja A.: 

The first judge's argument that Harlequin wasn't really Antimatter's EiP is
false because it overlooks the last paragraph of 1601.

The appeal judgement therefore has to focus on the question whether Harlequin
has performed eir duties in a "timely" manner as required by 1738.

However, "timely" is not defined precisely anywhere, and is thus open to
judicial interpretation. I will have to try and help develope a sensible
precedent in this judgement.

1. Which time span should be considered to determine the timeliness of actions? 

The rules do define "as soon as possible" as a possible timing requirement, of
one week. Clearly, "timely" is a more loose requirement than ASAP, so the time
allowed must be significantly more than one week.

Therefore, as far as Harlequin's EiP-ship of Morendil is concerned, e certainly
didn't violate 1738.

Other time delays implemented in the rules are from 96 hours (delay between
going on hold and off hold again, 1016) up to one month (necessary delay before
reregistering after being declared lawless, 1714). The time scale on which the
game is proceeding is therefore one of several weeks. The rules usually give
players about one week (delivering judgement) to 10 days (voting period) to
perform tasks that players usually want to perform, but can decline or ignore if
they want. "Timely", as a requirement clearly meant to be more loose than other
requirements in the rules, should therefore be interpreted as a reference to a
time of several weeks, possibly but not necessarily up to two months.

This also makes sense in the issue at hand: while the EiP-ship can also be
declined (the EiP can resign from this duty, 1738), one may at least give a
newly appointed EiP some weeks to assess the situation of the estate in probate
and perform eir duties as required - or find out that this is too much work for
em, and resign as a consequence.

Of course, this CFJ concerns a time span of about two months (this is how long
Harlequin was EiP of Antimatter when this CFJ was made), which is just a
borderline case - had it been 3 or 4 weeks, or 3 months, the decision would have
been easier.

Even if the time scale associated with the "timely" requirement is fixed as
"several weeks to two months", of course 1738 cannot be interpreted as a
requirement to _complete_ the termination of the estate in probate in this time:
there may be longwinded affairs of disputed POs, unclear situations and,
possibly, corresponding CFJs involved. However, 1738 may safely be interpreted
as the requirement to _begin_ with the termination of the estate within such a
time frame.

2. The second question therefore is, did Harlequin make reasonable attempts to
perform eir duties according to 1738? 

This is where, in this judge's opinion and within eir horizon, this CFJ covers
new ground in Agora's judicial history: In other judgements all I need to be
able to judge is a short description of the situation and the rules. The issues
normally are ones of rule interpretation.

The present case is more concerned with an assessment of a players behavior, not
a rules interpretation. Here, I'd really like to give the accused a chance to
defend emself and explain why e didn't do anything visible to start doing eir
job as EiP, and whether e did do some things I just missed or never became aware
of. However, with Harlequin on hold and the limited time I have available for
delivering my judgement, I can not give Harlequin this chance the way I'd really
like to. [Side note: Maybe for "criminal cases" like this a different procedure
would be appropriate, with enough time and, possibly, more detailed procedures
for hearing both sides of the case.]

>From the information I have available, and the silence of the accused so far, I
would tend to judge true, assuming that Harlequin did not even begin to do eir
duties (or resign eir EiP-ship) within the two months after eir assignment.

However, 1575 prescribes a very high standard of certainty required to judge a
CFJ as the present one TRUE. Because the time frame in question is so close to
the borderline of what I would call "timely", and because I feel that the
evidence available to me may not be quite complete, I cannot judge this CFJ

Although for different reasons, I therefore sustain the original judgement of
FALSE by elJefe.

Decision of the Justiciar: 

In the matter of the Appeal of CFJ 1068, I hereby overturn elJefe's Judgement
and rule that the Statement is TRUE.

I am almost entirely in agreement in with Judge Kolja concerning this case. I
have little of substance to add to his excellent remarks on how the requirement
that Probate be carried out 'in a timely manner' is to be understood. I would
add only that we need not think that 'in a timely manner' needs to be understood
as referring to the same length of time in every case. We might think in one
case that eight weeks is time enough, but think differently in another due to
extenuating circumstances. These remarks are consistent with Kolja's, but I
thought it worth making them more explicit.

My disagreement with Kolja arises only in the final step of his reasoning, ie
the application of R1575. I have been following events reasonably closely, and I
am quite satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Harlequin has not undertaken to
dispose of Antimatter's assets and debts in accordance with the Probate Code in
a timely manner. He is therefore in violation of R1738.

I note that the infection of R908 saves Harlequin from having to make a Formal
Apology. I also note, in respect of R1439, that the Caller of the CFJ,
Antimatter, is not a Player.