Longshot (longshot27) wrote in ragner_fanclub,

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A story of going down the wrong path

What follows is for OOC enjoyment only. It is a conversation between Ragner and a Ventrue out of Stockton. It started on the Camarilla list, where the poor Ventrue made a comment that indicated Lasombra could not be Prince.

This is what happened after I took it to a private exchange, and strung along the guy, who had no idea who I was.

People on my LJ have likely already seen this, but it seemed a good idea to post it here.

A A GOLOVKIN: Generally the rules for praxis are simple. The "Prince" is the sole kindred in a domain who claims the title. Once you have more than one claimant then praxis is considered to be contested. There are really only a few conditions for contesting a praxis. To do so the
claimant must...
1. be at least acknowledged within the Camarilla...
2. be in the domain from the time praxis is declared until the contest is resolved...
3. be a member of one of the founding clans of the Camarilla. Kindred who are members of so called probationary sects or from clans normally affiliated with the rebellion or the Giovanni may not
hold praxis.

JOHN RAGNER: I am curious about number 3. In your estimation, which clans fit this criteria?

Feel free to respond to me privately, if you so choose.

A A GOLOVKIN: Mr. Ragner,
Please forgive my delayed reply to your correspondence. The full member clans of the Camarilla and by whose virtue those of their blood may claim and hold praxis, are the Brujah, the Gangrel, the Malkavians, the Nosferatu, the Toreador, the Tremere and the Ventrue. Lasombra to loyal the Camarilla may hold any office short of Prince, and loyal Assamites may hold any office other than Prince or Seneschal. The alleged secession by clan Ganrel has not as far as I am aware been formally recognized. As such those who remain loyal have suffered no loss of rights. I hope I have answered your question.

Your servant,
A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: You have answered my question. But it seems to have brought more questions to mind.

For example, why is it Lasombra cannot hold the position of Prince?

A A GOLOVKIN: Because it has been decreed to be thus by several conclaves.

A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: If that is the case, how do you reconcile the fact that there are currently two Lasombra Princes? One is in Gimli, and the other has held the title in the domain of Iowa City for over a year. What would you suggest as a course of action for dealing with them?

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: I was not aware that such was the case. Are these two princes open in admitting their blood? I do know that there have been a few cases of Lasombra impersonating those of other blood in order to claim praxis. If they are open about it then this should be reported to an Archon. If they are not open about it then I would be very careful. Be certain that you have very strong evidence or a great deal of standing behind you before you make any accusations.

A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: No, they are very open about their lineage. Several archons are aware of the situation, but these Princes are still in power.

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: If they are open about it then perhaps mentioning it in passing on the Cam forum might draw some attention. Othwerwise my suggestion would to secure the backing of persons of high standing to petition the justicariett over the matter. You can also ask for a review or a legal opinion by the Society of the Hague if you have enough standing to get their attention. But be aware that you will be making enemies if you interject yourself into this matter. Tread carefully...

A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: Actually, I don't think that will draw much attention at all. Both of them have made references to themselves being Lasombra on the Cam forum.

And I know the one in Iowa City was very public about his clan and his position at a conclave about a year ago before three Justicars.

Any options other than the Society of the Hague?

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: Unless you can muster eough standing to make a big deal out of it I think that this comes under the heading of being discriminating in our battles. In other words pick and choose your fights carefully. Sometimes you may be right but its not worth the trouble that would be required to prove it. One must also remember that ther is an unoffical legal addage in English that goes somehting like this... "Possession is nine tenths of the law." They are the de facto if not de jure Prince because they are the sole claimant to the title. The fact that it may not be legal under Camarillan law is interesting but not of much weight unless someone is prepared to go to these cities and depose the"princes" in question.

A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: Actually, I have it on good authority it is quite legal.

By the way, I don't think I ever fully introduced myself. I'm John Ragner, Prince of Iowa City, member of clan Lasombra. Where did you say you lived, again?

I can assure you my claim is quite legitimate.

Oh, and my clan mate the Prince of Gimli says hi.

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: Your Grace,

I am a resident of the city of Stockton. While I defer to your title in view that no one challenges it, I must respectfully bow to the decrees of the Conclaves of our society. If there has been a revocation of the decree of the 1998 conclave which in its turn upheld the decree of Lord Justicar Lucian, you will forthwith have an apology from me along with an appropriate offer of prestation. Please extend my warmest felicitations to your kinsman the Prince of Gimli, whose acquaintance I had the honor of making while aiding his domain in its recent difficulties.

Your obedient servant,
A A Golovkin
Ventrue Whip of Stockton

Acknowledged by the Queen of London
Well Connected by Lady (now Prince) Dominique Toute ou Rien (at the request of the Prince of Gimli)

JOHN RAGNER: An announcement was made in June of 2002 by one of the Justicars, and none of the others stood opposed to it. The important part of the announcement, as it pertains to our discussion, is as follows:

"This arrangement and display of devotion has earned just reward. Henceforth, all Camarilla-loyal Lasombra are no longer bound by the restrictions upon Camarilla position dictated at the Conclave in Chicago of 1998. They are due all standing and respect of the Camarilla, and thus may serve the Camarilla in any capacity they are strong enough to hold."

