The court resumed from recess for deliberation after only long enough as it must have taken to draft their opinion.
"Tricky," started Admiral Paris.
"This is a thorny issue. The defense has presented convincing evidence that at least some holographic beings meet the letter and the spirit of the definition of life. The prosecution has presented convincing evidence that at least some holographic beings fall quite short. Yet clearly such beings as the Voyager EMH and Michael O'Sullivan are self-aware and of self-determinant nature. A ruling by this court that all holograms are not intelligent beings would not be fair - yet this court doubts that defense is seriously proposing that Lord Chaotica be given manumission, allowed to set up housekeeping on Earth, and allowed to find himself a job.
"A ruling by this court that holograms are living beings would necessitate action by Starfleet to classify which of those livings beings are intelligent life and which are not, and then to create guidelines for the proper care of those which are not, analagous to regulations governing the maintenance of organic pets and zoological specimens. A tremendous undertaking, to say the least.
"But Starfleet doesn't exist for the purpose of taking the easy way out.
"This court rules in favor of the defense. Further, this court will draft a recommendation to the chiefs of staff for the formation of a review board in the headquarters JAG office to create, implement and enforce such guidelines as this court has envisioned, and to recommend to the Federation Council that member planets be advised to create similar review boards. This court shall recommend that at least one hologram actively serve on the Starfleet review board at all times, and that the Voyager EMH be a founding member of the Starfleet review board and serve it as his Voyager service allows, including active participation in its initial member selection during Voyager's present layover for refit.
"Case dismissed." Paris rang the bell three times.
The Starfleet JAG, much to the EMH's astonishment, rose and advanced on him with hand outstretched. "Congratulations," she said. "Never have I fought so hard and hoped to lose."
The EMH took a moment to formulate a reply. "Well, if it's any consolation, it wasn't at all apparent that you wanted to lose!"
"Wasn't it?" the Doctor smiled to Janeway and the EMH as the JAG moved on. "She is wearing a Starfleet uniform ...
"She could have objected again to my last line of questioning with Captain Sisko as soon as I said 'soul'. Properly, she ought to have done. But she couldn't. She wanted to hear the answers as much as anyone did."
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