Battlestar Galactica: How should Baltar's trial work?

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the first session of the Presidential Commission on Crimes Against Humanity. You have all been selected to serve as Commissioners based upon your knowledge of Colonial criminal law (federal or planetary), philosophy, or the current logistical/security needs of the Colonial Fleet. Although our work is technically advisory, it will certainly weigh heavily in the coming debates. As your Chairman, the President has asked me to convey her personal thanks to you for your willingness to assist in resolving the difficult legal questions we now face.

The President has also requested that we consider, as the first item on our agenda, the upcoming trial of Doctor Gaius Baltar. Unless there is some suggestion, we’ll begin there. The questions we must resolve are as follows:

1.) What crime or crimes should Dr. Baltar be charged with? Warrantless detentions were employed during the first Roslin Administration, both by the President and military authorities. The same cannot be said of executions, but counsel for Dr. Baltar is likely to argue that this set a precedent that the President has had extraordinary emergency powers since the flight from the Colonies. Might Baltar’s “alliance” with the Cylons, while thoroughly abhorrent, have technically been within the limits of Presidential power established in the first Roslin administration?

2.) Should Dr. Baltar have access to all the evidence to be presented against him? Should his lawyer? Admiral Adama has expressed a concern that this could be a security risk. Not only has Baltar been accused of collaborating with the Cylons, but he has a demonstrated capacity to smuggle information out of his cell to the Colonial Fleet at large. However, our system of justice has traditionally allowed the defendant to hear the evidence against him. Where shall we draw the line?

3.) Who will be the trier of fact? Is this trial to be conducted before a jury, a judge, or a judicial tribunal?

4.) Should the testimony of Cylon witnesses be admissible?

5.) Will the trial be open to the public? Broadcast on the talk wireless?

I do not pretend, of course, that these are the only questions we will face in the days ahead, but I hope they will serve as a useful starting point. I now open the floor to discussion.

bangs gavel

Frak the trial. Dump him out an airlock and be done with it. He’s a traitor and deserves a traitor’s death.

Silenus, that may be, but the President has determined that Dr. Baltar will have a fair trial. It is our duty, sir, to determine how that can best be accomplished.

Col Tighe, where’s you eye?
Well, heck, let’s send Mr. Baltar ouside to look for it.

I say we put Sheriff Cobb in charge of it:

“We’re going to give you a fair trial, followed by a first-class hanging.”

  1. As the Cylon attack on the Colonies, and subsequent harrying of the fleet, constitutes a de facto declaration of war upon them by the Cylons, it is the opinion of this commissioner that Baltar’s alliance with the Cylon government constitutes an act of treason under the Articles of Colonization. While it is well within the powers of the president to make treaties and engage in diplomatic negotiations on behalf of the colonies, the Quorum of Twelve was operative at the time of the occupation and did not elect to cancel the state of war. Baltar’s collusion with the Cylons, therefore, can be seen as providing material aid and comfort to enemies of the Colonies. His further collusion with the Cylons after the evacuation of New Caprica, and his removal from the office of President, should also be considered in this light.

  2. This commissioner is of the opinion that the former president is more than likely already fully aware of any potentially sensitive evidence that may be used against him in the trial, and that any potential harm that could be done by revealing it to him, has already been done during the occupation and during his time spent aboard the Cylon flagship.

  3. While trial by jury is one of the most sacred rights all citizens of the colonies are entitled to, it may prove unfeasible to find twelve impartial jurors among the members of the fleet. Would it be feasible to limit the jury pool to those who were not living on New Caprica during the occupation?

  4. There are, at present, two known Cylons within the fleet: Lt. Sharon Agathon and the Cylon known as “Caprica Six”. While Lt. Agathon is a commissioned officer of the Colonial fleet and is held in high confidence by the Admiral and the President, she has little firsthand knowledge of Baltar’s actions on New Caprica and would not likely have any testimony of importance to contribute. Caprica Six, on the other hand, was allegedly part of the inner circle of Cylons with whom Baltar worked, both on New Caprica and aboard the Cylon flagship. Her testimony could potentially be invaluable to the prosecution; however, as she is not a Colonial citizen nor, in the strictest sense, a human being, there may be potential legal complications regarding her ability to testify in a criminal trial. Caprica Six has indicated her willingness to provide honest testimony, but a further review of Colonial law may be necessary before allowing her to take the stand.

