By Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman
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1 In private disputes, the plaintiﬀ appears to have been responsible for securing his opponent’s appearance in court. Nonetheless, the court could summon a party to court, and at Nuzi there is even 24 Slaves do appear frequently in the Neo-Sumerian court records but only on the issue of their status—claiming freedom or being claimed as slaves. The Hittite Instructions to the Commander of the Border Guard order him, on his circuit through the towns under his command, to judge the lawsuits of male and female slaves and single women (iii 31–32).
6 Oracle The oracle was a divinatory procedure, a means of consulting a god on a speciﬁc question—in principle, one that could be answered yes or no. It could thus be used in non-judicial contexts as well as trials. Oracular procedures to decide judicial matters are attested for certain only in Egypt and Israel. In Egypt, it involved interpreting the movements of an image of the god carried on a litter; in Israel, the casting of lots. 7 Presumptions The court might avoid resort to supra-rational procedures by use of evidentiary presumptions.
Slaves appear in litigation in the same way as free persons in the Neo-Babylonian period, when they acted as agents for the great merchant houses. 24 Children are not attested as parties. w; Old Assyrian ràbißu; Nuzi pu¢u). It is doubtful if an advocate in the modern sense is meant: the Egyptian representative may have been an oﬃcial who assisted the party in the preparation of his case, while the Nuzi term (lit. “substitute”) suggests a representative for an absent party. 2 Procedure If there was any distinction in procedure, it was not between criminal and civil cases (which are anyway anachronistic categories; see 8 below) but between private disputes and cases involving vital interests of the state or the public, such as an oﬀense against the king or the gods.
A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Handbook of Oriental Studies; Handbuch der Orientalistik) by Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman