CoJ Case 055

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Chamber of Justice
Cases


DB vs Darth Vexatus was the fifty-fifth case tried by the Chamber of Justice. The sitting Justicar was Jac Cotelin, the Left Hand of Justice was Sith Bloodfyre, and the Right Hand of Justice was Montresor.

Basic Case Information

Defendants Name

Charges

  • Count 1 - Harassment - Plea of guilty

Verdict

  • GUILTY

Sentence

  • Letter of Reprimand
  • Two-grade demotion to Elder 1
  • Loss of Sith Lord title & "Darth" name honorary

Related News Posts

Chamber of Justice - Verdicts for Cases 0055 - DB v. Darth Vexatus Posted in DJB News by Grand Master Jac Cotelin on 9/23/2016 @ 5:35pm

Members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood -

The Chamber of Justice has convened and issued a verdict in the pending case of DB v. Darth Vexatus. The case involved a single charge of harassment. The Chamber has issued a detailed verdict and Justicar Opinion for the case which can be found in the PDF files linked below. Please note that the written opinion is generally found on the second page of the following documents, after announcement of the verdict.

The verdict was as follows:

Case #055 - DB v. Darth Vexatus - Opinion PDF

  • Count 1 - Harassment - Plea of Guilty
  • Verdict - GUILTY
  • Punishment - Two-grade demotion to Elder 1; loss of Sith Lord title & "Darth" name honorary; Letter of Reprimand

Signed and sealed in Justice,

Jac Ae-Sequiera Cotelin

Justicar and High Protector of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood

Justicar's Opinion

Facts:

Xia Long and Vexatus had long been friends. For reasons that are irrelevant to this opinion, the friendship devolved to the point where Xia Long sought to eliminate all communication with Vexatus. Despite the efforts of Xia Long to avoid Vexatus, he persisted in communications, including the recording of a video that he sent to her, which prompted her first complaint to the Justicar.

On January 24, 2016, in my capacity as Justicar, at Xia Long’s request, I sent Vexatus an email indicating that he was to refrain from contacting Xia Long. The Grand Master also issued a similar warning. In January there was no official CoJ complaint, but Vexatus acknowledged the warnings and indicated that he would cease communication with Xia Long thereafter.

On or about August 2, 2016, Xia Long received a package at her real work address from Vexatus. The package contained prints of an artist commission that Vexatus and Xia Long had previously worked on (contained in a purple card adorned with a flower), a purse in the shape of a creature, and a handwritten letter. The letter, written in colorful writing, referenced Vexatus and Xia Long being friends until they “are old and grey.” The receipt of the package tormented Xia Long, precipitating the filing of a complaint against Vexatus.

During the course of the case, Vexatus again contacted Xia Long through email, despite renewed indications from Xia Long that all that she wanted was to be left alone.

After long discussions of this matter with me and the Left Hand, Vexatus decided to plead guilty. Vexatus specifically claims that he never intended to harass Xia Long, but acknowledged that it is the effect on the victim that matters, not the intent of the perpetrator. As a result, he confirmed his guilty plea.

Analysis

This has been an incredibly difficult case for multiple reasons. The case has dealt with two well­known and respected elders in the club that had a long­standing friendship; it crosses over into real life areas; it involves privacy concerns; and it hits a mark with me personally, having known both of these members for many years. I take no pleasure in issuing this verdict, but believe that it is the right outcome in this case.

Taking the issues one step at a time, I will first address the efficacy of the Chamber of Justice handling matters of this sort. The Dark Council, and therefore the Chamber of Justice, has always taken very seriously its role in keeping members safe from harassment and other issues. Generally in private, we have dealt with many issues where members that were previously in relationships have had to be separated, or have issued warnings to members that were crossing the bounds of decency. Most issues do not persist. This case was a first for me where a member complained of persistent unwanted contact to the point where a CoJ intervention was required.

The question has been presented during the course of our deliberations as to what the CoJ’s role and impact is on this type of conflict. In the end, what can the CoJ do if a member engages in harassment, especially if a member is indifferent to CoJ punishments? The answer is clear but limited: we can affect the person’s membership in this club, and to the extent that is a deterrent from future action, it is the best we can do. Moreover, I think we can, during the course of a case, help the defendant understand his actions and why they are wrong. I think we served that function here.

