Friday, September 15, 2006

Judicial "accountability" -- Visigoth way

I submit to you the reader that the Visigoths 1300 years ago had a much better handle on keeping judges honest and judicial accountability than we do today.

The Visigothic Code
XVIII. Where a Judge Refuses to Hear a Litigant, or Decides Fraudulently, or Ignorantly.
If any one should file a complaint against another before a judge, and the latter should refuse to hear him, or deny him the use of his seal, or, under different pretexts, should delay the trial of his cause, not permitting it to be heard, through favor to a client or a friend, and the plaintiff can prove this by witnesses,the judge shall give to him to whom he has refused a hearing, as compensation for his trouble, a sum equal to that which the plaintiff would have received from his adversary by due course of law; and he who brought the suit may have it continued until the time appointed by law; [28] and, when it comes before the court for trial, he shall receive the judgment to which he is entitled. But if the plaintiff should be unable to prove either the fraud or undue procrastination of the judge, the latter shall make oath that he, through no malice, nor through favor or friendship, has delayed the hearing, and, by reason of this oath, the judge shall in no manner be deemed guilty...
XIX. Where a Judge, either through Convenience to Himself, or through Want of Proper Knowledge, Decides a Cause Improperly.
If any judge should render judgment for the sake of gain, and direct that any one should be treated with injustice, he who has been benefited by the decision of the said judge shall make restitution. And the judge himself, who has thus acted contrary to the precepts of equity, shall surrender to the losing party the same amount of his own property, as he had ordered him to be deprived of; that is to say, that in addition to the restitution that has been made, he shall, in satisfaction for his improper conduct, give to him whom he unjustly condemned, a sum equal to that which was disposed of by his decree. But if he should not have sufficient property wherewith to make amends, he shall be deprived of all that he is known to possess, and shall be delivered as a slave to him to whom he is indebted, or, after having been exposed in public, he shall receive fifty lashes. But if he shall have rendered an unjust judgment through ignorance, and can declare under oath that he has done this only through want of knowledge, and not through partiality or cupidity, or for the sake of profit, his judgment shall be invalid, and he himself shall not be considered guilty.(6)
[29]

1 comment:

Good Ol' Boy said...

Smart people, my ancestors.