The Justice Department

(excerpt from the Judge Dredd core rules, pages 55-56)

The Justice Department places order and justice ahead of liberal concerns. Democracy, in as far as certain civilian positions are democratically elected, is at best tolerated and, at worst, crushed if it even remotely threatens the order of the city. Mega-City One citizens have few rights and lead essentially drab, meaningless lives that are blighted by mass unemployment, boredom and the bewildering pace of 22nd Century living. Citizens are selfish, capricious, uncaring about others and largely ignorant of anything but their immediate concerns.

Mega city one justice department from dredd 2012

Without the means to impose law and order immediately and ruthlessly, Mega-City One would descend rapidly into anarchy – as amply demonstrated by the Block Mania started by the Sov Block Judges that heralded the Apocalypse War. Given even the remotest chance, Mega-City One citizens resort to their base instincts and only the Judges keep them from destroying themselves.

In such a vast metropolis – Mega-City One has a population of around 400 million – the only way to maintain order is to deliver justice and punishment swiftly and to maximum effect. A traditional court system would be unable to cope with the sheer weight of crime that would be forced through its apparatus and the delivery of a sentence at the point of a crime sends out a clear message and deterrent to other, would-be law breakers. Without the Justice Department and
the Judges, crime would be at a vastly higher rate, quickly leading to a complete and utter social meltdown.

The Justice Department maintains control through vast resources. It is in control of the city’s budget, in control of its information systems and takes the crucial decisions relating to the city’s administration. The Judges who patrol the streets are the public face of the Justice Department but the organisation is immense and there is almost no area of Mega-City One’s operation that the Justice Department does not influence or control outright.

This means that the Justice Department is supported by a huge civilian and robot infrastructure that is responsible for certain, non-judicial, administrative and operational tasks. The Justice Department has a dedicated civil service in addition to the army of Judges and specialist teams who ensure that the citizens of Mega-City One are kept in their place. This administrative function is largely invisible to the populace of the city and, indeed, to the
Judges who rely on its support. But without it, the Justice Department would be incapable of functioning with the ruthless efficiency it displays.

Origins of the Justice Department

As the Mega-City gained momentum, the judicial system lost it. Due Process was too slow, too inflexible and woefully under-equipped to cope with the social conditions of Mega-City One.
If the justice process was too slow, then the sentences it passed on those who broke the law were meaningless. Social liberalism and the prevailing attitude of rehabilitating, rather
than punishing, had created a system where criminals readily sneered at the idea of justice. And, in the ever-expanding warrens of the city, it was increasingly easy for criminals to
perpetrate their activities without fear of apprehension.

250px chief judge fargo2Eustace Fargo, a presiding judge of the old United States Supreme Court, saw the need for a radical new direction. Disillusioned with the crumbling infrastructure of Due Process, Fargo suggested a new way: judges moved out of the courtrooms and onto the streets, given the power and means to apprehend criminals and sentence them at the point of the crime, removing weeks, months and sometimes years, from the process that had underpinned American society since before the Declaration of Independence. The old system was fair and just; but society, through the Mega Cities, had out-run its reach. Between 2025 and 2027 the east coast of America was rocked by uncontrollable gang warfare. By this time Fargo had been appointed by Congress to the position of Government Special Prosecutor for Street Crime and under his regime the gang eaders and major perpetrators of anarchy were brought to justice. But the justice system was too slow and open to intimidation: every single defendant walked free. The beleaguered citizens saw the need for instant justice even though some in government opposed it. When President Gurney was swept back into office on a ticket of implementing Fargo’s ‘New Deal’ for justice, the people had signalled their willingness to see justice being brought to bear in a new way. Under Fargo’s direction the first academies to train judges in the new form of justice were established but it would be 2030 before the remnants of the old judicial system would be swept away. The Judges were not universally popular and nor were they immune from making mistakes; but with brutal efficiency the gang wars were halted, those responsible incarcerated without having the time or opportunity to intimidate juries and, for the first time in decades, the war against crime looked like it could be won.

Fargo’s system flourished under his careful eye. Judges were trained to be incorruptible and this included a monastic approach to their personal lives, controlling normal human urges so that they would be immune from the temptations of both cash and flesh. Regrettably, Fargo, being only too human, was caught in flagrante with Sequenta Tells, the Vice Chair of the Commission for Legal Reform. This discovery would be ruinous for the justice system and Fargo knew it:
he took the honourable approach of putting a bullet through his head. This attempt at suicide did not kill Fargo, instead causing dreadful brain damage, but Justice Department could not afford for the world to know the truth. So, news of Fargo’s death was broadcast, the story being that he was the victim of a drive-by shooting whilst on duty on the streets. Fargo’s attempted suicide and brain damage was made a complete secret, even from the president; only the most senior members of the Justice Department – Solomon, Goodman, Judd and others – knew the truth and they were sworn to secrecy.

The Justice Department

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