Because this case spilled into the DB on the basis of real world contact between the parties, the issues also needs to be addressed as to whether it is appropriate to address real world contact in the context of the CoJ. The Covenant clearly states that it covers real world harassment in addition to online harassment. In addition, as stated above, to the extent possible, if punishments here can deter a person from taking real world action, we will always endeavor to do what we can, even if it is limited. We are no substitute for real world authorities, but we are also not going to tolerate an artificial line that says we have no authority to act simply because a member contacts another member in a harassing manner outside typical DB communication channels. That is to say, the authority of the Covenant is correctly interpreted to allow the CoJ to punish a member for “real life harassment” of another member.

It was clear from the start of discussions with Vexatus that he did not comprehend the effect that his actions had on Xia Long. He never intended to harass her, instead he had hoped that if only they could talk, the friendship could be salvaged. But to Xia Long, there was nothing to salvage, nor did she want it. She wanted no contact whatsoever, and that was what Vexatus was asked to do. He not only contacted her, but he did so in a manner that was beyond the pale. What he thought was a nice gesture, to each independent third party that looked at it and to Xia Long, was an overreach that raised serious concerns of what might come next.

The standard of harassment in the Brotherhood is that the action must offend a person of reasonable sensibilities. Here, the unwanted contact would shock a person of normal sensibilities. Xia Long did not overreact. It is no matter that Vexatus did not intend his actions to harm Xia Long. What matters is that the actions did harm Xia Long. The result is harassment through and through.

A couple additional notes. I was asked specifically by Vexatus to keep private many of the details of the facts of this case. The concern was that having these details publicized would harm Xia Long. I struggled a long time with this request, but in the end have decided that the facts as stated here must be made public. These facts are not all of them that have been disclosed to me, but only the ones central to this opinion. Xia Long has nothing to be ashamed of in coming to the CoJ in this matter, and the fact that the public knows of the case is not prejudicial to her. Indeed, she will be linked to this case and the fact that Vexatus harassed her, but that is a necessity when a case comes to the CoJ and it will hopefully assist others in not hesitating to come to us for help. There are no private CoJ cases. In fact, one of the reasons that we take the time to write out a Justicar’s opinion is to help the rest of the DB learn from the mistakes of others and to act as a deterrent for future conduct.

As to the punishment itself, it is harsh. The CoJ will not allow for these types of actions from members, especially after a member has been warned to not engage in this behavior. To be sure, I have gone back and forth as to whether Vexatus deserved to remain an elder; but in the end it was his recognition of his wrongdoing that saved his elder status. When he contacted Xia Long during the course of the case, he almost guaranteed a tougher punishment, but he continued to discuss the case with us and eventually saw the harassment from Xia Long’s perspective. I give him the benefit of doubt that he never intended his actions to cause harm, and that he won’t do this again. But the actions in a vacuum still deserve an objective punishment, and the demotions and loss of honorary title here are reasonable for this case.

One thing to note about this matter is that Vexatus was only charged with harassment; he was not charged for the failure to follow the commands of the Grand Master and me in relation to not contacting Xia Long. That is not to say the failure to follow commands has not been taken into account with the punishment. Indeed, it has. An elder especially must have the appropriate respect for our command structure to follow clearly­documented orders. The fact that we were ignored(twice) meant that the action was not a mere mistake; Vexatus had an agenda in contacting Xia Long, and while he didn’t intend harassment, he knew that he was breaking a command. That was an aggravating factor that helps lead to a two­level elder demotion and the loss of his Sith Lord title.

I do not believe it is necessary to place Vexatus on probation. The purpose of probation is generally to put the punishment into effect. It has more of a purpose when it is used to keep a member from quickly regaining journeyman ranks that have been lost, which defeats the purpose of the demotion. Here, there is no way that Vexatus will be re­earning the lost ranks in the standard probation times, and I trust that the Master at Arms can watch for any awards that might go against the grain of this opinion.

Finally, I do not wish to see Vexatus leave the club or otherwise be shunned by members not involved in this dispute. He made a terrible mistake, and he is paying the price by losing recognition of years of work put into this club. As I have tried to stress in the past, I hope the DB continues to welcome his activity, so long as he refrains from repeating his activities here.

Based on the foregoing and the defendant’s plea, Vexatus is GUILTY of harassment. The Right Hand of Justice and Master at Arms are directed to carry out the punishment as described above.

Signed and sealed in Justice,

Jac Ae-Sequiera Cotelin

Justicar and High Protector of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood