By Tandis Taghavi, Editor-in-Chief
Chapter 4: The Goblet of Fire (read Chapters One; Two; and Three)
Heart pounding, I jolted upright in confusion. Wiping the tiny salt bubbles from my forehead, I only hoped this was all a nightmare. Unlike Lord Voldem….who, in his weakest form, boldly took away Frank Bryce’s last breath, the Senate, in its weakest form, chose to look away as millions took their last breath on Saturday, October 6th.
The well-established eras of our history remind us that a Portkey is not necessary to refresh our recollection [FRE 612] on the fact that it is worse to be poor and innocent than rich and guilty. This is true even in the Wizard World. When a group of masked Wizards start a riot at the 422nd Quidditch World Cup, the Ministry of Magic arrives immediately only to blame Harry Potter (the one unconscious person) for the attacks and the illuminated Dark Mark floating in the sky.
What’s worse? Funny you should ask…the tiny, female house-elf, Winky, is then found holding Harry Potter’s wand. But rather than investigate the crime and rationalize how and what motive Winky could have had for casting the Dark Mark, Winky is instead publicly and embarrassingly fired by her master, Barty Crouch Senior (who was an influential Ministry of Magic official). But who dare question Barty’s authority and listen to a poor house-elf testify to her innocence? Did Winky even have the necessary personal knowledge to cast the Dark Mark? [FRE 602]. When such a powerful political figure has a reputation for fighting fire with fire, does it even matter? [FRE 608] According to this high ranked official, obviously it had to be Winky…especially since Barty is neither clearly bias nor is looking out for his own political welfare (*wink* *wink*…see impeachment below).
Similar to the process of becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court, one of the highest and most powerful positions in the nation, being selected for the Triwizard Tournament requires some minimum standards and skill. The Goblet of Fire (President) is supposed to be a magical and “impartial” object that ONLY chooses the worthiest and most competent [FRE 601] candidates to compete in the tournament (appointment). After a delegate passes the magical “Age Line” test (preliminary procedural standards and questionnaire), their name is entered on the ballot and the games begin.
Can the headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore (the public), do anything if he believes a candidate has been improperly chosen? Not really…once you have been placed on the ballot you have implicitly taken an unbreakable vow. Can the headmaster turn to the Ministry of Magic (Republican senators) for guidance? Sure, but are adverse and hostile witnesses ever that helpful? Can he prove the Goblet abused its discretion? How—the artifact is so ancient and easily tempered, it just spews out fire with every piece of parchment. Can he prove the Goblet was unfairly prejudicial? Hmm…it appears that all the rectangular pieces of parchment that were inscribed with a candidate’s name were the same size, weight, and color. All these parchments were thrown and scorched into the blue flames of the Goblet in the exact same way (or were they? See the now bearded Fred and George Weasley). Can he prove the Ministry is biased? The three prior curses should be examined for any inconsistencies, contradictions, or bias, but beware their relevance, probative value, and collateral effect [FRE 401 & 403]. Can he prove the Goblet was placed under a powerful Confundus Charm? But what powerful and Moody Wizard would ever cast such a spell…
Wand Weighing Ceremony
While in the Wizardry World, wands are checked by judges to ensure all champions are in perfect functioning and fair condition for the three tasks ahead [FRE 104]; in the legal world credibility (and sometimes character) is assessed.
Since Harry neither submitted his name nor asked an older student to do so, the assembly is dumbfounded. One right-winged theory behind the chaos is, perhaps this is just another one of Harry Potter’s (Dr. Ford’s) stunts. He has presumable always had a propensity to sneak around, lie, and accomplish wizardly spells not feasible by others in his class; therefore, Harry must have snuck around, lied, and put the spell on the Goblet himself to enter into the tournament [FRE 404]. Harry’s plan all along must have been to distract the headmaster and secretly scheme with Death Eaters to pull one over the Ministry of Magic. After all, there has to be something in it for him, right?!
OBJECTION—leading; argumentative; no foundation; assumes facts not in evidence; calls for narrative; calls for speculation; improper characterization of testimony. vague.
So we know a propensity argument cannot be made (thank you evidence midterm)…but could Harry Potter have another purpose for throwing his name in the Goblet? [FRE 404(b)] Was his motive fame? Did he enjoy his entire life being captured incorrectly by Rita Skeeter? Did he enjoy being scrutinized and judged by the entire World of Wizardry? Did he feel comfortable going through the three nearly impossible and deadly tasks in the Triwizard Tournament? Did he intentionally mean to ruin the “good name” and “reputation” of any candidate chosen by the Goblet?
