Roman Emperors Give Bishops Limited Rights to Appeal for Convicted Criminals

Roman Emperors Give Bishops Limited Rights to Appeal for Convicted Criminals


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Emperors Arcadius and Honorius decree that bishops have limited rights to appeal on behalf of convicted criminals. Henceforth, bishops will only be allowed to file appeals in humanitarian cases when there is enough evidence to justify it and when the regular time for appeals has not run out.

This new decree states:

"No cleric, monk, or synodite is allowed to hold anyone who has been sentenced to punishment and condemned for the enormity of their crimes. We do not deny their right to file an appeal in a criminal case, in consideration of humanity, if the legally prescribed time limits permit.

We will provide for more careful investigations in cases where error or favoritism has occurred and justice has been suppressed to the prejudice of the safety of a person. ...

After the time for appeals has passed, no one will be allowed to hold or defend an accused person when he is going to the place of punishment under escort. Judges will be fined thirty pounds of gold and the primates of his office staff by a capital sentence if such usurpation is not immediately punished. ...

The bishops will be discredited and held responsible if they learn that any of those acts which We prohibit by this law have been committed by monks in over which they have authority and if they do not punish such violations. . . ." [CT 9.40.16]

It appears that Christian bishops have been filing a lot of appeals in criminals cases, trying to get convicted criminals off from their punishments. Otherwise, why would the emperors need to issue a special law just to put limits on them?

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