  5. As the chairman has stated, evidence may be delivered during the trial that is of a sensitive nature or which may in the wrong hands endanger the security of the fleet. While the defendent is likely aware of this information, the public is not. Furthermore, it is not known whether any humanoid Cylons not yet known to the fleet - the so-called “final five” - may still be operating within the fleet, and if so, live transmission of the trial and dissemination of said evidence may play right into the Cylon agenda furthermore to the potential damage to public confidence. This commissioner suggests that expurgated transcripts and audio recordings be made available to the public on a daily basis, edited in such a way as to keep the record of the proceedings intact to the maximum possible degree without divulging information of a potentially sensitive nature.

1.) What crime or crimes should Dr. Baltar be charged with?
The crime of making this season dreadfully boring.

2.) However, our system of justice has traditionally allowed the defendant to hear the evidence against him. Where shall we draw the line?
The line shall be drawn at the boundary between soap-opera and science fiction.

3.) Who will be the trier of fact? Is this trial to be conducted before a jury, a judge, or a judicial tribunal?
A big-ass space battle, with Raiders and Vipers going head to head, shall be the jury.

4.) Should the testimony of Cylon witnesses be admissible?
Only toasters, as the meatbags are boring and preachy

5.) Will the trial be open to the public? Broadcast on the talk wireless?
If it’s as dull as I fear it will be, the trial will be handled behind closed doors while the rest of us watch some explosions

And I’ll toss in an extra cubit or two if, at any time, a Cylon says “By your command”

Traitor’s a traitor!

Commissioner Smapti, I applaud your thoughtful analysis. However, I would respectfully point out that banning “New Capricans” from the jury pool would raise serious political problems. We’ve already seen some signs of division between those in the military who “retired” to New Caprica and those who remained aboard Galactica during the Cylon Occupation. We should think twice before exacerbating these tensions.

A note, ladies and gentlemen. We are here to serve our government, at the request of the President herself. It would probably be desirable for us to maintain a degree of decorum.

While I respect the chairman’s desire to avoid provoking further acrimony between those who lived under the occupation and those who did not, I would like to remind the chairman that it is critical that the former president’s trial, first and foremost, be fair. It will be necessary to exclude, if not the entire New Caprican population, a large number of them from the jury pool as their experiences during the occupation may have rendered them emotionally incapable of impartially considering the evidence for and against the defendant’s guilt. I suggest, therefore, that the following persons be removed from consideration from the jury pool;

-Those imprisoned for political crimes, or as members of the resistance or accessories thereunto, during the occupation
-Members of the New Caprica Police during the occupation
-Members of the president’s staff during the occupation
-President Roslyn and her staff
-The Vice President and the Quorum of Twelve (We may see some opposition from Vice President Zarek on this one)
-Officers of the Colonial fleet
-The president and senior officers of the Colonial Workers Alliance

I’m not sure this can be called collusion, as Dr. Baltar, acting as the President on behalf of the 12 colonies, offered an unconditional surrender. He could be accused by the Cylons of collusion with the New Caprican resistance in his efforts to cover up a major information leak, as evidenced by the actions of Felix Geata and Chief Tyrol.

His time spent on the Cylon baseship should be considered imprisonment. He was tortured and questioned during his stay, and he made an attempt to sabotage the Cylon concerns regarding the eye of Jupiter. In fact, wasn’t he found amid the bodies of 2 cylons? How did they die? I submit that it was Baltar that was directly responsible for their deaths and as a result, prevented the Cylons from discovering any more information regarding the location of Earth.

He deserves his trail, and he deserves to be heard.

