The Roman Legal System

In 451 BC the Patricians and the Plebeians were always fighting, so the two classes made an agreement that a set of laws were to be written down so that there would be less disagreements.

The Twelve Tables. One of the Plebeian tribunes suggested that the laws were written down so the judges could not make arbitrary rulings. There were 10 men elected to make these laws and in 451 BC they came up with the Twelve Tables. The twelve tables were a set of procedural rules on how to make laws unlike the laws of Hammurabi where there were laws for specific situations.

The Jurist. Romes most important contribution to legal developments in Europe was the Jurist. His job was to study, analyze, and interpret laws as well as develop the science of law. That job was greatly developed by Gnaeus Flavius in 300 BC. He also made those legal jargon words used in court like, “the court in now in session” and “order in the court”

Anyone who claimed a crime had to summon the suspect to appear in court, it the suspect did not come the accuser could use force. There were also lawyers, but only for the accused. The jury would say if they were innocent or guilty but the judge would make the final judgment. Judges could also use local laws in the final verdict. The criminals were not in-prisoned but exiled and death was very rare, and for smaller crimes fines were common. Once the empire was established, a citizen could appeal to all the way to Caesar to hear the case.

There was a jury just like today, and they would vote innocent or guilty then the judge would make up his mind.

Things from Romes legal system that are still in place.

1. Checks and Balances.
2. Separation of powers.
3. Vetoes.
4. Filibusters.
5. Quorum requirements.
6. Term limits.
7. Impeachment.

After the mid-6th century. Roman law continued as a part of the German laws and was in effect in the Byzantine Empire. The jus gentium is one of the most widely represented in modern legal systems, for it is the basis of commercial law even in those countries that follow common law.

In the early 4th century the Roman law was fully developed. The original text of the Twelve Tables has not been preserved. The tablets were probably destroyed when Rome was conquered and burned by the Gauls in 387 BC. After the establishment of the empire, making new laws largely passed from the praetors and from the popular assemblies into the hands of the emperors, sometimes operating through the senate. Different types of imperial enactments called constitutions were issued a lot.

The Roman laws were greatly influenced by the greeks and the Code of Solon, which was a code of laws embracing the whole of public and private life.

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