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If the Jedi Order had arrested Palpatine, would the court have declared Palpatine guilty quickly based on proof that he was a Sith? Is there any rule stating that?

Notes:

  • The word quickly is important because finding proof of his political crimes would be difficult and time-consuming (it could take decades).
  • I am assuming that the Jedi can prove that Palpatine is a Sith (e.g., using a security hologram of his conversation with Anakin, in which Palpatine declares that he is one).
  • For this question, I am also removing all of Palpatine’s murders of Jedi from the equation.

Update:
This is a generic question about any Sith, not just Palpatine. In other words, could a Sith introduce himself to the Republic to have a peaceful life demanding protection from the Jedi if the case arises?

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According to Wookieepedia, an old anti-Sith law was added to the Republic's Galactic Constitution thousands of years before the events of the movies. This law banned the Sith religion. However, the law was removed from the Constitution before the Clone Wars so that the Constitution outlawed persecution based on religious affiliation. Wookieepedia cites the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, in which Chancellor Palpatine mentions such persecution was illegal. Consequently, it was not a crime to simply be a Sith.

If Palpatine had been brought to trial merely on the basis that he was a Sith it would not have been possible to convict him quickly. Depending on how the Republic defines treason, it may have been possible to convict Palpatine as a traitor to the Republic for working with the Separatists as Darth Sidious. However, this is complicated because Palpatine was the legitimately elected head of state of the Republic. Furthermore, as Mace Windu states in Episode III, it may have been impossible to convict him of anything:

Windu: I'm going to put an end to this, once and for all!

Anakin: You can't. He must stand trial.

Windu: He has control of the Senate and the Courts. He's too dangerous to be left alive!

The fact that Mace Windu himself didn't think Palpatine could be convicted (at least not quickly) is good canon evidence that it was not a crime to simply be a Sith (and thus Palpatine could not be quickly convicted).

Unfortunately for the Jedi, when Mace Windu attempted to summarily execute the legitimately elected Supreme Chancellor, Windu (and by extension the Jedi Order) became guilty of treason. That's certainly how Palpatine viewed it (and he's arguably right, again depending on how the Republic defines treason):

It's treason, then.

This gave Palpatine justification (as he argued it) to issue Order 66 and have the Jedi executed.

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    Legally, I doubt the whole Jedi Order would be culpable for the assassination attempt. Even though Mace Windu was accompanied by several Jedi Council members, I don't think it was enough to constitute a binding resolution on behalf of the "will of the council" or the order, so to speak. Yoda, the grandmaster, certainly wasn't present for the decision, which appeared to be made pretty much on the fly once Anakin revealed the truth to the masters present at the time. – TylerH Mar 28 '15 at 17:41
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    Mace Windu should find out if hacking someone to death is illegal in the Republic first. – Oldcat Mar 30 '15 at 20:46
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    Palpatine couldn't be convicted because of his political power. Even if "being a Sith" wasn't illegal, killing three Jedi trying to arrest you almost certainly is. But make it public, and he could convince people that they were trying to kill him and stage a coup. And he did. – KSmarts Mar 31 '15 at 22:02
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    @TylerH It wasn't just that Windu decided to execute the Chancellor. Palpatine claimed that they had all intended to kill him from the start. If that were true, then the Jedi Council would have been guilty of treason. If it were just Windu's action, you're probably right. – KSmarts Mar 31 '15 at 22:07
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    @Sam I don't think that interpretation makes sense. Palpatine is saying that because the Jedi were trying to arrest him, he was going to fight them and accuse them of treason. And that's what he did -- he used the Jedi assassination attempt to justify his issuance of Order 66 because the Jedi were attempting to kill the legitimately elected Supreme Chancellor without trial. Palpatine had already committed treason in the sense that he started the Clone Wars and secretly controlled the Separatists, so it doesn't make sense for him to say he's about to commit treason by attacking the Jedi. – Null Dec 17 '15 at 22:32
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Probably not. Count Dooku and others were hunted by the Republic for being part of the Confederation. It's never been about them being Sith I think.

But despite that, it always seemed to me like the Jedi were respected enough so people didn't really try to oppose them or any of their decisions out of respect (and possibly a bit of fear as well). Also see my answer two this question, as it's related. So I could imagine their word having at least some weight in some potential trial (which might also have been the reason for Palpatine to declare them traitors).

