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In the Roman constitution a general designation of all judges, whether officials exercising judicial functions or individuals in a private position intrusted on oath with the duty of deciding in either civil or criminal trials. For standing and for extraordinary criminal courts (see Quaestio) the iudices were at first chosen from the number of the senators by agreement of the parties concerned. Gaius Gracchus first introduced a list of iudices (album) for the permanent tribunals (quaestiones perpetuae). At first this list was permanent, but afterwards it was published annually by the praetor urbanus, who had to swear that he would be impartial in his selection of names. Under the Empire, as long as the quaestiones perpetuae existed, it was published by the emperor, who nominated the iudices to hold office for life, and from time to time revised and completed the list. By the lex Sempronia of Gaius Gracchus (B.C. 123), the office of judge was taken away from the senators, who had held it previously, and transferred to the possessors of the knight's census (the equites). In B.C. 80 a lex Cornelia of L. Cornelius Sulla restored it to the Senate. In B.C. 70 the office was equally divided between the senators, the knights, and the tribuni aerarii. These last were once more excluded by Caesar. Augustus formed four decuriae, or divisions, of iudices. Of these the first three were obliged to possess the knight's census, and the last the half of it. Caligula added a fifth decuria.

Under the Empire the judicial functions, hitherto confined to certain definite classes, had become so general in their obligations that it was considered a privilege to be freed from them. This exemption was granted to a man with many children, and, afterwards, to those following the professions of grammarians and teachers. The requisite qualifications, apart from that of property, were that a person should be by birth a citizen, and not less than thirty years of age (after Augustus, not less than twenty-five). The other requirements were bodily and mental capacity, an unblemished reputation, and a long residence in Italy. Under the Republic the number of those who were sworn in varied at different times; under the Empire it was fixed at 4000, and later at 5000. For every court of justice the judges were taken from the general list by lot, and out of this special list the presiding magistrate appointed a definite number for each trial. Out of these a certain number might be challenged and rejected by either side; perhaps the president filled up the vacancies by again drawing lots. The swearing in took place before the trial. When the number of the praetors appointed for the quaestiones was not sufficiently large, a iudex quaestionis was appointed, generally one who had served as aedile.

In civil cases it was customary from early times for the judicial magistrates—i. e. the praetors—to depute the investigation and decision to a person instructed by them and appointed by consent of both sides, who was styled iudex pedaneus (χαμαι δικαστής), and corresponded with the referee of New York state law. The terms arbiter, iudex delegatus, and iudex specialis are also used of such a person. From the time of Augustus a single judge (iudex unus) was appointed in each case from the general album of sworn iudices, but for certain cases several judges were introduced. (See Recuperatores; Judicial Procedure, II.) The iudices centumviri formed the single great judicial body for trying civil cases. (See Centumviri.) Concerning the iudices litibus iudicandis, who were also appointed in civil cases, see Viginti-sex Viri.

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