Is there any mechanism for dealing with Tribunal cases where "the facts of a case" are simply unclear? For example, if someone prosecutes a magus based on descent from a Marched magus, inferring it from the presence of Diedne Magic, and the defendant responds that he doesn't know his lineage back that far but there's other possible ways to get that Virtue.
So, a case is brought to trial Tribunal where the facts of the matter are disputable (by magi not involved with the case; the magi of the case might dispute it for years) or simply vague.
Magus Donn is accused, by Magus Vagus, of descent from Diedne, but the evidence is murky (and, I'd argue, this is not a crime).
The presiding quaesitor should object to the case being presented. Possibly Vagus presses on.
Depending on the Tribunal, the Praeco may have the power to silence Vagus.
The other magi may move to table the discussion until Vagus has a coherent case. One hopes so.
If there has been a trial and punishment, and the facts of the case are discovered (by some enterprising,plucky, and justice-minded young mage, perhaps) to be shaky or false, or a mix of qualities, it depends on the outcome. Let us say Magus Donn is found guilty of being of Diedne descent - what was the punishment?
Vis fines can be returned; time of service can be compensated through vis or other material goods; the time and effort of creating a magic item, including a talisman can also be recovered; apprentices might be returned to the original master; loss of a familiar is harder to compensate; death as a result of an improper prosecution...
What I meant was: Vagus declares that Donn must have Diedne descent. Donn argues that he does not necessarily have Diedne descent. The two positions are irreconcilable.
Per HoH:TL, Tribunal is not allowed to judge the veracity of these statements in the first place. "Is he or is he not a Diedne" must be brought to Tribunal already solved. (That said, your statement indicates that an intelligent Presiding Quaesitor would, after interviewing both under truth-spell, tell the prosecutor to table it until he finds proof positive rather than logical inference.)
As for having Diedne lineage, while it arguably isn't and shouldn't be a crime (I'd look to the specific wording of the Wizard's March against House Diedne and the grounds upon which it was renounced), the Corebook does indicate that it's a Dark Secret that must be hidden from the Order of Hermes at large, so I assume that it means you're Quaesitor-bait. Maybe the actual penalty is that House Tremere will declare a House-wide permanent Wizard's War against you and your sodales instead, of course.
The important fact to remember is that the entire House Diedne was renounced and still is since many of them retreated to Faerie or the magic realms. The Order, and House Tremere in particular, is vigilant against the return of House Diedne. I seriously believe that anyone proven to have the lineage of Diedne would have be executed immediately, or if not executed have about 98 declarations of Wizard's War by members of House Tremere.
I agree with Jonathan. Also, the chances of a case like this getting as far as Tribunal is unlikely, as there are plenty of magi around, like the Tremere, who would take to Wizard's War if a rumor like that were to reach their ears.
Diedne descent may be a social horror, I'll admit; this may lead to Wizard's War. There may be Diedne who were secretly adopted into other Houses. Why, half of Jerbiton or Merinita might be secretly Diedne descendants.
So any mutually exclusive declarations of fact, of import to a Tribunal? Bring me evidence; present it. Not all magi are rational and reasoned, but many are, at least to some extent.
So Vagus declares that Donn must have Diedne descent (presumably because Donn has This Power or has This Virtue). Donn says this does not have to be the case.
The Tribunal may not rule on veracity, but a magus (and therefore magi) must judge a case wisely and decide who has the better argument. It may be that This Virtue, or whatever the telling matter is, came from some other source.
I note that Donn has not presented any refutation; he's just contradicted Vagus. Presenting his lineage would be better; presenting an example of a magus or hedge tradition from well outside Diedne territories who has the virtue or whatever would also be better.
This is not the Church or noble court, where an accusation and a claim that it Must Be So has great weight. Have the facts been settled? Do two quaesitores make contrary claims? Do attesting magi contradict each other?
Also, let me point out that truth spells are useless as the question is put - both magi can honestly assert that this is his opinion. On the other hand, has no one asked Donn if he is now or ever has been a descendant of House Diedne?
I've been needing to review Quaesitorial process anyway. HoH:TL pp. 56-59.
Vagus accuses Donn of Diedne descent. Vagus is the prosecuting principle; Donn the defendant.
Presumably the case is properly published and not transferred.
