Writers have always used their work as a medium for expressing their hopes, dreams, and fears. The way a writer portrays the legal system of their fictional world can show a lot about how they feel about our justice system, whether it’s what they wish it was more like, or what they fear it may become. Some fictional worlds are practically defined by their legal systems. Let’s look at a few:
The Judges – Judge Dredd
In this dystopian future, the Judges handles practically all aspects of the law. Don’t let the name fool you though; they’re law enforcement, judge, jury, AND executioner all rolled into one. Additionally, lawyers are very rare in this world, usually only representing the richest clients. Everyone else is advised to not provoke the Judges, lest you end up with a heavier sentence.
The Inquisition – Warhammer 40k
This universe sees humanity besieged on all sides .The Empire revolves around the worship of the God-Emperor, and given that all crimes are crimes against the Emperor, law enforcement is handled by The Inquisitors. Armed with all manner of weapons and clad in heavy armor, they zealously prosecute any individual suspected of heresy. A zeal shared by the military wing that exemplifies the Empire as well.
The Ministry of Love –1984
Probably the most terrifying legal system on this list, the Ministry of Love, as portrayed in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, defines the law as whatever it says the law is. This is exemplified when one of the characters is told that 2+2 is “whatever the Ministry says it is”, revealing the Ministry to be more of an enforcement agency than one that upholds the law.
The Boros Legion – Magic: the Gathering
In one of the many worlds introduced during Magic: the Gathering’s long run, the law is upheld and enforced by the Boros Legion. A well-organized military organization, their ranks feature humans, goblins, minotaurs, and even angels. One of the strangest aspects of this group is that service doesn’t end with death. Ghosts of departed officers usually continue to serve on the force for centuries!
Do you think the creators of these worlds wanted to warn us about how far the justice system can fall? Were they pointing out the existing flaws by magnifying them through a lens of fiction?