Unless you can find reference after that point to a specific decision overturning this amendment to the conclave decision, I stand behind my claim that I am a perfectly legitimate Prince of the Camarilla.

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: Your Grace,

Could you please identify the Justicar who issued this decree? After a very brief search I have been unable to find the decree you are referencing. For clarification, is your Grace arguing that Conclaves are subordinate or inferior in their authority to the decrees of a single Justicar? Does your Grace hold that a Justicar or even all Justicars in combination may Ex Officio overturn the decrees of a lawful Conclave? Such would be a (pardon the term) breathtaking legal proposition that would turn centuries of Camarillan Law on its head. I would completely concur that the issue is not Res Judicata. And indeed it can and arguably should be raised before our society. However, unless every principal of Camarillan Law I have ever been taught is erratum a Decree of Conclave remains the highest article of law our society recognizes below the Traditions. Based on this understanding the decree you refer to would be Ultra Vires.

Your servant,
A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: First, it was the Ventrue Justicar who made the announcement of the amendment. I do not believe he would have been the sole individual responsible for making an amendment to a conclave decision. However, as I was not in attendance when it was amended, I have only the announcement of a *Faultless Justicar to go by. Are you suggesting a *Faultless Justicar would in fact amend something he did not have the authority to amend? Would you suggest the other *Faultless Justicars would stand to see their decisions changed by someone else if they were not in agreement? As far as I am concerned, the burden of proof is on you to show this amendment is false.

The fact is, I am a Prince. I have worked with various Archons, some of which have praised my handling of a domain. Were I not allowed to be Prince, on or more of them would have done something about it. I trust Archons are well versed in the laws of the Camarilla. I have met multiple Justicars, and they are aware of who I am, and not a one has ever said I should not be Prince.

The conclave decision was amended by the Justicariate at a later date - sometime before June 7, 2002. The Ventrue Justicar made the announcement, but I have no reason to believe the other Justicars were not involved.

Bring this issue up wherever you like. The more public the better. But unless you are going to try to come and take my domain, I am the Prince here, and I claim all the reputation and privilege that goes with it.

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: Your Grace,
Are you aware that all of the decrees of His Celestial Emminence have been repealed?

Your servant,
A A Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: Actually, I have been informed that this one decree has not been overturned.

But for the sake of argument, lets pretend you are right.

By the information I have, the 1998 Conclave limits Ravnos and Setites only. The way it was worded seems to indicate to me that "non Camarilla clans" can hold the position of Prince, Seneschal, or Primogen. It was noted that Ravnos and Setites could not hold these positions, as an exception to how other non-Camarilla clans were handled. The inclusion of Lasombra in this limitation was part of an edict by then Justicar Pedder, and as you say, his edicts were overturned.

Of course, I may be incorrect on the Conclave. Feel free to provide the exact wording and why your interpretation is correct if you disagree.

But still, let us assume I am wrong, and move on to my next contention.

Can a single Justicar make a policy decision for the whole of the Camarilla? Can a single Justicar decide which clans can or cannot hold praxis? And can another Justicar simply flip that switch off? Be careful how you answer here.

Regardless, here is something more to consider.

At a conclave last year, those clans that could not hold the position of Prince were discussed, and the possibility of them holding the position came up. It was decided Ravnos could in fact be Prince. It was decided Setites Assamites could not. Lasombra did not come up, despite two Lasombra Princes sitting in the front row. Why is this? Because it was already accepted they could be Prince. Or are you going to tell me Ravnos are more deserving of holding the position than my clan?

But as it is, the edict on Lasombra stands, last I heard.

John Ragner

A A GOLOVKIN: Your Grace,

The edicts I have read simply state that Her Power has repealed the decrees of Justicar Pedder. No exceptions were noted. In response to your questions...

Q. Can a single Justicar make a policy decision for the whole of the Camarilla?

A. Provided that the policy does not contradict the decrees of a higher authority, and that it is not in disagreement with the policies of other Justicars.yes. At what point such would be the case is of course a matter of conjecture and something to be hashed out by persons of higher standing than myself.

Q. Can a single Justicar decide which clans can or cannot hold praxis?

A. No. These issues have been addressed by Conclaves which as I have already noted are held as the highest source of law for our society below the Traditions.

Q. And can another Justicar simply flip that switch off?

A. Yes. Justicars are coequal to one another. Their authority being the same a Justicar (especially of the same clan) can amend or repeal any decree of their predecessors at will, unless that decree has been confirmed by a higher authority, i.e. a Conclave. It is effectively the same as when the Czar issued a decree amending or repealing one issued by a predecessor. Obviously it would be a most extraordinary act for a Justicar to attempt to amend or repeal a Justicarial decree from another clan. If there is any precedent for that I am not aware of it. However while rare, open disagreement or the existence of conflicting decrees between Justicars is not unknown.

