A Trial by Forfeiture was a special proceedings of a committee of the Landsraad whose intent was to judge the heinous crimes of a nobleman who had committed a severe, unlawful, and grievous offense.
Duke Leto's Trial by Forfeiture in 10,156 AGEdit
One of the few times that a Trial had actually been involked had been in 10,156 AG when it had been believed that the newly ascended Duke Leto Atreides I had ordered his Atreides vessel to fire upon a Bene Tleilax ship inside of a Guild heighliner. In actuality, House Harkonnen had fired the two blasts from their secret no-ship, and destroyed the Tleilaxu craft.
Immediately, most of the spacecraft that witnessed the horrifying event assumed the offending shots had come from House Atreides, since the invisible Harkonnen craft had fiored from just under the Atreides space-faring vessel. Within minutes Leto had to turn on his ship's shields, to avoid being fired upon immediately from the other Great Houses' starships. Soon afterwards, the guiding Navigator of the heighliner demanded to know why the shield was on, as it was interfering with the Guild-crafts' Holtzman engine. Leto explained the situation, and demanded a full Trial by Forfetiure.
A few weeks later, the Landsraad Trial convened, headed up by Lord Bain O'Garee of the planet Hagal. Also on the tribunal were Baron Terkillian Sor of IV Anbus, Duke Prad Vidal of Ecaz, Count Anton Miche, and Rincon of House Fazeel. Leto was represented by two brilliant Ellacan attorneys, Clere Ruitt and Bruda Viol, who had been offered by the exiled Ixian Ambassador Cammar Pilru.
As the Trial progressed, Leto was unable to prove that his ship had not fired the shots upon the Tleilaxu vessel. Just as the O'Garee was ready to pronounce sentence upon the teenage Duke, his distaff cousin Crown Prince Shaddam Corrino IV strode into the Landsraad Chamber, and spoke a hearty defense of not only Leto, but of the thousands of years lineage of House Atreides. He talked of how both of the Tleilaxu starships could have been destroyed by debris, and at the end of the speech, he gave Leto a token of affection, the Corrino heirloom, the Emperor's Blade. Shaddam then demanded that the Trial end with Leto's acquittal, over the vehement protests of the Tleilaxu. O'Garee and the rest of the tribunal wished to be on the future Emperor's "good side", and promptly released Leto, and proclaimed him innocent.