The Ancient Library

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On this page: Judicial Procedure (continued)



senate and the emperor had an extra- | ordinary jurisdiction in criminal cases. The senatorial court, which met under the presidency of the consuls, followed the pro­ cedure of the qu&stiones, but its proceed­ ings were not public. The cases which it tried were usually those which affected > persons of high standing charged with political or official offences. The decision of the court took the form of a sSnatus consultum, bat had all the force of a legal sentence. The emperor, in virtue of his tribunician authority, had the power of neutralizing it by his veto. An interval of ten days occurred between sentence and execution, in pursuance of an order of Tiberius made in 22 a.d. But up to that time the sentence was carried out imme­ diately after being passed, even in capital cases. Capital punishment had in the re­ publican times been practically abolished, but was at once reinstated under the imperial regime. The emperor himself usually exercised his jurisdiction only over his own procurators and the higher officers of the army, notably in the case of strictly military offences. He acted as sole judge even when he invited the assistance of a jury (consUium). No formal act of accusa­ tion was required. Cases which he was unwilling to settle himself he would gene­ rally hand over to the yticestiones or the senatorial tribunals. The power of inflict­ ing sentence of death on Roman citizens was confined originally to the emperor and senate; but in later times the emperor, by a special mandate, transferred it for pur­ poses of provincial administration, to the governors of the provinces, whose juris­ diction extended to all citizens, with the exception of the high military officers, i senators, and the dlciiriOnes of a munl- ciplum. (See decorio, 2.) The criminal jurisdiction in Rome and its neighbourhood for a radius of 100 miles was given to the prafectus urbi, whose court ended by becoming the chief criminal court in the capital. The rest of Italy was placed under the jurisdiction of the prsefect of the Prse- torian Guard. From the decision of these representatives of the imperial authority an appeal was allowed to the emperor. But, after the 3rd century a.d., the appeal j mostly came before the prsefect of the body­ guard, whose judgment was generally final, j The senatorial court came finally to acting I only on the motion of the emperor. |

The Roman civil jurisdiction, like the criminal, belonged originally to the king,

from whom it passed to the consuls. With them it remained until a special magis­tracy, the praetorship, was instituted for it. (See praetor.) According to ancient usage, the highest judicial authorities did not superintend the case from beginning to end. Their action was usually confined to the preparation of the case and such measures as its course made absolutely necessary, as (supposing their interference was required) in ordering execution of sentence. The investigation proper, and the passing of judgment, they as a rule handed over (with the consent of the parties) either to a single judge (see jddex) or rlcuperatores (see recuperatores) appointed for the occasion, or to the judicial collegia of the indices decemviri and ccntumviri, ap­pointed, independently of special cases, for the whole year. As an introduction of the case, the plaintiff (pitltor) was required to bring the defendant (reus) before the tribu­nal of the magistrate (in ins}. In the case of the praetor, this would be his tribunal in the Forum. If the accused failed either to obey the personal summons of the plain­tiff (in ius vScatio) or to appear by his representative (vindex), the plaintiff could, after calling a witness to attest that his summons was in order, take him before the preetor by force. In later time, to meet the cases in which the accused was unable to answer the summons immediately, the vculimonium was introduced. This was a promise, given by the accused on the security of sureties, that he would appear in court on a certain day, or if he failed would pay a sum of money, the amount of which depended on the nature of the question in dispute. The proceedings in iure, or before the magistrate, took place-according to certain definite formal rules, the so-called Isgls actWnes, the commonest of which was the actio sacramentl. This was accompanied by the utterance of a solemn formula partly by the magistrate, partly by the parties, and by certain sym­bolical acts. The smallest departure from the traditional formula involved the loss of the suit. The trial thus commenced, the next step was the iudicis ddtw, or appoint­ment of a judge to try it. The case came on before the appointed index (in indicia) on a day appointed. It was first shortly stated; the parties or their advocates made their speeches, the evidence was tested and judgment pronounced.

The cumbrous machinery of the Icgia actiones gave way afterwards, in all cases

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