Reconciliation Forums of Betazed
Reconciliation Forums are considered a separate body to the Betazoid Government Council, where disputes are heard between the Houses.
Reconciliation forums are built on many hundreds of years of tradition. Like Betazoid weddings, all participants in a Reconciliation Forum were required to appear without any clothing. However, after joining the Federation, “off-worlders” involved in forums were often uncomfortable with this practice. The tradition was subsequently changed so that all participants wore gowns, similar to Terran Kimonos.
The presiding official of a Forum is known as an Adjudicator. Adjudicators used to have to be female, but that changed in the late 2200s, due to lobbying from the Federation.
There are three levels of the Reconciliation Forum system: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. Any disputes involving a House of Betazed must be heard by a sitting of the Primary Reconciliation Forum.
Reconciliation and Compromise
As an effect of the Betazoid Matriarchal society, compromise and reunion of parties is the ultimate focus of an Adjudicator of a Forum. Unlike the legal judicial institutions of other worlds such as Earth, a reconciliation forum does not base itself on an adversarial system.
Even when a dispute involves more than two legal entities (parties), all parties are represented at a Reconciliation Forum.
A Reconciliation Forum has the following roles:
- Adjudicator: The presiding official of a Reconciliation Forum session. They must be referred to as "Mother" or "Father". Adjudicators are forbidden to have any association with any of the Houses of Betazed. Nobles and House employees are disqualified from being an Adjudicator, Keeper, of Reflector. Their attire is a sliver-grey robe.
- Reflector: A strong empath, but must not have any telepathic abilities. The role of the reflector is to gauge any emotional inconsistencies from any member of a party participating in a forum, and report those to the Adjudicator. They are usually naturally talented and strong empaths, although in Forums of a shorter length are not usually called upon.
- Keeper: Adjudicator's administrative officer.
- Party: A represented legal entity (i.e. person or organisation) at a Forum, who are part of the dispute to be settled
- Representative: A person appointed to legally represent a Party
- Children: The title used by the Adjudicator to address members of all of the participating parties
- Advocate: A person or organisation that can act on behalf of a Party
Procedures and Rules
To initiate a Reconcilation Forum, a Party must lodge a petition, and name the disputed party or parties. An assigned Adjudicator will assess the petition, and then if deems appropriate, schedule a Reconciliation Forum with the parties. All parties then submit a brief to the Adjudicator prior to the Forum.
Reason for Lodgement
At the beginning of a Forum, the petitioner summarises their reason for lodging a petition.
All official communication is to be verbal. Anything not spoken aloud is dismissed. Debate is encouraged, but the goal is resolution, not discord. Truth is an absolute. Anyone being false is severely penalized.
Intra-party telepathic communication is accepted, and is considered private
Betazoid House Nobles or Employees
Any noble or employee of a House must disclose their title and/or role to the Adjudicator at the beginning of proceedings.
Children that are called upon to speak by the Adjudicator are expected to stand, except in cases of ill health. All persons are also expected to bow their head to the Adjudicator when issued with an instruction, or to answer in the affirmative to an Adjudicator's question.
The Keeper announces when an Adjudicator is entering a forum:
- "[Mother/Father] is entering. Respect from all."
All persons present at a Forum, including members of the spectating gallery, must stand when the Keeper announces the arrival and departure of the Adjudicator.
Once the Adjudicator enters the room, the Adjudicator announces the beginning of the Forum, with words similar to the following:
- "Greetings, Children. I am [Mother/Father] [Adjudicator Name]. We are here by the request of [Party name], to hear their petition. And to bring harmony."
A Representative may request to interject during proceedings, to protest the words or actions of another Representative, testimony of any person, or the decision of an Adjudicator. The Adjudicator rules on the interjection, and their decision is final. Continued protesting is generally not tolerated by The Adjudicator, and may be punished to the Adjudicator's satisfaction within legal bounds.
All artefacts are presented digitally, except for physical artefacts.
All participants must wear gowns, in respect of the traditions of Betazoid culture of being unclothed and having nothing to hide. Starfleet or Military officers by convention are held in high regard by Reconciliation Forums and are the exception to this rule. They are required to wear their uniforms.
Reconciliation Forums must be held in a circular room. The room must contain hollow circular table, similar to a conference table, where all participants sit. The section of the table for the Adjudicator must be slightly higher than the rest of the table. Gaps are placed in the table between parties to separate them.
When a person is called to testify, they sit in a chair that is located in the hollow section of the table.
The back wall behind where the Adjudicator sits are generally adorned with many indoor plants on the back wall. Some species of flowering plants used will move their blossoms towards the Adjudicator as they approach their seat at the table.
Most Reconciliation Forums have a spectator gallery, which is raised above the floor of the forum, with a force field in place. A single set of steps usually lead down to the floor area from the gallery, allowing persons to be called to enter the Forum area.
The “Tholta” Primary Reconciliation Building in Rixx is the largest Reconciliation Forum in Betazed territory. It is considered the administrative center of the Primary Reconciliation Forums of Betazed.
Decisions and Outcomes
Once all parties have presented their information, and the Adjudicator has gathered all information required to their satisfaction to make a decision, they will determine an outcome. In some cases, an Adjudicator may take days or weeks to come to a decision.
An Adjudicator has the right to optionally call in fellow Adjudicators at the end of a case, which can drastically delay the outcome, sometimes for several months.