Judicial system of Mercury
The judicial system of Mercury consists of six levels of courts, each with a strict hierarchy of importance. The system deals with questions of both civil and criminal law throughout Mercury.
- Supreme Court of Mercury: The Supreme Court is the highest level of court in Mercury, and is the only level of court specifically prescribed in the Constitution. The Supreme Court deals with matters of appeal referred to it by lower-level courts, but has original jurisdiction over cases involving:
- ambassadors, diplomats or foreign governments;
- the Republic, the President, constituent countries or judges;
- treason or other crimes against constitutional government; and
- the interpretation of the Constitution
- Federal Courts of Mercury: The Federal Courts are the second-highest level of court in Mercury, which has original jurisdiction over high-level criminal cases, generally those with a maximum sentence greater than 5 years in prison. There are Federal Courts located in most major cities in Mercury, each with equal authority, which allows serious crimes to be dealt with locally.
- State Supreme Courts of Mercury: State Supreme Courts are the highest level of appeals court other than the federal Supreme Court. In addition to their function as an appellate court, they also have original jurisdiction over civil cases where the claimed damages amount to ₥c5 million or more.
- State Courts of Mercury: State Courts have original jurisdiction over criminal cases where the maximum sentence is 5 years or lower. All cities and some major towns will have a State Court building.
- County Courts of Mercury: County Courts have jurisdiction over low-level and petty crimes, as well as civil cases where the claimed damages range from ₥c200,000 to 4,999,999.
- Civil Courts of Mercury: Civil Courts are the lowest-level court in Mercury, only having jurisdiction over civil cases with claimed damages up to ₥c199,999.
Authority over criminal cases
All levels of the judiciary, barring the State Supreme Courts and Civil Courts, have some level of jurisdiction over criminal cases. Cases referred to any level of court are dealt with in their entirety by that court, save for any appeals. When a case is referred to a court trial, defendants have a number of plea options, each with a specific legal definition:
- Guilty: The defendant admits to the offence, removing the need for a trial, with the case proceeding directly to sentencing.
- Responsible: The defendant admits responsibility for the offence that was committed, however disagrees with the severity of the charge.
- Not responsible: The defendant admits to the offence, however claims no legal responsibilty for the act, for instance, diminished responsibilty due to learning difficulties or self-defence.
- Not guilty: The defendant denies committing any relevant offence.
Although the Constitution does grant defendants the right not to self-incriminate, the plea of responsible does not fall foul of this right, as defendants are not compelled to select the plea, but are given the option to submit it if they feel that the offence charged to them is too severe.
Following a guilty or responsible verdict being delivered by the jury, the court proceeds to sentencing. The judge appointed has full and final authority over the sentence imposed. The judge may consider any mitigating or aggravating factors submitted to them by the jury, however the jury does not have any further part in sentencing once the verdict is submitted.
Authority over civil cases
In civil cases, the only two possible verdicts are responsible and not responsible, as there is no criminal offence committed in these cases that make guilty or not guilty verdicts relevant. Where a civil defendant offers a plea of either guilty or not guilty, they must be asked by the judge to resubmit their plea, as these can not be accepted by courts dealing with civil cases. Civil cases often do not have an appointed jury, however in high-level cases, a judge may request one at their sole discretion.