CS: Mr Clark, thank you for sitting down with us again. If I were to contrast the Anthony Clark who sat down for an interview in 2015 with the one before me today, I think the biggest difference I would see is an intense focus on all-things judiciary in nature. What drives your personal interest in the administration of justice?
It’s not so much the administration of justice, but law that is a great personal interest. To me, it’s an absolute fundamental of any state. Even those without complicated legal systems are all in some way based upon it. I believe a stable, if not especially advanced legal system, is an absolute essential for most micronations. It allows us to regulate ourselves and it can be a fascinating thing to experiment with.
It has to be said that originally law bored me to an extreme. Indeed, it took me over a year to write any legislation for Mcarthia at all. Our original constitution, written by me at the tender age of twelve, gave our citizens only five rights; by comparison, the current constitution lists over forty. Honestly, I’m not sure what changed. The Maelternt, which I adored at the time and now look at with repulsion, was the start of my legal interests. It’s just developed from there, I suppose.
CS: How can a micronation balance the benefits of a judiciary with the rights of the citizen, or with the need to not alienate participation?
A judiciary by nature should not be threatening the rights of its citizens, it should be protecting them. So long as the law is adhered to and due process is followed, there should be no issue with rights being infringed. Indeed, I hope that micronational courts are defending their citizens.
Still, court cases have got a bad name recently and I can see why. They are either utterly meaningless, jurisdictionally questionable, or really just another name for an online flame war. I’m really frustrated by this. I don’t see a functioning legal system and citizen participation as incompatible. It is true that an aggressive legal system, particularly with regards to criminal prosecutions, could be intensely off putting, but it doesn’t have to be like that if we do things sensibly. The state has a responsibility to follow the law to the letter, and the community has a responsibility to recognise that law.
I think we need to particularly counter the culture of civil actions being hostile things. I would like to see a community where pursuing civil actions was regarded not as a personal attack, but just a formal way of resolving an issue. We often forget the nature of a civil action. It doesn’t have to be that we’re accusing someone of being negligent and are demanding compensation. It could just be that we want to push an authority to comply with legislation, for instance. If we could change the anti-court mindset that I think has become predominant in the community, judiciaries would be able to benefit the community far better.
CS: Changing the anti-court mindset is a reasonable goal, but how do we get there is the challenge. Are there some first steps that you’d suggest to start the ball rolling on this cultural change?
First of all, we need to be much more careful in the cases we pursue and how we do so. Frivolous litigation, illegal extraterritorial trials, and so on, are never going to improve the image of court cases. We must only pursue cases that are legal and necessary. If someone is being prosecuted for a criminal offence, there needs to be public legislation stating that it is a crime. We must follow procedural law. We must act in accordance with due process. Courts and law enforcement services must act totally above board. There needs to be trust.
Just as damaging as a dodgy judiciary is a lack of respect for the role of courts. All micronationalists have a role to play in respecting the rule of law. If a case is legal, micronationalists should promptly comply with court orders and sentences, and the proceedings should not be called out as ‘invalid,’ or ‘a show trial.’ The courts must respect the people, and the people must respect the law.
CS: Your “sandbox” for translating your interest into a practical experiment has largely been your micronation of Mcarthia. Would you share with our readers some of Mcarthia’s successes in law and justice, as well as perhaps give a glimpse of planned future projects?
I think our biggest success is simply the establishment of our legal system. I think it fair to call it considerably advanced, and has a lot of legislation structuring it. We’ve so far had four cases: the one lawsuit was eventually dismissed, and the other three have been ‘cases in rem,’ where queries about the meaning of the law were raised.
Having these cases has been fantastic. It is remarkable how much a system can develop through the hearing of a single case, both in terms of procedure and case law. It’s been quite hard to get our heads round the legislation we ourselves wrote! All of these things really just take practise, so the more cases of any kind we can have, the better for our legal development.
