The Magistrate and their underlings, the Internal Affairs Agents, are impartial and independent from the rest of the station, and operate outside the standard Chain of Command. As such, they are not part of the Security Team, nor do they answer to the Head of Security or Captain. The Magistrate reports to the Nanotrasen Supreme Court, and IA Agents report to the Magistrate.
The Magistrate has a high time requirement as security, even though it is a high RP role, it is the kind of role that can make or break a person's round. Whereas the IA Agents are meant to be impartial and professional arbiters of Space Law and Standard Operating Procedure, Magistrates must have a comprehensive, encyclopedic understanding of Space Law and how to apply it, must be unbiased and have unimpeachable character.
Simply put, a good Magistrate can single-handedly curtail poor security, and a bad Magistrate can cripple good Security. The Magistrate is the ultimate authority when it comes to sentencing, and can overrule the Warden, Head of Security and even the Captain on all sentences regarding Space Law. Not to mention they are also directly responsible for the Internal Affairs Agents, who have CentComm's ear.
The only authority that can overrule a Magistrate is Central Command itself. That said, if a Magistrate is blatantly breaking Space Law and/or Standard Operating Procedure, Command is fully authorized to impeach them and contact the Supreme Court (via faxing Central Command) for a demotion.
Duties of the Magistrate
- Ensure Sentencing is Just and Legal - You have the final say on all sentencing, regardless of severity. You may want to leave sentencing for smaller crimes to the Officers (IE, most Minor and Medium crimes) but if someone's brought in on blatantly trumped-up or straight-up nonexistent charges (e.g Atmos Tech gets arrested for "touching the pipes" or the Clown is arrested for drawing on the ground), it is completely within your power to completely veto the charge and let the person walk free. Do not abuse this, though. If someone did a genuine crime, they must do the time.
- Make sure Security Records are detailed and accurate - It'll keep you busy when nothing is going on. In busier rounds, when the Warden is rushed off their feet putting people away, you may become essential just because you're doing this. Having an attentive, active Magistrate helps when things are frenetic and 90% of Security don't know why any particular person is in the Brig. In addition to this, being active on Security Comms and maintaining open lines of communication and dialogue goes miles towards making sure Security is doing their job properly.
- Supervise the Internal Affairs Agents - Point them toward cases, investigate complaints against them, read the reports they submit and give advice/sentencing based on them.
- Be aware of Standard Operating Procedure - Know your Alert levels and what's legal therein, as well as Criminal Procedure. Keeping in touch with the NanoTrasen Representative, if there is one, is extremely useful.
- Hold Hearings and Trials - A small part of your job. If you do not feel as though you have sufficient evidence to charge or release a prisoner, it can sometimes be helpful to call one of these. Do keep in mind, however, this only applies to Capital Crimes, so no matter how much someone complains, you cannot hold a trial for someone who's been sentenced to 15 minutes for attacking an officer. See Legal Standard Operating Procedure for information on how to run a trial.
Handling an Investigation
You have access to command comms, and access to the bridge and general command areas, however, your main area of operation is the Brig. If there are no Internal Affairs Agents available, or if you find yourself unable to trust their competence, it falls to you to investigate cases worthy of your attention. These would be situations where the evidence provided is circumstantial and/or sketchy, or particularly complex cases involving members of Command and/or Security.
Always remember that you're supposed to be an unbiased observer. Your job is to uphold Space Law, not to pursue personal vendettas and, as such, gathering relevant information should be the top priority.
Speak to everyone involved and get their side of the story. Cross-check the facts and see how they line up with one another, and other potential eyewitness testimony. See what can be considered permissible, and what is unforgivable. Apply some context as well; some situations are perfectly excusable if the context is just right (for instance, the Head of Security leaving someone bucklecuffed in Processing because the Bridge was invaded by a rogue borg).
If there is forensic evidence, seek to acquire a copy of it. Detectives and Coroners are especially useful in this particular point of the investigation, assuming they're half-competent.
After you've gathered all the relevant data and made sure that you knew what happened, you have two choices:
1) Pass down a verdict yourself. As the ultimate authority on Space Law, your word is above everyone else's when it comes to sentencing. By definition, it should also be the most correct.
2) Contact Central Command. You have your very own fax machine, and if you can't decide on your own, send over all relevant information and wait for the Trurl to get off its lazy bottom.
