Justice... sort of.
Justice in the City of the Sword is not the same justice as is practiced in the more civilized western nations to the north of Shem. Uruk is a city driven by a ravenous brand of commerce where, often, coin and status determines what sort of justice one guilty of a crime might receive. A word in the right ear, or a coin in the right pocket might see charges and accusations vanish entirely. This inherent moral corruption has given Uruk a free-wheeling reputation of lawlessness that has attracted many rough-and-tumble types from all over the vastness of the Thurian continent. Mercenaries, cutthroats, brigands, and petty thieves mill about its streets like wolves in pursuit of profitable meals.
Learned men of Nemedia have said that justice in the decadent cities of the south and east is little more than a farce. While there is certainly some truth to their cynical appraisal of such cultural differences, all acknowledge the heavy penalties that befall unfortunate souls that will not or can not afford to bribe its guardsmen and appointed officials.
The city guard of Uruk is sworn to protect and serve... its own interests. It owes its power to the autonomy granted it in pursuit of this unique brand of 'justice.' Not only do guardsmen make arrests, they also bring charges and levy fines. There are no courts in Uruk, no lawyers, no juries. But the city guard does have certain unspoken responsibilities and obligations to the Trade-Prince and Uruk's nobility. The primary function of the guard is the protection of the Trade-Prince and the city's upper echelon. Another important function is to generate denars for the city's coffers and to provide bodies for indentured servitude.
It is expected that the guard will accept bribes to line their own pockets, but guardsmen are also expected to kick up a percentage of their earnings to their captain who will in turn kick up to the Trade-Prince and the city's vaults. As is true in many other facets of Uruk's unique brand of culture, it is coin that turns the wheels of the City of the Sword.
It is for these reasons that most forms of punishment involve the levying of considerable fines against the accused. If they cannot pay these fines, they will be moved into indentured servitude. Those capable of doing so will fight off their debt in the arena. Others will be rented out as a cheap source of labor to the city's merchants according to their skills and experience. Once their debts are paid, the crushing weight of slavery will be lifted from their shoulders and they will return to their normal lives.
While the city has a certain air of lawlessness, there are indeed laws amended and presided over by the sitting Trade-Prince. But these laws are flexible and subject to the conditions listed above. Take them with a grain of salt and tread carefully. If all else fails, the accused can, as a last resort, make a direct appeal to the Trade-Prince for their sentences to be overturned.
The Laws of Uruk
I. Those within the lawful bounds of the City of the Sword shall comport themselves in an appropriately civilized manner at all times. Acts of theft, robbery, and burgling shall be met with a severe response from the city guard. Uruk is a city of commerce -- disrupt the flow of that commerce at your own peril.
II. Uruk is a city where the shedding of blood is an almost sacred rite. All of its people are blessed by the sport in the arena games. The spectacle of trained combatants measuring their abilities against one another in a practiced display of violence is one of the highlights of our collective culture. Beyond the bounds of the arena and without official sanction, such acts of violence are expressly forbidden.
III. The heinous act of murder will not be tolerated within Uruk's walls. Any man or woman brought up on charges of such will receive punishment well beyond the standard measure of a heavy fine. The murderer will concede all rights of inheritance and property. The murder's family will share the burden of his or her guilt -- all will be sent from the city into the open desert without supplies, banished and left to their own devices. Attempting to re-enter the city will result in one's execution.
IV. Any acts witnessed by the city guard that are considered disruptive to the flow of commerce in a given area may result in fining depending on the severity of the disruption. Acts such as destroying part of a merchant's stall during a fight, or drunken carousing damaging someone's wares will be dealt with severely.
V. Acts of extreme cruelty towards the enslaved are punishable by law. You may discipline your own property as you see fit, of course, but do not command the slaves of others, or punish them of your own accord. Any damages to said property will be accounted for to double their worth at the expense of the accused. Slaves who are indentured servants of the city are not to be misused. Their labor is provided at a discount to various merchants of Uruk and as such, they are its protected property until their debts are paid. Abuse of an indentured servant of Uruk will be punished severely, sentence handed down by the sitting Trade-Prince directly.
VI. Interference in the weekly games will not be tolerated. Fighters charged with accepting bribes to affect the outcome of their bouts will be discharged from the games entirely and banned from all forms of fair competition. Those who would exert their influence upon the games through bribery or other forms of persuasion will be met with severe penalties at the Trade-Prince's discretion.
VII. If a merchant's stall, cart, or any other place of business is left unattended for more than a single week without prior explanation, or where doubts might exist about the owner's return, competitors and employees of said business may petition the Trade-Prince to take over said absentee's place of business.
VIII. Citizens and visitors of Uruk are welcome to pursue whatever form of worship they like as long as these forms of worship do not run afoul of other laws. However, blasphemy against Ishtar is where the tolerance of the city ends. If the guard judges that one has acted offensively towards our patron deity, fines and even banishment may be levied.