Appealing a Heraldic Return

Appealing a Heraldic Return

by Daniel de Lincolia (Tim McDaniel)

© 1998, 2002 Timothy McDaniel.

This is the 13 June 2002 revision and is reprinted with permission of the author.

A client with a returned item is annoyed. If they disagree with the ruling and want to appeal it, they're annoyed enough to make a fuss about it in writing. If the appeal isn't done right, they'll get even more annoyed with the next return. Therefore, such cases need extra attention and care. In this article, I hope to tell you how to do it well.

If you read no more of this article, at least read this, from the precedents of Baldwin of Erebor, Laurel King of Arms, from his cover letter of 8 June 85, page 2:

If you are writing an appeal, read the original ruling carefully and try to respond to each of the objections. Be concise--the more superfluous material you drag in, the harder it is for someone else to follow your arguments. Be factual--your purpose is to present new information or reasoning. Above all, be polite--the objective is to get things right, not to win at any cost.

Appeals are covered in the SCA College of Arms Administrative Handbook. Quotes here are from the 2001 edition, but they haven't changed in years. Several sections apply from Part IV, "General Procedures for Submissions".

First, echoing Rules for Submission I.1, there's IV.A:

A. Responsibility for Procedural Requirements - The submitter bears the primary responsibility for meeting procedural requirements, but can and should be advised by heraldic officers at the local level and above.

C. "Completed Paperwork" just says that complete paperwork must be given, like a normal submission requires.

Section D includes:

D. Payment of Fees - ... no fee may be charged for appeals, change of holding name, submission of alternate forms for standard titles or designations, proposed protection for mundane items, corrections of spelling or blazon[,] or resubmissions made within a year of the most recent notification of return.

The major part is this:

E. Right of Appeal - A submitter shall have the right to appeal any return to Laurel. All appeals must be supported by new documentation, other proof that the original submission was returned in error or by compelling evidence that the submission was not properly considered at the time of return. Appeals must be submitted through the appropriate heraldic officers specified for such actions by the submitter's kingdom of residence. Such officers must forward the appeal in a timely manner, with or without recommendations, to Laurel. If Laurel rules against the appeal, a second appeal may be made directly to the Board of Directors.

Note that if an officer returns a client's submission, the client can always appeal through that officer, and the officer must forward the appeal, no matter how bad the appeal. The appellate level judges whether the support for the appeal is adequate.

(The attentive reader will note that there's nothing there forbidding a local herald from returning an item. Ansteorra allows it, though some kingdoms don't. However, you'd better be VERY sure of your grounds. You must also follow all the Administrative Handbook procedures for a return. If you don't know what they are, never return anything. It's often more prudent in practice to send it up and let kingdom take the heat for the return, for the kingdom heralds are far away and it's sometimes their job to apepar to be the meanie.)

Please note the argument(s) that must be made: "by new documentation or other proof that the original submission was returned in error or by compelling evidence that the submission was not properly considered at the time of return". That means reasoning from the text of the return, documentation, the Rules for Submission, the Administrative Handbook, precedent, et cetera. "I think the kingdom heralds are being arbitrary" isn't sufficient.

So the first step is get the actual text of the return and to read it. For a return by the Laurel Sovereign of Arms, I'd copy the page of the actual Laurel Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). You can find the return on-line at (the on-line archive of Laurel LoARs). Also, every Principal Herald gets the LoARs ex officio, and most kingdoms have other senior heralds who get them as well. Also, Laurel's name, address, and phone number are in every issue of Tournaments Illuminated and in every kingdom newsletter--and they're there to be used. For a kingdom return, I'd quote the return from the notification letter to the submitter, which should have the return text plus an explanation. Never use a summary or someone else's memory!

Then read the rules cited in their current versions, try to find related precedent, and see the axioms and evidence the returning officer used. Interpreting this may require talking to an experienced commenter, and researching in Laurel precedents, other LoARs, or the Rules. The RfS and Admin Handbook are available from Free Trumpet Press, as are Laurel precedents.

In drafting an appeal, give the submission history and reasons for return. Address every reason for return; one reason is all it takes to return. Give as iron-clad a chain of reasoning as you can. (If you don't have one, maybe the return is well-founded.) Don't use insults or harsh language!

One good example of an appeal is Johann Kiefer Hayden's, item 12 on the May 1995 Ansteorran Internal Letter of Intent. The appeal gave the history and the reason for return: his previous submission, "Per bend sinister gules and azure, two owls contourny Or", was returned by kingdom 1/95 for conflict with Owen FitzEdward, "Per bend sinister gules and azure, two roses Or".

The appeal then quoted RfS X.2, which declares that there is no conflict between certain simple armory with significant change of type of all primary charges. That text gives an example of significant difference of woodpeckers versus mullets, and another of lions and a rose versus fleurs-de-lys and a maunche.

They should have used the then-current exact wording of X.2, but the basic sense hadn't changed. Also, they might have made more explicit the identification of the primary charges, and the reasons why they're both simple armory and why they're significantly different in the X.2 senses. Nevertheless, it was "proof that the original submission was returned in error", as the Admin Handbook requires. It was a well-founded appeal and it succeeded.

An unsuccessful example is the name appeal by Lynette la Tisserande des Mots (item 9 of the 7/92 Ansteorran ILoI). Star returned it 11/91: "The College found 'la Tisserande des Mots' ('weaver of words') to be extremely unlikely as a Period name formation. In period a weaver would have worked on something material; a bard or poet would have been explicitly styled as such and not have used such an abstract metaphor. Absent evidence that this is compatible with Period French naming practice, it is returned for being Not Period Style."

The appeal argued that it was metaphorical (one of the problems the principal herald mentioned, not a solution), took a gratuitous swipe at the College, and gave a persona story (we don't register persona stories). The final line seemed to be a "throwaway" line, yet it was the only actual evidence adduced: an undated quote from a poem in which "weaver of peace" was used as an adjective. Therefore, there was no substantial "new documentation or other proof that the original submission was returned in error or ... compelling evidence that the submission was not properly considered at the time of return". Indeed, no good evidence of period style was ever presented and the appeal did not address kingdom's objections. As further nails in the coffin, commenters then found other evidence that it was not period style. The appeal was returned.