Such was the case when Justicars Masako and Czarinov issued decrees on the subject of amaranth which did not seem to express the same opinion. The matter was later resolved in favor Justicar Czarinov’s opinion in 2001. This is another (Inter Alia) reason for a Conclave and why their decrees are superior to those of the Justicariat. They serve as a means of resolving such unintentional conflicts.

Q. At a conclave last year, those clans that could not hold the position of Prince were discussed, and the possibility of them holding the position came up. It was decided Ravnos could in fact be Prince. It was decided Setites Assamites could not. Lasombra did not come up, despite two Lasombra Princes sitting in the front row. Why is this? Because it was already accepted they could be Prince. Or are you going to tell me Ravnos are more deserving of holding the position than my clan?

A. I was not in attendance upon the Conclave and it would be highly presumptuous of me to attempt to assign motives to those who were present and were the architects of its decrees. However you ask if Ravnos are more deserving than Lasombra to hold Praxis. I am interpreting this question as a request for a personal opinion of right rather than an interpretation of law. In my opinion the Lasombra who have been loyal to the Camarilla should be allowed to hold Praxis. The only justification I have heard for withholding that right is that unlike Ravnos, clan Lasombra is closely affiliated with the Rebellion. While prudence may dictate some caution in this matter, I do not think that this is sufficient grounds for a blanket policy barring those of your blood from holding Praxis. I hasten to note however that this is a purely personal opinion, and does not reflect my current understanding of Camarillan Law.

Finally, I think it is important to seek council as to the accuracy of my opinions. While I do believe that I am passably versed in the laws of our society, I do not claim infallibility. And whenever I find myself in disagreement with a person of your august reputation I believe prudence and respect for your standing demands a “second opinion.” Therefore I will be writing this evening to the Society of The Hague. I will include a complete copy of our correspondence and ask them for a legal opinion on this subject. I shall also request that they correct me on any errors of fact or interpretation of the law on this subject. If you wish; I will ask them to copy your Grace on their response or I can simply forward to you whatever they send me.

Your obedient servant,
Andre Alexandrovitch Golovkin

JOHN RAGNER: Feel free to have them send me what they find. You are the first person in the year I've held the title to tell me I can't be Prince, so I find it hard to believe they will tell you that you are right.

John Ragner

Time passes...


I was curious if you had heard back from the society yet. I am looking forward to their response to you.

Failing that, we had a deal. As it stands, I claim I can legitimately be a Prince, and you claim otherwise. I have spoken with an Archon of the Ventrue Justicar's office, and he assures me I am in the right. I believe my word, and his, trump yours, thus I recall you making mention of an apology, and perhaps a debt.

If you wish to verify this yourself, the Archon in question is Pavel Nadolski. He is a clan mate of yours.

John Ragner
still Prince of Iowa City
still Lasombra

A A GOLOVKIN: Prince Ragner,
I have not heard back from the Society as of yet. I will be more than happy to offer an apology backed by an offer of prestation should it be deemed that I am in error. I will send a letter to the Society and ask if they have any information.

Your servant,
A A Golovkin

A bit more time passes...

A A GOLOVKIN: Your Grace,

Although I am still awaiting the report from the Society of The Hague, I have independently found the text of former Justicar Pedder's decree to which you have alluded. It was not properly archived. While I have not yet found the text of the decree repealing the decrees of Justicar Pedder I am informed by reliable sources that an exception was included for decrees pertaining to individuals (i.e. the granting or stripping of status and privileges etc.). And though not explicit it seems reasonable to presume that it was not the intent of our current Justicar to revoke Justicar Pedder's decree broadening your clan's rights within the Camarilla. Thus that issue has been resolved in your favor. Regards the question of the authority of a Justicar to unilaterally overturn the ruling of a conclave I believe the point is moot. I am not aware of anyone else having raised the issue. The decree has never been challenged and by virtue of acceptance over so long a period it would, as a principal of law, have gained the force of legal precedent. Thus I concede that the issue is reduced to one of academic interest worthy of debate amongst lawyers, but of no practical import. I think I will write a dissertation for the Society on this overlooked legal precedent which has effectively established the right of a single Justicar to overturn the decrees of a conclave. As a lawyer I find it quite fascinating. However I digress...

I fully concede that you were correct in your position and I was wrong. I offer you my most sincere apologies for any offense you have taken by my words and ask that you please provide me with the name and contact information for your Harpy so that I may register a proper token of my regret. Further should the issue be raised by any others you may call upon me to defend your clan's lawful right to praxis.

Your obedient servant,

A A Golovkin

Game, set, and match goes to Ragner

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