Traditional Noble Court Structure of Volta
In Volta, a large landholder such as a Baron has a few positions that are key to the operation of their court and the administration of their lands. First are their Lords/Ladies, which are nobles who have been granted lands to administer and protect for their liege. Also in this category is the Stallari, or Marshal, which is the Liege's second in command, and is a title of station granted only to a Lord or Lady. Second are the Knights (Thanes in the old tongue), who are required to furnish (at their own expense) a group of at least twenty armed, armored, horsed, and provisioned troops at all times to be at their Liege's command. Since the title of Knight is a military title, they are often suffixed with their military designation as well, such as Knight Lieutenant, Knight Captain, or Knight Commander. Last are those titled to a station, such as Magistrates, guild leaders, and Sheriffs. Some unique positions exist as well, such as Warden of Icewood and Captain of the Lake, which are noble titles over large geographic features. Spouses of nobles are honorary Lords or Ladies as appropriate but do not share oaths or power with their spouse.
Earls and Barons
Earls do hold station and respect above the rank of Baron, but it should be noted that Barons are sworn vassals of the Duke and not the Earls. However, the Earls do carry Ducal authority over matters of justice, taxation, the military, and land management that overrides Baronial authority when deemed necessary by the Earl. Barons do swear a secondary oath to the Earls as well, but it is very rare that the Duke countermands an Earl's order.
Proper Form of Address
In matters of formal address, Voltan nobles should be referred to by their station, military rank if any, full name, and then title(s), such as: Lord Commander Einar Greywolf, Stallari to Duke Ivarr Voltan, Lord Magistrate of Volta. In conversation or informal occasions, Voltan nobles regularly request people refer to them by their given name without formality to show that they do not separate themselves from the common freemen of Volta. So, if you know Einar Greywolf, or have at least been introduced to him once, merely calling him Einar is perfectly acceptable and is encouraged. Formal address is reserved for appropriate situations. Kneeling or bowing to someone other than those you have sworn an oath of fealty to is not common in Volta and some nobles discourage the practice as others observing may view you as a retainer to the person you are bowing to. Exceptions to this are matters of formal assembly or address on matters of noble or judicial business. It should be noted that the feminine of Earl is Countess.
Noble Authority and Jurisdiction
High justice or crimes punishable by branding of outlaw, oath-breaker, or death can only be presided over by nobles on their own lands. Earls and Barons are both Ducal vassals and have authority to dispense high justice throughout Volta. However, protocol dictates that they have to cede this authority to the noble who has direct control of those lands if they are present or reasonably accessible. Matters of low justice, which are all other crimes not covered by the above, can be dispensed with by any Voltan noble throughout Volta, however the protocol listed above applies here as well. Matters of low justice are usually dealt with by swift, on-the-spot judgment. Sheriffs and Magistrates also can directly handle matters of low justice within their appointed lands.
Council of Lords
From time to time the Duke convenes a Council of Lords to decide matters of great import to the realm. Those holding Lord/Lady titles, Barons, and Earls are part of this council. Thanes/Knights and administrative titleholders, such as Sheriffs and Chancellors, are not privy to this council. The Duke convenes this council to stay with the traditions of Volta dating back hundreds of years where a Great Chief would sit in council with his High Chiefs.