With regards to the future, the most important thing to do is keep the judiciary active. While we haven’t had a criminal case yet, it is reasonably likely we will end up with one in the next few months. I anticipate also a number of other civil cases. There’ll be work on the law enforcement side of things as well. The Police and Intelligence Act (2017) established two new subsidiary bodies of the National Police Service: the National Investigations Office and the Mcarthian Intelligence Service. I predict both of these starting to take more of a role.
The major project I am working on at the moment is the codification and monumental expansion of our legislation. The Code of the Republic of Mcarthia, as it is called, is inspired by the masterpiece of legal writing that is the Universal Triumvirate Code, and will certainly rival it in length. So far, it’s 77 pages long, and we’ve barely started on it. It ranges from ethics to select committees, criminal justice social work to task forces, security vetting to the protection of diplomats; it goes on. I am really excited about the completion of the code. If enacted, it will give Mcarthia a good claim to being one of the most legally developed micronations in the community.
A new organisation (dare I say it) has also been mooted, potentially independent of government. Justice Intermicronational, as is the working name, would be a group trying to encourage legal due process and ethics. I cannot say for certain if this proposal will come to anything, but it could be a valuable development if it did.
CS: That sandbox also extends to the international arena, through your efforts at GUM to develop the Secretariat for Conflict Resolution and Intermicronational Law (SCRIL). What motivated you to propose the Secretariat’s creation?
Last December, I made a statement to the Quorum about how I wanted to see the GUM taking an active role in mediation and international law. I thought it particularly disappointing that people had been calling on the GUM to provide conciliation services and it hadn’t been doing anything about it.
The SCRIL provides a formal framework for GUM-led mediations, and I think that already it is starting to prove itself. It served for instance to resolve the Paravia-Dachenia dispute and all parties were very grateful as to the services we provided. It’s also working on a number of legal projects, including an enormous law guide for micronationalists.
I was motivated to create it because I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the GUM’s stagnation at that time and because I wanted to ensure we were taking an active role in the promotion of community peace. I also wanted international law to become a larger part of our community.
CS: Can you give us a brief insight into what sort of material the law guide will include?
A bit of everything, really. It starts off with basics about statehood, power, and the rule of law, and goes on to deal with different legal systems, motions and orders, extradition, sentencing, criminal records, codification, double jeopardy, impeachments, judicial reviews, the meaning of the letter ‘R’ in case stylings, how to write legislation, ethics, clerking, and even extraordinary rendition. Whether we’ll actually finish it is another thing!
CS: I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. How relevant are micronational courts truly, insofar as any punishment imposed is generally unenforceable or mere inconvenience? For example, fines cannot be enforced, and banishment easily circumvented using available technologies if one wishes.
I think micronational courts are enormously relevant! It’s true that sentencing options can be limited in criminal matters, but that’s not true for civil cases at all. If a body is under a court’s jurisdiction, any number of injunctions can be ordered. Courts are very valuable in resolving conflict, even if in some cases it doesn’t necessarily look like it at first.
Courts aren’t really in micronations to punish lawbreakers because there aren’t that many in our community. Courts are there to make the law meaningful. A lot of time in this community is spent working in legislatures but all this work goes to waste if there is no way of enforcing law (and I mean law generally, not necessarily in the criminal sense).
The role of a judiciary in interpreting law is hugely valuable as well. Honestly, micronational law is rarely as watertight as expertly written macronational legislation, so having someone deciding on how it should be viewed is essential to prevent conflict.
CS: You’ve recently floated an idea of using court-imposed unpaid fines as backing for a national currency. As you said yourself, it’s a strange but unique idea. As I read your proposal, I admittedly felt uneasy, in that I envisioned the commoditization of punishment being fatal to a small, close-knit community such as a micronation. How would you balance the use of the courts as a currency generator with the administration of justice?
I mean, the concept was highly theoretical. I don’t imagine it coming to anything, both for the reasons you mentioned, and also because the very small number of fines that a micronational court would ever impose would unlikely be enough to sustain a currency. I am still quite curious about how the idea might be developed into an ABS – asset backed security. I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about it too much at this stage, because frankly I haven’t spent a lot of time developing it.