Level 2, Ministry of Magic
Judicial and legislative branch of the Ministry
The Wizengamot is wizarding Britain's high court of law and parliament. It may be a continuation of the old Wizards' Council. Its administrative headquarters are located in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Magic, whilst the trials take place in the dungeons of the lower levels. The Wizengamot also appears to act as a form of parliament, with various bills passed and legislated in separate sittings to trials, in a similar fashion to that of Muggle Great Britain.
In Muggle Great Britain, the judiciary (courts), legislature (Parliament) and executive (Monarch) are all separate entities, allowing to a significant extent for the Wizarding injustices of 1995 to occur on such a vast scale.
Canonically, whiile court is in session, members wear plum-coloured robes embroidered with a silver letter W .
Structure and Functionality
The Wizengamot is made up of around fifty members. The selection process is unclear, though the Minister for Magic appears to have some control over selection or deselection. In addition, a Court Scribe acts as stenographer. The Minister for Magic, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement preside over the Wizengamot ex officio. There also was a British Youth Representative for people no more than 17 years old. In recent times, the average age a Wizengamot member was 87 years.
Albus Dumbledore held the position of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, except during the period of July 1995 to June 1996, in which he was removed from the post because of his insistence that Lord Voldemort had returned. He was reinstated when the Ministry was forced to acknowledge Voldemort's return, specifically when he appeared in person at the Ministry of Magic in 1996. Given that the Wizengamot was presided over by the Minister for Magic in the 1995 trial of Harry Potter, the period in which Dumbledore had lost this title, it is unclear whether the Minister always heads the Wizengamot, or if he took on the role of Chief Warlock himself. It is also possible that the Chief Warlock acts as an impartial executive figure, much like the Queen of England does over British and Commonwealth Parliaments.
It is unstated how much control the Wizengamot and Minister for Magic have over the passing of decrees, however it can be assumed that they various Educational Decrees introduced by Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge in 1995 did not pass through the Wizengamot, given the general definition of a Decree and the sheer speed at which some were passed. The Wizengamot might however be able to quash these decrees with a majority vote.
Known members of the Wizengamot
- Amelia Bones (deceased)
- Barty Crouch Sr. (former leader) (deceased)
- Elphias Doge
- Albus Dumbledore (deceased)
- Cornelius Fudge (former leader) (dismissed)
- Griselda Marchbanks (resigned)
- Tiberius Ogden (resigned)
- Dolores Umbridge (imprisoned)
- Two elderly witches
- Dumpy, heavily-moustached wizard
- Frizzy-haired witch
Trials appear to be brief and concise. The accused may present witnesses to be questioned by the Wizengamot. A third-party with legal knowledge may speak on behalf of a defendant, fulfilling a similar role to that of a modern barrister. However, no wizarding lawyers seem to exist, and the practice of having a spokesperson on behalf of a defendant appears to be rare.
Aberforth and the goats
Dementor Attack in Little Whinging
- See also: Disciplinary hearing of Harry Potter
In 1995, the Wizengamot tried Harry on a charge of violating the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. Harry had been forced to produce a Patronus to defend himself and his cousin Dudley Dursley against two Dementors. The time of the hearing was changed sometime the night before the trial, and although the Wizengamot sent a letter to Harry informing of this, he missed it. Nonetheless, Albus Dumbledore presented Harry's defence and Cornelius Fudge reluctantly dismissed the charges after a majority ruled in favour of clearing him. It was later revealed that Dolores Umbridge had sent the Dementors to attack Harry in order to silence him.
Percy Weasley later sent a letter to his brother Ron referring to "the whole Wizengamot," implying that this type of trial was unusual. Smaller disciplinary hearings do not require the court's attention at all and are dealt with by a single investigator.
The word "Wizengamot" is a portmanteau formed with the words "wizard" and "Witenagemot." The Witenagemot was a council of powerful nobles who convened to advise and appoint kings in Anglo-Saxon England. The word derives from the Old English for "meeting of wise men" - witan, meaning "wise man" or "counsellor", and gemot, meaning "assembly". So it can be said that "Wizengamot" means "assembly of wizards".
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
Notes and references