Watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for the second time yesterday, I was struck by how Graves was able to quickly sentence Tina and Newt to death without a real trial, with no jury, and with no chance for appeal, and also able to order that the sentence be carried out immediately. For a government that seems roughly parallel to the US no-maj government (though only to a certain point), it seems strange that such basic defendant rights be non-existent. Is the MACUSA really such an illiberal government?

One may argue that Graves was bending or even breaking the law in the manner of sentencing and carrying it out (he certainly has ulterior motives), but there were also two assistants who were more than willing to accept the sentence and see it carried out. Unless these two witches had loyalties to Graves independent of their loyalties to MACUSA, it seems that by their actions they were accepting the course of events as legal and even normal.

Here's three articles others have published online also highlighting this: 1, 2, 3.

  • No worries. Cheers for the acceptance :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


The simplest answer is that while Graves has certainly breached protocol by passing sentence on Newt and Tina without a trial, it's worth noting that Newt basically admitted (in front of multiple witnesses) that he repeatedly and knowingly broke the MACUSA's highest law, something that would typically merit the death penalty anyway.

Rappaport’s Law enforced strict segregation between the No-Maj and wizarding communities. Wizards were no longer allowed to befriend or marry No-Majs. Penalties for fraternising with No-Majs were harsh. Communication with No-Majs was limited to that necessary to perform daily activities.

Pottermore - Rappaport's Law


A significant difference between the wizarding governments of the United States and the UK of this time was the penalty for serious crime. Whereas British witches and wizards were sent to Azkaban, the worst criminals in America were executed

Pottermore - MACUSA

When the 'executioners' look a little askance at the speed of his decision, he simply shrugs it off. He acknowledges that he's breaking with protocol and just says that he'll get it sorted. They evidently trust him to do so.

GRAVES: (to the EXECUTIONERS) Just do it immediately. I will inform President Picquery myself.

Since Graves is in full charge of wizard security, second only to the President, his decision is certainly unusual but it's not surprising that his placemen did exactly what they were told. It's also possible that he has some kind of emergency powers that he can use in cases like this where there's an ongoing risk.

  • 2
    Just another example of how borked the wizarding legal system is....
    – Skooba
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 13:51
  • 1
    @Skooba "...how borked the wizarding legal system is ..." Borked? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bork#Bork_as_verb
    – RichS
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:42
  • 2
    @RichS - Broken
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 15:48
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    I can't recall right now, was Graves' sentence against them based on the violation of the secrecy of the wizarding world or based on murder? I seem to recall the latter being what he used. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:07
  • 2
    @Joshua - He based it on Rappaport's law, that Newt's intention was to breach the secrecy of the wizarding world. There had also been an admission earlier (in the chamber) that he'd spent time with a No-maj without obliviating them
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:14

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