Law and Justice in the Courts of Classical Athens


Law and Justice in the Courts of Classical Athens

In The Law Courts of Classical Athens, Adriaan Lanni draws on contemporary legal thinking to present a new model of the legal system of classical Athens. She analyzes the Athenians' preference in most cases for ad hoc, discretionary decision-making, as opposed to what moderns would call the rule of law. Lanni argues that the Athenians consciously employed different approaches to legal decision-making in different types of courts. The varied approaches to legal process stems from a deep tension in Athenian practice and thinking, between the demand for flexibility of legal interpretation consistent with the exercise of democratic power by ordinary Athenian jurors; and the demand for consistency and predictability in legal interpretation expected by litigants and necessary to permit citizens to conform their conduct to the law. Lanni presents classical Athens as a case study of a successful legal system that, by modern standards, had an extraordinarily individualized and discretionary approach to justice.

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