The sentence or final order of a court in a civil or criminal proceeding, enforceable by the appropriate modes of execution appointed by law. In criminal cases, according to Talmudic law, the judgment was pronounced by the chief of the court in the presence of the accused (Sanh. 79b; Maimonides, "Yad," Sanh. xiv. 7; ib., Roẓeaḥ, iv. 7). If the judgment was for acquittal it could not be reversed; but if it was for conviction it could be reversed, and another trial instituted either at the plea of the convict, after presenting a sufficient reason, or at the instance of new witnesses appearing for the defendant (see Acquittal; Execution).In Civil Cases.
In civil cases, also, judgment was pronounced by the presiding judge. The formula was very simple: "A, thou art guilty"; "B, thou art innocent." The judgment could be pronounced even if the parties concerned were not present (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ, 18, 6; comp. ib. 13, 6). If one of the litigants wished to have a written copy of the judgment, the court might furnish him with one before the litigants left the court-room, but not after, because it was apprehended that they might settle the case between themselves outside. The formula for a written judgment was as follows: "A and B came before the court, and in its opinion A is guilty and B is innocent." Neither in the written nor in the spoken sentence should the names of the judges be included (Sanh. 30a; "Yad," Sanh. xxii. 8; Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ 19, 2; comp. ib. 39, 9-10).
The reasons for the decision were included in the judgment only when the judges noticed a dissatisfaction on the part of the litigants, or when one of the litigants asked for the reasons. The prevailing custom, however, was to explain the reasons of a judgment only when one of the litigants was compelled to appear before a certain court, though he wished to be judged by another. In such a case he had to pay the money immediately on the receipt ofthe judgment note; and if the decision was reversed by another court the money was refunded to him. A high and famous court need not assign any reason for its decisions (Sanh. 31b; Tosef., Sanh. s.v. "We'im"; B. M. 69b; Tosef., B. M. s.v."Ki"; Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ, 14, 4, Isserles' gloss).
The judges were not permitted to divulge to the public their individual opinions of any case after it had been decided. On one occasion a disciple was expelled from the court-room because he related the opinions of the judges in a case twenty-two years after its trial (Sanh. 31a; "Yad," Sanh. xxii. 7).Reversal of Judgment.
A judgment in civil cases could be reversed at the instance of either of the parties. Even if the court ordered them to produce all new testimony within thirty days, and they brought new testimony after that period, the judgment might be reversed and a new trial instituted. If at the question of the court one of the litigants admitted that he could bring no other testimony, and then produced new testimony, which, however, could have been obtained before, the judgment could not be reversed. But if he brought witnesses who were in a distant land at the time of the trial, or testimony of which he might have had no previous knowledge, a new trial was usually granted (Sanh. 31a; "Yad," Sanh. vi. 6-8; Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ, 20, 1).
For reversal of judgment in cases of appeal to higher courts see Appeals. See also Excommunication; Execution.
- Bloch, Die Civilprocess-Ordnung, pp. 84-87, Budapest, 1882;
- Mendelsohn, Criminal Jurisprudence, pp. 148-152, Baltimore, 1891.