When Was the Earliest Recorded Legal Systems
Hammurabi’s Code was carved onto a massive, finger-shaped black stone stele (pillar) that was looted by invaders and finally rediscovered in 1901.
King Hammurabi was the first king of Babylon, and he was the ruler who was responsible for conquering Mesopotamia and creating the first Babylonian Empire. Hammurabi was known for his fair laws and style of ruling. He wanted his people to obey his laws out of respect, not out of fear. This ruler managed his court by clearly outlining the laws so that all of the people knew them. Hammurabi's laws are called the Code of Hammurabi. The Code of Hammurabi includes a wide range of statutes covering everything from family relationships to contracts to inheritances to crimes and punishments. For example, violent crimes often had penalties that equaled the crime; if you cut someone's hand off, for instance, you would have yours cut off, too. The king enforced his laws by holding everyone accountable equally, without regard for status or income. Every law had a clear punishment attached to it, and penalties were carried out consistently. The judicial system in place in America has roots in the ancient Greek legal system. In ancient Greece, there was no need for law school because lawyers were not a part of the legal system. Instead of having a lawyer representing each side in a case, people argued their cases. Some people with enough means may have hired speechwriters to help them figure out what to say when arguing a case. Ancient Greeks also did not use judges to decide verdicts. Instead, they used large juries, sometimes with as many as 500 jurors. Cases were not drawn out over days or weeks in ancient Greece: The Greeks monitored the proceedings strictly with a timer to make sure that the parties presented their positions and the jury gave its verdict by the end of one day.
Balmer (2008) argues that the US Constitution was influenced by ideas of Blackstone and Baccaria who advocated the ban of capital punishment.
Balmer, T.A. (2008). Some thoughts on proportionality. Oregon Law Review, 87(1), 783-818.
Copan, P. (2008). Is Yahweh a moral monster? The new atheists and Old Testament ethics. Philosophia Christi, 10(1), 7-37.
Fagan, J. (2006). Death and deterrence redux: Science, law and causal reasoning on capital punishment. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 4(1), 255-320.
Grimes, J. (2010). The symbolic capital of capital punishment: A scholarly reflection. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 2(1), 178-199.