Credible? Or impeachable?
Bias? The Three Unforgivable Curses:
First the foundation…
- The Imperius Curse: controls the actions of a victim (plaintiff).
- The Cruciatus Curse: creates unbearable pain and/or permanent insanity to victims.
- The….Killing….Curse…: causes the victim to die instantly.
It is well recognized that use of any Unforgiveable Curse on a human being will win you a one-way ticket to life imprisonment in Azkaban. However, the same regime that made these curses illegal, seems to frequently depart from their own written standards.
On that note let’s get back to impeaching Barty Crouch Senior:
Although his own son, a Death Eater, helped drive 2 Aurors insane through the use of the Cruciatus Curse, Barty Crouch Senior still locked him up. But then through deceit and fraud, Crouch Sr. smuggled his son out of Azkaban by swapping him for his sick mother. Crouch Senior faked his son’s death and took him home. By home I mean Crouch Sr. hid his son under an Invisible Cloak for 12 years. But this was not enough. How was Crouch Sr. going to keep his son from returning to Lord Voldemort…?
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right” –Professor Albus Dumbledore
Crouch Sr. took the easy way out. This high-ranking politician did the unspeakable…the unthinkable…the unimaginable. He used the Imperius Curse. In fact, he routinely used the Unforgivable Curses to torture or kill enemies. Oddly, Crouch Jr. was able to use the curse as a defense, to show he was acting under the control of another, but this same rationale was forbidden for Winky’s defense. After all, was Winky acting under her free will or was she constrained to follow orders? It appears more frequently than not, the Minister of Magic can bend the law for specific people, as they see fit.
You see, everything is all fun and games until you are placed under the Imperius Curse. While we may be forced to dance to Professor Moody’s rhythm, when stakes are high and a lot is at risk…the silence outgrows the laughter. Crouch Sr. can no longer justify a plausible argument for his son’s dark actions. No longer can you justify and utilize the outdated and cliché, “boys will be boys” defense.
The [Wo]Man Who Did Not Want “Eternal Glory”
The stress on Harry grew as many of his friends and classmates started to believe the lying accusations made against him. While some students wore insulting campaign “Potter Stinks” badges, others joined his movement and cheered on his bravery.
Either way, Harry never intended to compete in the tournament. He was not searching for his 15 minutes of fame. Even if he was, there must be a better and quicker way to attract the public’s attention than fight off a fire-breathing dragon…right?
Rita Skeeter and the Daily Prophet
While in law school you too will have to survive the fiery breath of a Hungarian Horntail; the unexpected task of dressing for the Yule Ball; the leafy task of befriending Merpeople; and the final task of traveling to unfamiliar territories. In fact, you will have to do so with grace, patience, and respect. Do not be “Moody” otherwise inaccurate details captured by Rita Skeeter, under her Summoning Charm, could negatively affect your reputation, future prophets (see what I did there?), and any prospective relationships. Do not be fooled by the one and only Rita Skeeter. Cleverly, she will schmooze you until your back is against a cozy wall. Even if you keep your guard up, her poisoned pen will publish “some” version of your “confession” with no appeal for review.
No matter how many times you tell her you are 14 years old…she will respond:
“So tell me, Harry. Here you sit, a mere boy of 12…”-Rita Skeeter.
Now we have a Sirius, Burning Problem
Although there may be bias within the Ministry, uncertainty within the law, and credibility concerns amongst our most trusted advocates, we cannot forever hide behind an invisible cloak. It is important to face all the evidence, good or bad, and address both sides equally. Once a basic foundation is established, Rita Skeeter’s stories will seem like nothing more than a fallacy. However, her fictional stories should not be used to prove the truth of the matter asserted. If the public relies only on false and misrepresented information, our justice system will collapse into a pile of ash, faster than any city exposed to a California Wildfire.
Spread your VOTE, not the FIRE.
Tandis Taghavi, a 2L at California Western School of Law, is Editor-in-Chief of The Commentary. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Tandis completed her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in business at Texas A&M University. A-Whoop! Lastly, but most importantly, she’s a huge football fanatic . . . go COWBOYS!!