Before the main Tribunal, a private hearing is held, where Vagus presents his witnesses. If he has some, they testify. Donn defends himself, and his witnesses testify. In this case, I'm not aware of any. If there are contradictions of testimony, the presiding quaesitor of the private hearing is to resolve them. The quaesitor also advises the principals as to who has the stronger legal case. Who this is in this case depends on factors outside of my grasp.
Personally, I think they both have weak cases. If Vagus had proof, he would argue that I have found the following evidence that Donn is a Diedne, not It follows from this observation that Donn is a Diedne. Donn is saying Well, that's not necessarily so, which admits that it may be the case, not That is a foul and base lie!
Let's say Vagus sticks to his guns and so does Donn. It goes to the Public Tribunal. Confronted with this little mess, I suspect the vote would go to whoever has the better presentation and reputation - but the Praeco might very well silence the matter, or the Chief Quaesitor may suspend the case for further investigation. That may be pointless, depending on the local Tribunal. The public accusation may get Donn killed.
Which might be what Vagus wanted all along.
I thought that facts had nothing to do with medieval tribunals. As long as you can bring 3 magi (or other men of honor) that swear that the accused could not have done that, you're home free.
No, facts are, agreed upon at the private hearing. If the case moves forward to a Tribunal, then all the facts that are agreed to are published. If there is a fact in dispute, it can't be published. The defendant does have a right to decline to be put under Intellego Mentem effects to ascertain the truth, and that is a fact, too.
No, Tribunals test legal merits. Is what they did a crime, based on some principle? That's the question that is asked...
JL is correct: for this to be a tribunal hearing, the question is not 'did he do it?' but is 'was what he did a crime?'
This requires that the tribunal court know exactly what was or what was not done.
Vargus does not have a case. He suspects Donn of being a descendant of House Diedne, but he has no proof; he only has inference. He doesn't have enough to build a case, so there's no tribunal hearing. The tribunal's response should be: go away, come back when you have proof.
If Vargus doesn't have proof and knows he can't get it, but he suspects Donn of something foul, then the Code has provision to handle this. It's called Wizard's War.
If Vargus doesn't think he can prosecute a Wizard's War successfully his best bet is to rally some allies against Donn. This is probably best done at tribunal simply because there's wizards there, but not as something raised as an official tribunal agenda item.
So from a story perspective there's definitely something that can happen at Tribunal. It just won't be a courtroom drama.
"Are you now or have you ever been a member of House Diedne? Are you a Diedne sympathizer"
Put them to those questions under Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie. A "Yes" to either one will get the guy killed one way or another. Confirmed truthful "No" answers should shake the accusations (for a little while).
If I were playing a Tremere or Flambeau in that story, I might figure it is better to be safe than sorry and just WW the guy. And likely others will follow behind me should I fall.
He cannot be compelled to submit to Frosty Breath. Of course, only the guilty have something to hide... Or so the Quaesitor on a witch hunt would say... As if he refused submitting an answer to the question under Frosty Breath, that is a fact that would be published at Tribunal, if it went that far. A Presiding Quaesitor would probably push for the prosecuting Quaesitor to gather more evidence...
Ok, thank you. So disputing a fact is the best way to avoid the case moving forward.
Probably should have said facts are agreed to or adjudicated by the Presiding Quaesitor. I suppose some facts might not make it if they are disputed and can't be verified by Truth magic. But for the case of accusing someone of being a member of House Diedne, if they say no, and don't submit to truth magic, there isn't any way to ascertain the troth.
Yeah. The fact pattern I was looking at is someone who did say under truth-spell, "I am not and have never been a Diedne," but, of course, who has Diedne Magic in his lineage, where the original source is unclear.
Though I suppose in this case, whether that person was a Diedne would be a question of law rather than fact, and thus subject to Tribunal.
This is kinda silly. It's like saying "I am not and have never been Chinese" when you're American-born.
In fact, how can you even know that magi have a specific Virtue? Those are only artifacts of the game mechanic and do not represent anything "game-life". Are you going to force someone to cast a spontaneous spelland say: "boy! you couldn't have rolled a 1 here so you must be doubling your lowest Art", or are you going to detect that someone did not get tired after casting a few spells?
"I am a proud member of House Tytalus" is the only answer you should get.
I don't know what you are trying to pull from that story.