Level 2, Ministry of Magic
Judicial branch of the Ministry
The Wizengamot is wizarding Britain's high court of law. 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.
While 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 of 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 does over the British and Commonwealth Parliaments.
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, as the original hearing was supposed to be in Amelia Bones's office, and that Dumbledore himself noted the unnatural change to press forward with a full trial on a simple case of underage magic due to Fudge's haste in law changing.
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".
Behind the scenes
- In the video game adaption of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix it is Arthur Weasley who mentions a full Wizengamot, implying that this is the same as in the book and film adaptions.
- There are several differences between the appearance of the Wizengamot in the film adaptation and how they are descried in the novel
- The robes in the film have a more formal appearance to them.
- In the novel, the members of the Wizengamot are described as plum coloured robes while in the movie, the robes are more of a red colour.
- Black robes are also worn by a number of members, including Cornelius Fudge, Amelia Bones and Dolores Umbridge.
- None of the robes have the embroidered silver letter W on them.
- Along with the difference of robes in the film, the members of Wizengamot are seen wearing judicial headwear, that match the colour of their robes, which is not mentioned at all in the novel.
- The headwear that the members of the Wizengamot wear in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, appears to similar to Toque, judicial headwear that various French magistrates once wore.
- The headwear also is similar to the red toque that is worn by the justices of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.
- Another type of headwear that is similar in appearance is the Biretta which is worn occasionally by advocates in various law courts.
- The Wizengamot logo seen in the Harry Potter films bears the motto ignorantia juris neminem excusat, a combination of the legal terms ignorantia juris non excusat and ignorantia legis neminem excusat, both of which roughly mean "ignorance of the law excuses no one".
- 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