The Amerada Series is a collection of articles concerning the history of the Republic of Amerada, which was an active Anglophone Simulationist Community micronation in the early twenty-first century. Most of these articles were originally published in Liam Sinclair’s Amerada: the Story of a Nation book in 2002/2003. The articles as published by RIMA were subsequently updated and expanded for what was intended to be a more detailed edition of that book in 2007. Additional updates since the original manuscripts were re-written in 2007 have been made in an effort to complete articles that were left incomplete in 2007 upon cessation of the Amerada: the Story of a Nation fourth-edition effort.
In the autumn of 2001, the Amerada court system was experiencing a major surge of business as the impeachment trials of William Steeves were underway, as well as the criminal trial against Liam Sinclair on charges of supporting terrorism. Compared to most other micronations, Amerada was unusually active throughout its life in terms of judiciary activity, yet it would not be until late 2002, in the dying days of the Washburn regime, that an impartial and structured system for the Amerada Supreme Court was adopted.
The court system in Amerada prior to the development of the Supreme Court in November 2002 was one which would lend credence to the idea of kangaroo courts. When a court case presented itself, there were no judges on the payroll of the court to hear the case. Instead, for each case arriving before the Supreme Court, the President of Amerada, in these cases Earl Washburn, would arbitrarily appoint a judge to hear the charges and ensuing court battle. The court consisted of a hearing over MSN Messenger in which the judge, defendant & counsel, prosecutor, and President participated.
The majority of trials were by judge, and as the judge was appointed arbitrarily by the President on the day of the trial, charges of biased were common in proceedings of the court. For Liam Sinclair’s trial, Derek McCullough was appointed as presiding judge – this despite the fact that on the colony of Michswick’s website, over which McCullough was governor and webmaster, there was a news story and poll which ran to the effect of “Sinclair is guilty” even before the trial began. Sinclair did not actually attend the trial, claiming it was politically biased, and his solicitor, Nicholas Bridgewater, argued on that issue to no avail and tried to have the judge dismiss the jury chosen by Washburn for the trial. The jury, consisting of two people (as the limit for MSN Messenger conversations was five persons), were members of the Washburn cabinet and found Sinclair guilty as charged, fining him an exorbitant amount of AmBucks (currency).
The source of Sinclair’s comment that the ‘Shadow’ attack of 31 October “looked good on Washburn,” was during his participation as judge of the first Steeves’ impeachment trial on 30 October 2001; the first recorded trial in Amerada’s judicial history. It was not the first time Steeves had found himself before the courts in Amerada. In June of that year, Steeves physically assaulted Washburn, who was newly sworn in as president following Weatherhead’s resignation, on the basis that he did not agree with Washburn’s new plans for the direction of the federal government. By September, all was forgiven, and Steeves rejoined the Democratic Liberal Party of Amerada and was elected Prime Minister by October (having defeated opponent Genevieve Wong).
The trial on 30 October was to hear charges relating to Steeves’ verbal assault on Washburn. Under Washburn’s reasoning, if he were insulted, this also meant that the person was insulting the Republic of Amerada, which was an infringement of the legal code. The judge appointed to hear the matter was Sinclair, who ruled that offending the president of Amerada personally was not the same thing as offending the state of Amerada. Steeves was acquitted of the charges, but not before Washburn managed to anger the presiding judge by attempting to declare the verdict illegal. Washburn, unhappy with the acquittal of Steeves and the verdict, now tried to nullify the decision of the very judge he appointed to hear the trial. Angry at the president attempting to politically control his court, and with the ‘Shadow’ attack of 31 October, Sinclair would make that fateful comment which would see him go from judge to convict in little more than seventy-two hours.
Steeves was not the only person facing threats of impeachment by Washburn at this time. Vice-President of Amerada, Weatherhead, was threatened with charges of dereliction of his duties, but these were eventually dropped and he retained his position.
By December 2001, Steeves was back on trial, facing impeachment in his position as prime minister. The new charges stemmed from Steeves having made colourful comments at the Micro-Nations.org web forums. This brought unwelcome attention to Amerada and he would be charged with insulting the state. On 13 December, Steeves was quickly found guilty of the charges and removed as prime minister. McCullough, who had been interim prime minister in September 2001 before removal for dereliction of his duties, returned to the office as the new prime minister of Amerada.
Two-thousand-and-one was the most active year for the Amerada Supreme Court in terms of criminal and state trials. Early in the year, shortly after the founding of Amerada, Weatherhead had been charged with violating the law which required updating of the national website once a week. Kiril Litvinov, along with Steeves, were both charged with conspiracy to harm prime ministerial candidate Washburn in April. By the end of the year, the micronation had further witnessed two impeachment trials and a criminal trial. It would not be the last trial to grace the chambers of the Supreme Court.