Supervising your starched subjects
Internal Affairs Agents are your direct underlings. Whatever they call themselves, Public Defenders, Lawyers or Internal Affairs Agents, their duties are all the same and you are there to guide them. Do note that they are NanoTrasen Agents in their own right so you shouldn't micromanage their investigations and eavesdrop on their conversations with defendants or the accused whether they're preparing for a court case or conducting a routine civil affair. However, you will often be the first port of call for anybody with a grievance and it is from you that many Agents will likely get their jobs.
You will direct Internal Affairs to cases whether it's a complex case involving the Captain, Head of Security, Head of Personnel and a boatload of Space Law/SOP violations or the Clown demanding representation whilst in the brig for 5 minutes. That is their entire purpose; you shouldn't be concerning yourself with investigating everything when you have competent underlings to do it for you.
You are also in charge of ensuring Internal Affairs' quality, and it is within your power to hire and fire Agents at will, to preserve the moral integrity and functioning of your department.
Also, Internal Affairs should present their resolved cases and judgements to you. Check for evidence, testimony, make sure you understand the full facts of the case. Do not allow them to fax anything or demand anything until you are satisfied they've done their due diligence in advising someone's demotion or championing someone's evidence.
Remember, you're looking for a REASONABLE doubt. You will never be 100% someone has committed a crime, but if enough evidence has been presented where it would be unreasonable to assume another verdict you may feel comfortable sentencing.
Before we begin, there is one thing you should be perfectly aware of:
You have the final say on all sentencing. You even override the Captain.
This is a responsibility, not a perk, and the main reason this job has a 100 hour security lock on it. You are here to ensure fast, accurate JUSTICE. You are not to deliberately hamper Security out of spite, or abuse your authority to show everybody what a boss you are.
Generally, you should only concern yourself with sentences over 20 minutes. Security tends to be hectic in terms of record-keeping, so ask around about what the person did so they don't get charged with Assault of an Officer and Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Needless to say, this requires full knowledge of Space Law and Crime Stacking.
For example, a prisoner charged with Assault, Breaking and Entering and Resisting Arrest can be found to have merely walked into Chemistry when the door was open, then disarmed the Chemist a couple of times before running off. Resisting Arrest has a nasty tendency to be tacked onto every other sentence, regardless of what happened, so make sure you know exactly what happened. In this case, a potential 25-minute sentence can probably be reduced to merely 5, for Trespassing.
When Security does get the charges aligned correctly with what the suspect is accused of doing, and the charge exceeds 20 minutes, it becomes more important for you to ascertain whether Security can prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether they did it. Typically you foist this job on your IA subordinates, but if you're short on underlings, or they happen to be unreliable, you can look into it yourself. This is typically resolved quite quickly and without much need for a prolonged investigation. Asking the Officer what happened, talking to the accused and PDAing any witnesses may be all you need to feel comfortable keeping someone in the brig. Most of the time, however, you should trust in the judgement of the Security Team. Never a bad idea to keep an eye out, however.
However, when the evidence is murky, witness testimonies are conflicting and the stakes are high, you may be forced to call...
Round-Start antagonists are ineligible to be be matched to the job of Magistrate.
Note that if you are selected as antag, but your character's job preferences are set such that the round is unable to match you to any available non-mindshielded job, you will be instead be returned to the lobby, and the antag role will be assigned to another player.
As a mindshielded crew member, you cannot be converted into an antagonist through thralling, unless you have lost your mindshield implant, either to cloning or surgical removal. If, however, you are somehow unshielded, thralled, and then re-implanted with a mindshield, you will remain thralled.
Put on your wig, dear Judge. It's time to deal with boredom.
Despite what this entire article might have you believe, most of your time will be spent trying to kill off boredom. Most crimes tend to be very open-and-shut, and even Capital Sentences rarely have any ambiguity worth looking into for more than 5 minutes. As such, and since holding audits and investigating complaints isn't exactly your job, a lot of your shifts will be filled with nothing but spare time.
If this happens, do remember that you are a respected Judge sent over by Central Command itself. As such, running around piss drunk and banging your gavel all around the station, while amusing, is hardly befitting of your character. Try to be an active voice in Command Comms, helping to deal with issues in other Departments. While not exactly your field of operations, helping to enforce Standard Operating Procedure may also be a worthy use of your time.
When handling Space Law and Security, heed the following words: you are meant to be the one person who can always be relied on.
What this means is, regardless of how chaotic Security is, you are meant to act as a consummate professional. Try not to engage in shouting matches with everyone who disagrees with you (especially not if they're wrong anyway). Maintain a cordial tone, and always strive to take the high road. You are a Magistrate, and Central Command expects you to act like one. Maintain a high level of professionalism and work ethic and, above all, remain unbiased. When all else fails, you are the One Sane Person. Do not disappoint.