However, in the end it probably doesn't matter either way, because in Episode III Mace Windu concludes:

Windu: "I am going to end this, once and for all."

Anakin: "You can't. He must stand trial."

Windu: "He has control of the Senate and the Courts. He's too dangerous to be left alive.

While this doesn't prove any legislation or law, it clearly shows that given enough power and influence, it wouldn't have made any difference. Force pulling (dragging not being an option :)) him to court wouldn't have worked.

5

I'm not aware of a specific law prohibiting being a Sith... BUT, presumably, they fall under any random number of other laws (as Stalin's chief prosecutor Vyshinsky infamously said "If there's a man, a law to convict him under will be found").

E.g:

  • Conspiracy to murder a law enforcement officer (Jedi).

  • Conspiring with the enemy (Separatists).

  • Conspiracy to overthrow lawful government (although, as a armchair in-universe lawyer, I am not sure that can be proven in the court of law for Sidious himself based on his actions).

As a matter of fact, I'm not aware that the armed conflict with the prior Sith has officially concluded (e.g. there was no signed "peace agreement") since the last conflict with the Sith; and thus it might be argued that any Sith is actually an armed combatant in that still-active armed conflict. I'm sure a second-year law associate could poke holes in that argument too, but the Republic courts are likely about as corrupt as their Senate and thus having an iron-clad legal theory may be less important than having a plausible excuse.

2

The Jedi for thousands of years were the guardians of the Republic and the Sith were their enemy ergo the Sith were usually enemy's of the Republic but that doesn't mean that it is illegal to be a Sith. Palpatine couldn't be convicted for simply being a Sith. But being a Sith means you use the dark side and it's hard to find a Sith that hasn't committed horrible atrocities and that is what a Sith would be convicted of. And as for a Sith living peacefully under the protection of the Jedi, well that would never happen for two reasons.

  1. Like I said earlier the Jedi are the guardians of the republic and for a very good reason. The Sith. The Jedi are the only ones (except for maybe the Mandalorians) who stand a chance at fending the Sith off. So what would the Jedi protect a Sith form? Himself? It just wouldn't make sense. And yes I know that there are other threats to the republic but the Sith are the main ones.

  2. Sith by there nature hate the Jedi and everything they stand for including the republic so no true Sith would ever want to live in peace under the Jedi's protection. In fact look at the first line of their creed "Peace is a lie, there is only Passion" this would seem to suggest that the Sith hate peace or at least they don't recognize its existence. Wich is why a Sith could never live peacefully in the republic.

In short although it isn't technically a crime to be a Sith if you are one then you most likely have committed crimes that you could be convicted of.

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In another words, could a Sith introduce himself to the Republic to have a peaceful life demanding protection from the Jedi if case arises?

Doubtful. The Sith employed the Dark Side of the Force, drawing "power from raw emotions and feelings such as anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, fear, aggression, megalomania, and unrestrained passion." (Wookiepedia) Given those characteristics, it's doubtful a Sith would pursue a "peaceful life." Even if they attempted to mask their true selves and their intentions, attempt to portray themselves as benign, the violent history of the Sith would precede them.

  • I am not talking about reality. Can he say that to Republic to get protection? – Captain Cold Mar 31 '15 at 2:18
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Believing in the Sith Religion and philosophy is legal. However, using an offensive and lethal weapon (lightsaber) without being authorized to since only Jedi are authorized to use lightsaber a just as in some countries you need gun license, Unknown dark power (Force Lightning), murdering 3 Jedi coming to legally arrest you, attempting to assassinate senators in the republic, conspiring with Count Dooku and General Grievous, and conspiring to kill the Jedi with Order 66 and use the order irresponsibly is illegal. Also, the republic would probably know what a Sith is because senators and military commanders would probably be smart enough to figure out and the Republic military also encountered lightsaber and force users such as Count Dooku, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, and Savage Oppress and the Jedi are Generals in the republic military and law enforcement departments so they have the authority to participate in political affairs.

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    Thanks for answering.:) However, we usually like to see evidence. How do we know it was legal to be a Sith? – Adamant May 13 '17 at 7:00

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