Author Topic: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites  (Read 2686 times)

Offline Zephon

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Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« on: December 24, 2009, 12:27:24 AM »
I know that the Arbites are tasked with upholding Imperial Law, though I'm quite hazy on what the Law actually is, or how it works. Is it the same everywhere, in theory? I understand the Arbites have Judges and Courthouses, which would imply that they hold trials. Does anyone have any details on this kind of thing? Do they allow defense lawyers? Or just torture the suspect until they confess?

I'd always understood that the Arbites were disinterested in activities that don't threaten the planetary tithes, involve witches or heretics. I'd guess that they tackle inter-planetary crime too, especially anything that involves trafficking in heretical items or witches. Do they operate undercover agents to a significant degree? Or do they rely on high-quality signal intercepts?

Offline Morcus

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2009, 02:17:14 AM »
The Law the Arbites deal with is universal, planetry and system laws vary alot (there are many fluff mentions about slavery and how its legal in some places but not others.) They are there to deal with things like Governers turning away from the imperium or cheating taxes and to keep the population within the fold.

I believe they also serve as security forces to visiting imperial dignitries.

Offline Tullio

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2009, 03:08:03 PM »
The Lex Imperialis is supposed to be the same wherever you go - in actual fact there are differences in the way the Adeptus Arbites uphold it. Exactly what the Arbites are interested in apparently depends as much on the size and arrogance of thier presence as it does on what the Lex Imperialis has to say on crimes.

There only seems to be two crimes that are universally acted upon, and they are as follows -

1. Interference, withholding, damaging or otherwise hindering the payment of proper yearly tithe to the Imperium

2. Heresy, witchcraft, consorting with xenos and other such extreme religious deviance

In the latter case the Arbitrators might prosecute others for failing to prevent and control the heresy in the first place. But beyond that, the Arbitrators remit seems to vary wildly. On some planets they couldn't care less if the populace rebelled, so long as they paid thier tithes, on others it seems that they view any challenge to the current regime as direct rebellion against the rule of the Emperor.

Iíve never read anything about Arbitrators going undercover, although I suppose itís logical that they might. Execution Hour describes how they used specialist telepaths to aid with interrogation. It also describes how once an individual is arrested the amount of time it takes to get to trial is essentially irrelevant Ė a trial is theoretically forthcoming, but it doesnít matter if the defendant is killed in a prison gang war before that happens, for example

Tullio

Offline DapperAnarchist

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2009, 05:28:42 PM »
They are also supposed to prevent certain unsanctioned behaviour - while the Imperium launches wars and has Privateers, Governors aren't really supposed to. PO is the expert though
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Offline JoelMcKickass

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2010, 10:53:01 PM »
I can remember reading something about them also being a physical reminder of the "Emperor's Might", that kinda thing.

I always felt that the Arbites are one of the more interesting parts of 40k, though there doesn't seem to be much information on them.

InquisitorRex

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2010, 02:07:15 PM »
Codex Imperialis p34 & 35 are a very good starting point for this.

Generally speaking the Arbites do all those things already mentioned. There's is not the resolution of shop-lifting or even murder... there's are the crimes that have an impact on the whole Imperium.

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Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2010, 11:12:37 PM »
there's are the crimes that have an impact on the whole Imperium.
And then subject to ten thousand years of often-contradictory legal precedent and the individual judgements of long-dead judges, doctrine formed from decrees made by the Emperor during the Crusade which nobody remembers the context of...

From the text introducing Judges in the new Dark Heresy sourcebook, 'Ascension', it seems that the books of law that the Arbites uphold define punishment as well as what actually constitutes a crime. It seems, from those few paragraphs, that much of the legal process within the Imperium is a matter of searching through the relevant volumes of the Lex Imperialis and figuring out how the law applies (to the absolute letter of the law; one of the most heinous crimes an Arbitrator can commit is trying to work to some percieved intent of the law) and whether or not the guilty party should be shipped to a penal colony, turned into a servitor or simply shot in the face.
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Offline precinctomega

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 08:27:28 PM »
Those found guilty of crimes against the Imperium might wait so long for sentencing that they die of old age in custody.  Important convictees might even be given life-extending treatment such as the revunenat procedure just to ensure they last long enough to be properly sentenced.

Going back to the OP:

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I know that the Arbites are tasked with upholding Imperial Law
Not strictly true.  The purpose of the Arbites is to implement the Dictates Imperialis.  That is, their role is to ensure that the directives issued from Terra are put into practice by the worlds of the Emperor's domain (i.e. all of them).

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I'm quite hazy on what the Law actually is, or how it works. Is it the same everywhere, in theory?
In the big picture, the Dictates are the same everywhere, but the Adeptus Terra has and does issue dictates that specifically reference specific worlds or groups of worlds, such as those in given tithe grades, or of certain types, or in certain sectors or sub-sectors.  Of course, the Dictates may take years or even centuries to reach relevant worlds and, whilst some may come into effect only on receipt, others come into effect from the date of issue, requiring the Arbites to implement Dictates retrospectively going back to the date of issue.

Whole Imperial lines of nobility have been removed from power, whilst the scions of families long fallen from grace, perhaps by then occupying humble employments, find themselves thrust into power un-looked-for.

