The City-State – Law

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

“There is a saying on Gor that the laws of a city extend no further than its walls.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.50

This is not fully accurate as each city does extend its hegemony over a certain territory outside their city walls. The laws of one city generally do not extend to the jurisdiction of another city. For example, your own city will provide you protection against creditors fom another city.

Tarn, tharlarion or infantry patrols often monitor the tenuous borders of a city’s claimed territory and either question, detain or kill non-citizens trying to enter their lands. Goreans are generally xenophobic and in fact the Gorean word for “stranger” is the same word as the one for “enemy.” Context is used to differentiate between the two terms. 

“Goreans are not unaware that there may exist such things as familiar enemies and friendly strangers.”

Savages of Gor, p.242

Trying to enter a city, without specific permission, is often considered a capital crime, punishable by impalement. Guards monitor the various gates into the cities and often question intended visitors. In some cities, a citizens approaching his own city may make a hand gesture, a “sign” of the city. It seems likely that this “sign” is only known to citizens. 

There are two primary court systems in the cities of Gor, that of the civil government and that of the Initiate Caste. Each of these court systems possesses their own buildings to handle their legal matters, such as a Cylinder of Justice. The areas of their jurisdiction are sometimes vague though the Initiates claim supreme authority in all matters.

The amount of actual involvement of the Initiates in each city will vary depending on the Caste’s power in that specific city. They obviously have a stronger hold in some areas than others. For the most part, they will definitely claim jurisdiction in any religious related matter. They will ignore petty matters that they feel are beneath their worry. 

In a city, you are most likely to encounter the legal officials of the civil government, be it the forces of the Ubar or Administrator. These legal officials are commonly referred to as magistrates and there are a variety of different types of magistrates. As legal matters appear to fall under the purview of the Scribe Caste, lawyers being a subcaste of the Scribe Caste, it seems likely that most magistrates also belong to the Scribe Caste.

Magistrates often wear special robes and fillets, ribbons, to denote their office. They may also carry a wand of their office and some of those wands may carry concealed blades. Some of the different types of magistrates on Gor include aediles, archons, praetors, prefects and prefects. These terms are ancient Greek or Roman terms though their meanings have changed some on Gor.

Executioners are another type of magistrate and other types may exist as well. The books do not explicitly describe the duties or differences between most of these magistrate types. Magistrates do appear to be able to act as ex officio witnesses who can certify the legality of certain matters. They also appear able to act as judge and jury in certain matters as well. 

Merchant law is the only common law that often extends among many different cities. This permits commerce to exist much more easily on Gor. There are even Merchant magistrates who administer and enforce Merchant law.

These magistrates belong to the Merchant Caste and not the Scribe Caste. They wear white robes, trimmed with gold and purple. Merchant law does not cover all aspects of commerce. For example, patents and copyrights only exist on a city level and do not extend to other cities. Thus, many manufacturers, writers, and other creators may keep their materials in code to prevent theft and copying. 

For more information on the law, see Scroll #2, Laws and Legal Principles.

Back to the City-State Organisation in Gor

Written by Ubar Luther in

©2020 by Azrael Phoenix

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