Saturday, April 24, 2004

One of the benefits of living with a grad student (besides having someone around who can converse about things other than law or politics) is that he passes along to me any random tidbits of medieval legal knowledge he comes across in his studies. How else would I hear about Visigothic ideas of due process?

If an accuser failed to prove his case by direct evidence, he was permitted to use torture to obtain a confession. However, use of torture was conditioned on an oath that it was not being used maliciously and production of a written description of the crime by the accuser to compare to any confession obtained. Torture was limited to three days. If no confession emerged, the accuser fell victim to whatever penalty would have fallen upon the guilty party, save that in lieu of the death penalty the accuser was enslaved to the innocent accused. If the accuser killed his victim during the course of the torture, he was delivered to the family of the accused to be killed.

I wonder if Dershowitz knows about this?
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