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I understand the Arbites have Judges and Courthouses, which would imply that they hold trials. Does anyone have any details on this kind of thing? Do they allow defense lawyers? Or just torture the suspect until they confess?

Depends on the world, the suspect and the offence.  The Arbites division of Judges are responsible for ensuring that all citizens are given the full benefit of the law up to and including a proper legal defence, but thousands of special conditions may attach to events - crimes committed under martial law, for example, or in the precincts of the Ecclesiarchy, or under the jurisdiction of the Adeptus Mechanicus - that will affect the rights of the citizen.  Nevertheless, citizens of the Imperium are still exactly that: they are humans, loyal (at least until proven otherwise) to the Golden Throne and, as a result, are themselves holy in nature and purpose.

In many cases, trial by torture, combat, fire or any number of other alternative methods may be called upon to settle issues where the crime applies.  Generally speaking, though, such decisive methods are the preserve of the Inquisition.  The Arbites recognize Inquisition authority, naturally, but where it doesn't pertain their objective is not to be fair but to be right.  So an accused may have to wait many years for the judicial process even to decide which of the many thousands of possible methods of trial is appropriate in his case.

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I'd always understood that the Arbites were disinterested in activities that don't threaten the planetary tithes, involve witches or heretics.

It's "uninterested".  "Disinterested" means neutral or uninvolved.  However, the Arbites are interested in anything pertaining to the Dictates Imperialis.  In most cases, this will mean that citizen-on-citizen crimes are of no interest to them and remain the preserve of the local government.  However, in some worlds - Hydraphur is a good example - local stability is considered to be of such a high priority to the good of the Imperium as a whole that a specific Dictate exists requiring the Arbites to take sole responsibility for the stability of the planet, including policing citizen-on-citizen crimes.

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I'd guess that they tackle inter-planetary crime too, especially anything that involves trafficking in heretical items or witches.

Whilst they are certainly interested in such crime, it's worth emphasizing something that most sci-fi utterly fails to appreciate in a meaningful sense: interplanetary crime is HUGE!  We live on a planet.  Note how much crime goes on on said planet.  Now imagine that there was another planet, a very, very long way away on which there was an equal amount of crime.  Now imagine how high up the chain of crime something would have to be that it would be interplanetary.  People smuggling?  Why?  Earth-like planets support billions of people.  They don't need to import them.  And the economics of interplanetary travel - even in the Imperium - are so enormous that any other form of travel for criminal purposes must be operated on a quite massive scale.

The point I'm coming to is that, whilst the Arbites are, indeed, interested in interplanetary crime, it really does fall quite firmly into the area of responsibility of either the Inquisition or the Imperial Navy.

Quote
Do they operate undercover agents to a significant degree? Or do they rely on high-quality signal intercepts?

Both.  The methods used by individual precincts are up to the Marshal of the Court, so some will operate undercover agents, informant networks and covert surveillance, whilst others will simply wait for the heretics, recidivists and traitors to raise their heads before blowing them away with a shotgun.

The Investigators of the Ordo Hereticus may have roots in the Adeptus Arbites.

R.

Offline TheNephew

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2010, 10:04:46 AM »
...Interplanetary crime is HUGE!
... Imagine how high up the chain of crime something would have to be that it would be interplanetary.

At the risk of stirring up a storm, this is one of the things I thought the Ravenor books covered well, especially in relation to the practical power of the institutions of the Imperium.
To have crime like that, you need powers that can clear stuff like Customs-equivalents, quietly blockade policing attempts and provide the information necessary to make smuggling possible for at least two entire administrations.
And that only comes at a sub-sector kind of level, I guess.

One of the things I quite like about the Arbiters, aside from the Dredd business, is the parallels they appear to have with the Inquisition in terms of powers (admittedly, which only come into effect once they're reasonably sure of a crime against the Imperium).
Said power is very finely defined, but the impression I got from the old fluff (sadly far behind on my fluff reading, since the DH material came out) is that they are sufficiently removed from what might be the 'normal' chain of command that they have the power to apprehend just about anyone they can pin a crime to.
I've lost track of my point again. Sod.

Offline Laughingman

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Re: Remit of the Adeptus Arbites
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2010, 11:31:33 PM »
"Remember that it is the duty of the mighty Adaptus Astartes Chapters and glorious Imperial Guard to wage the Emperor's wars and the duty of the fearless Imperial Navy to guard the Emperor's spaceways, but it is to hit loyal servants the Adaptus Arbites that His Divine Majesty in His infinite wisdom entrusts the most sacred duty of all:
Keeping in check the lawless heretic rabble that passes itself of as the Emperor's worthy subject"

Arbiter jurisdiction is near sweeping, fluff example is in Execution hour when an Arbiter Marshall commandeers the Cruiser the Lord Solar Macharius in order to return to a planet in an attempt to capture a heretic, an act which was carried out in front of a member of the Commissariat. Arbites don't deal with minor crimes however, ordinary robbery for example is carried out by planetary bodies, Arbites are centrally trained like Stormtrooper formations at a Schola facility. Arbites deal with crimes like not paying proper respect to Imperial symbols and officials, cleansing mutants and heretic cells etc.
"Through the warp and far away, the Emperor commands and we obey."