In April 2002, the governor of the North Cerritories, Chris Donle, would find himself in front of the Supreme Court. Donle, who was a dual citizen and president of the United Bobessian Republic, was brought to trial for the Bobessian war declaration against Amerada surrounding recent events with respect to Micro-Monde. Washburn had him charged with treason due to his Ameradian citizenship and Sinclair was again appointed as a judge to hear the case. Donle was found guilty, fined 15,000 AmBucks, and sentenced to 180 days of community service. He was also required to issue an apology for the declaration of war against Amerada. As with time healing all wounds, Donle and Washburn would soon become friends once again and the incident was widely forgot.
On the colonial front in 2002, the Tebec Commons, the legislature of that colony, had passed a law decreeing that Tebec laws took precedence over Amerada federal law (as there were no federal statues to enshrine federal law as supreme). While it was a clear implication that federal law succeeded colonial law, as per the modus operandi of a federation, the technicality was used by Tebec to gain more sovereignty due to very poor relations between the two governments. Washburn threatened to go to the Amerada Supreme Court to block the attempt by the Commons, but the case was never brought forth. Instead, after much argument between Washburn and Sinclair, Tebec was granted external territory status, allowing the controversial Commons law to stand.
Reforming the Supreme Court
On 25 November 2002, the Supreme Court received its first permanent justice, replacing the old system of arbitrary judge appointments. Prime Minister Tristan Calvani swore Sinclair into office as the Chief Justice. Sinclair’s first point of business was to bring in reforms to the system to prevent the biased and arbitrary appointments that had plagued the court throughout its history. This eventually produced a very long and detailed Supreme Court Act in 2003.
With a full-time justice now appointed to the Supreme Court, government and legislative members began coming to the court for judicial interpretations of Amerada law. All laws to date were vaguely authored, as legislative writing was not an area of excellence for the Washburn administration, which presented many questions about their limitations and effectualness. Within two months, the Supreme Court had issued over a dozen decisions ranging from court orders to verdicts and judicial reviews. Issues such as the legality of abortion laws within Amerada were dealt with and charges against Washburn for attempting to overthrow Bridgewater’s presidency on 15 January 2003 were heard.
In the latter case, Washburn was found guilty, stripped of his citizenship in Amerada, and banned indefinitely. The incident began when Washburn used his ownership of the national forums to remove Bridgewater’s control powers following a decision by the Supreme Court. That decision allowed a four-to-two vote in favour of a bill in the legislature to constitute a majority vote, thus allowing controversial reform legislation introduced by Bridgewater to pass (the Executive Powers and Reform Act). Having lost his attempt to block the legislation in the legal system, Washburn declared Bridgewater to no longer be the president on the basis that a person who was head-of-state of another micronation could not be the president of Amerada.
Such was the law during Washburn’s administration, and Bridgewater was indeed the King of New Worcestor Kingdom; however, the court ruling on what constituted a majority in the legislature was made retroactive to the beginning of the current sitting of the legislature. This made the controversial Bill 89 on executive powers reform introduced by Bridgewater, and voted on with a four-to-two result prior to the presidential elections in December 2002, valid. The retro-activity effectively meant that under Amerada law, despite Bridgewater being head-of-state of another micronation, he was still able to run for president that December and his win was incontestable in the courts.
The federal legislature, responding to the coup by Washburn, moved to formally repeal the law which blocked foreign heads-of-state from assuming the presidency of Amerada. The law was repealed within the week as a show of defiance to Washburn’s actions. Following private discussions between Washburn and Chief Justice Sinclair, Bridgewater had his control over the national forums restored. On 11 February, just a day before Amerada’s second anniversary, President Bridgewater filed charges against Amerada’s last active founding father for his attempt to overthrow the presidency. Tried in abstention, Washburn was convicted on 11 March 2003 of the crime and would leave Amerada nothing more than a criminal. Several months later, with Amerada coming by hard times in terms of activity, mainly due to Washburn convincing many of the active population to not support the Bridgewater government, Washburn would ironically return to Amerada seeking to regain his citizenship. The legislature would return his citizenship and Washburn returned as a member of the Bridgewater government, in the role of Minister of the Interior.
By August 2003, Sinclair had left Amerada as an active citizen, but not before he had issued several volumes of judicial review decisions on all of Amerada’s federal laws up to his resignation. He would be the first and last Chief Justice to actively run the courts in the area of judicial review, and the Supreme Court would fall silent for the remainder of Amerada’s active life.