I do not believe, Commissioner Polley, that we are here to discuss Dr. Baltar’s guilt or innocence, but rather on what charges he may potentially be tried. The Articles of Colonization state that treaties made by the president are subject to ratification by the Quorum; if Baltar attempted to pursue this, no record of it has survived the evacuation. As to his stay on the Cylon flagship, the fact that the Cylon fleet located the Eye of Jupiter at all could be considered prima facie evidence that Baltar provided them with information as to its whereabouts; coercion or not, providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the Colonies is treason and should be tried accordingly. If Baltar made an effort to hamper the Cylon search for Earth, he may present that argument as a mitigating circumstance at his trial.

Spoiler thread title.

While I am certainly engaged in the topics raised thus far, and I will be following closely the reasoned debate of my learned colleagues, I wish to place on the table for consideration an additional item, to wit, that, given the known danger represented by Cylons, individually and collectively, including a specific instance of a Cylon engaging in a suicide attack using explosives, we should make it a requirement that any Cylons wishing to participate in the proceedings, whether as a witness or in any other capacity, must be naked.

Do I have a second?

Seconded, with an exceptionary clause for Brother Cavill.

After due consideration, I find myself in agreement with my esteemed collegue, carnivorousplant, and move that we adjourn to the airlock forthwith so that Mr. Baltar may find said eye.

The remainder of the agenda can be referred to committee, with a report of their recommendations to be presented to the quorum at a later date.

This commissioner fails to see any meritorious purpose to stripping the Caprica Six prior to testimony. In the two months since her capture during the Eye of Jupiter incident, she has reportedly complied willingly with her captors and has shown no indication of any intent to escape custody. She is unlikely to have access to weapons or explosives and, given her apparent emotional attachment to Dr. Baltar, is unlikely to attempt any action at the trial that might result in physically harming him. Likewise, Lt. Agathon is a Colonial citizen and officer of the Colonial fleet - the Admiral trusts her, and I see no cause for this commission to do otherwise.

None of the “Aaron Dorel”, “Leoben Conoy”, “D’Anna Biers”, “Simon” or “Cavill” Cylons are currently known to be operating within the fleet. In the event that one of them, or one of the “Final Five”, is located within the fleet prior to the trial, further review will be necessary at that time to determine what security measures will need to be implemented if and when they are called to testify, or presented as evidence, at the trial. Standard operating procedure with captive Cylons, to date, has involved enclosing them within an airtight, bulletproof, explosion-resistant cell, and transporting them, when necessary, at the end of a shock collar and escorted by a squad of Colonial marines. Unless circumstances involving the future capture of Cylons prove different than those experienced in the past, this commissioner believes that the existing means of Cylon control will prove sufficient.

I offer the following to the Commission:

As a potential solution to the juror problem, I suggest that the case be heard by a panel of Judges to be selected from those admitted to the bar in any of the colonies. The panel should contain an odd number of members, and a simple majority shall decide the verdict. The most senior, determined by date of bar admission, shall preside over the trial.

The trial should be bifurcated into two phases–the first phase will determine guilt or innocence. If convicted, the second phase will determine the sentence. A sentence of death shall require a super-majority of the Judge’s panel. For example, if there are 5 judges, 3 is enough to convict, but it would take at least 4 to impose the death penalty during the penalty phase.

A Cylon may testify, fully clothed, the same as any other witness. The trier of fact shall be able to observe the witness during testimony, and give such weight to her testimony as they see fit. While naked Caprica is very easy on the eyes, it is unseemly in a judicial forum.

The Defendant shall be entitled to confront any and all witnesses against him by cross examination through Counsel. Likewise, the Defendant shall be allowed to inspect any evidence offered, and have compulsory process, within reason, for obtaining evidence ro witnesses in his favor. The Defendant shall be privileged against self-incrimination, but if he chooses to take the witness stand, the Prosecution will be allowed full cross examination.

The procedings shall be broadcast live throughout the fleet. Portions of the trial dealing with sensitive information may be conducted in private, but a complete transcript shall be kept. Said transcript will be sealed for a period of 20 years, and then released to the general public, if any shall still exist.

Remember, we must do justice, not vengeance. Otherwise, we are no better than our enemies.

You, sirrah, are a spoilsport. Or maybe a Cylon! :eek: