Admiral Paris, presiding over the court-martial, rang the bell three times. "Opening statements. Prosecution?"
The Starfleet JAG rose, having assumed the case for the prosecution herself. This case would have ramifications through the Federation and known space. If the Starfleet ruling were appealed to the Federation supreme court, it was historically unlikely to be overturned. It would make law. Right or wrong, the case for the prosecution had to be tight.
"Under Federation law when the status of any entity or entities as intelligent beings is under contest in the adversarial process, those entities are assumed intelligent until proven not intelligent in court. This is the reason for the label 'prosecution' being given Starfleet's case.
"And it is the only reason, for Starfleet is the accused here. The prosecution shall refute these allegations of wrongdoing by Starfleet, the supposed wrongdoings being against a collection of mere starship hardware - claims made by, or more likely only on behalf of, that hardware.
"Any analogy to the Louvois ruling is a false analogy. The android Data was conceived from the first by his creators as an autonomous, self-contained, self-aware entity. The prosecution will show that hologram entities are neither autonomous nor self-contained, and that any self-awareness they maintain is so artificial as to be manipulated as a matter of course by their creators.
"In short, where Data was correctly found not to be property, holograms - including the EMH of USS Voyager - are."
She sat, and the Doctor rose from the defense table where he sat with Captain Janeway and the EMH. Though he was there by dint of his status as a Starfleet officer he was not in uniform. No one who knew him or his history with Starfleet was surprised, and the JAG's objection that his black suit was intended to evoke images of Abraham Lincoln had been met by the Doctor himself with calm derision of his own lack of height.
"Sirs," he addressed the judges, "it is not the belief of the defendants that Starfleet has willfully or knowingly perpetrated any wrong on anyone. Yet even the wise maintain unexamined assumptions.
"In the case which led to the ruling already referenced by prosecution counsel, Captain Jean-Luc Picard successfully argued before a Starfleet Judge Advocate General that his android officer Lt. Commander Data was a free living being, rather than property, with all the characteristics and rights of living beings.
"Yet when Commander Data later chose to reproduce himself - certainly within the rights of, nay within the definition of, a living being - Captain Picard was only the first of several high-ranking Starfleet officials to treat the offspring, Lal, in a manner contradictory to his own previous argument and to the resultant ruling.
"The best of the best of the best still have blind spots. It is our intention to expose just such a blind spot. Thank you."
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