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Lateran IV

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  • CANON 38
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CANON 38

Summary. A judge must employ a notary or two competent men to put in writing the acts of the judicial process, so that if a dispute arise regarding any action of the judge, the truth can be established by referring to these documents. If any difficulty should arise because of a neglect of this, let the judge be punished.

Text. Since against the false assertion of an unjust judge the innocent party sometimes cannot prove the truth of a denial, because by the very nature of things there is no direct proof of one denying a fact, that falsity may not prejudice the truth, and injustice may not prevail over justice, we decree that in an ordinary as well as extraordinary inquiry (judicium) let the judge always employ either a public person (if he can be had) or two competent men who shall faithfully take down in writing all the acts of the inquiry, namely, citations and delays, refusals and exceptions, petitions and replies, interrogations and confessions, the depositions of witnesses and preesentation of documents, interlocutions, appeals, renunciations, decisions, and other acts which take place must be written down in convenient order, the time, places, and persons to be designated. A copy of everything thus written is to be handed to each of the parties, the originals are to remain in possession of the writers; so at if a dispute should arise in regard to any action of the judge, the truth can be established by a reference to these documents. This provision is made to protect the innocent party against judges who areimprudent and dishonest. A judge who neglects to observe this decree, if on account of this neglect some difficulty should arise, let him be duly punished by a superior judge; nor is there any presumption in favor of doing things his way unless it be evident from legitimate documents in the case.




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