Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin (First Class), Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.
-- J.K. Rowling, Tales of Beedle the Bard Introduction (TBB)
The Wizengamot is the high court of wizarding law in Britain. The head of the Wizengamot is called the Chief Warlock, an old-fashioned title that denotes “particular skill or achievements” similar to a Muggle knighthood (TBB-WHT).
Dumbledore held that post for years, but was temporarily removed from the post during the summer of 1995. He was reinstated in June of 1996. Those who preside over a hearing or a trial are called the Interrogators. A Court Scribe takes notes of the proceedings. Wizengamot members wear plum-colored robes with an elaborate silver "W" on the left side. Other members of the Wizengamot include a dumpy wizard with a large black mustache and a frizzy-haired witch, both allied with Fudge against Dumbledore and Harry, and two elderly witches who were apparently friendly to Dumbledore.
The full Wizengamot sat in judgement of Harry Potter on August 12, 1995. The hearing took place in Courtroom Ten, which is located on Level 10 of the Ministry of Magic. This courtroom is identical to (and may very well be the same one as) that which Harry saw in the Pensieve when he "attended" several proceedings from Dumbledore's memory. The walls of Courtroom Ten are dark stone, dimly lit by torches.
In the center of the room is a chair with magical chains on it where the accused sits. The court members, of which there are about fifty, sit above overlooking the chair in the judge's balcony. When Harry was being accused, Amelia Bones herself presided. She sat to the left of Cornelius Fudge. Umbridge sat to Fudge's right.
According to the Wizengamot Charter of Rights, the accused is allowed to call witnesses in his or her defense and to be represented by another person. Harry was represented by Dumbledore, much to his surprise, and Mrs. Figg was called as a witness for the defense.
Known members of the Wizengamot, past and present
- Ulick Gamp - 18th century Chief Warlock who became the first Minister for Magic (Pm)
- Dumbledore, Albus - At age 18, British Youth Representative, elected Chief Warlock twice (DH18)
- Amelia Bones Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and Interrogator
- Griselda Marchbanks - Elder
- Tiberius Ogden - Elder
- Cornelius Fudge - Minister for Magic and Interrogator, possibly acting as Chief Warlock
- Dolores Umbridge - Senior Undersecretary to the Minister
- Percy Weasley - Wizengamot Scribe
According to Mr. Ollivander, three Chief Warlocks of the Wizengamot have had chestnut and unicorn hair wands, a combination known for justice (Pm)
Dolores Umbridge's father worked as a janitor as a member of the Department of Magical Maintenance at the Ministry of Magic, but she liked to claim he was a member of the Wizengamot (Pm).
The WOMBAT test pokes fun at the advanced age of many wizards in the Wizengamot. One suggestion listed on a multiple choice question is: "Average age lowered from 87" (JKR-W2). Another string of questions about previous Ministers for Magic has this option repeated over and over: "Several of the oldest Wizengamot wizards walk out in protest at Minister's appointment" (JKR-W3) which implies that the elderly witches or wizards like to protest just for the fun of it, or they protest nearly every Minister for Magic.
The Wizengamot gets its name from the Witan, also known as the Witenagemot, from Anglo-Saxon England. Witan is defined as "an assembly of higher ecclesiastics and important laymen, including king's thegns, that met to counsel the king on matters such as judicial problems."
Thanks to Tom Stermitz for reminding me of this reference from my History of Britain classes. - [SVA]