I'm sure the book was from a well known old-school sci-fi writer.

Looking for a book, or maybe its a short story within a collection of short stories, where disputes are settled by roving Jurist/Judge who have been trained to be completely objective and have been authorized to have absolute final authority in the decision to settle any dispute.

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    There are elements of this in the Lensmen series by E. E. Doc Smith.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 6:15
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    @Paulie_D And I'm already thinking of a few other examples, by other writers from decades ago, that used a somewhat similar concept for the main character's job description. (Although sometimes his authority was confined to such things as "medical emergencies," instead of his having the final word in any dispute whatsoever.) If Anytus can remember a few details of one of the colorful problems which the Roving Judge had to resolve with absolute authority, it might help me narrow the field in my mind.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 6:26

2 Answers 2


It might be a story from Lois McMaster Bujold's Borders of Infinity. Miles Vorkosigan, the main character, in his role as a Vor lord, can (and does) act as a wandering judge and detective within his demesne.

If I remember correctly, his powers in practice extended to being judge, jury and executioner if need be (he could be overruled, but only by a higher Lord - in his case, I think that meant just the Emperor himself). But he's very far from objective, while he does strive to be just, and in any case he doesn't stop wars - he did, but not in his role as a roving judge/detective.

The "completely objective" witness instead appears in several works by R. A. Heinlein; called a Fair Witness, such a character is trained to always speak from verifiable evidence (when asked, "what colour is that barn yonder?", they answer, "it appears to have been painted white on this side" - because they can't in good faith make hypotheses about the other side).

  • Oh, "Mountains of Mourning" where Miles has to ride out to a village where a young woman's "mutie" child was killed by her mother. Good thought!
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 20:26
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    Also: In later books in the series, Miles ended up as an "Imperial Auditor" who had very broad authority to "speak with the Emperor's Voice" in his role as a high-level investigator and troubleshooter. For instance, he automatically had the security clearance to let him read any highly-classified government files that could possibly be relevant, and he could give orders to senior military officers. In practice, though, if he thought you were guilty of treason (for instance), he'd probably just order someone to arrest you so that the details could be hashed out in a regular court.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 20:42

Well, there's the organisation called the Starways Congress in Speaker for the Dead, the second book in Orson Scott Card's Enders Game cycle.

This is the highest legislative body for the Hundred Colonies, the space colonies of the human race. Ender, in his role as roving speaker, is like a judge, but he is only as objective as neccessary to carry out his duties - after all, he's human; which is the point of the entire cycle. In his role as speaker, he investigates the life of a person after their death and is authorised to speak on their behalf. In this he is taking sides, but then again, in law, despite its objective quality, also takes sides; for any judgement must come down on one side or the other.

  • Why the downvotes? It's not a perfect match but worth a shot.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 2:28

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