Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 17.djvu/250

This page needs to be proofread.


tain a crucifix prominently displayed and a copy of actions for affronts are barred in a year, trials for the Gospels; the bishop is to issue a public decree special crimes a^^inst the sixth and seventh corn- stating the day and the hour, when the court can mandments in nve years; trials for simony or ordinarily be approached. No one should be ad- homicide in ten years; all other criminal actions mitted to the trial unless the judges believe his in three years; suits, however, reserved to the presence to be neceasaxy. The record of the pro- Holy Office are governed by the special regulations ceedings is as far as possible to be drawn up in of that body. Even if a criminal action has been Latin, but the questions and answers of witnesses barred by lapse of time, a suit may at times be should be recorded in the vernacular. The actuary's brought to recover damages^ and a legitimate signature and the seal of the court should appear superior may be obliged to refrain from promoting on each leaf; when the signatures of the litigants or a cleric if a doubt remains as to his fitness, and witnesses are required, if they cannot or will not even to prohibit him from exercising his ministry sign, the fact shoidd be recorded in the record and if scandal would result. In contentious suits the the judge and actuary should declare that the state- time for prescription begins to run from the moment ments were read to the party or witness and that the action could have been begun; in criminal cases he could not or would not sign. In cases of ap- it runs from the date of the offense, unless the peal, indexed copies of the record, authenticated crime is continuous in its nature or is one of a hy the actuary or chancellor, are forwarded to the series, in which cases it begins after the last act. higher court; in case of necessity the original record For procedure followed in the court cf. C. E., could be sent. If they are sent to a place where IV-452. The witnesses should ordinarily testify the vernacular language is unknown the records imder oath, but those who have not reached shoidd be translated into Latin; if they have not puberty, the feeble-minded, those declared or con- been properly prepared, they may be rejected by denmed as excommunicated, perjurers, or infamous, the higher court. persons of depraved morals, and known bitter

Parties. — ^The plaintiff and defendant may be enemies of one of the litigants are usually not compeUed to appear personally; minors appear sworn, their testimony being accepted merely as through their parents or guardians, but in suits corroborative. In private suits, however, the parties involving spiritual interests they can act without may aUow a witness to testify without being sworn; leave of the parents or guardians, if they have at- the judge may oblige the witness by oath to ob- tained the use of reason, and if they are fourteen serve secrecy till the proceedings are made public, years of age can appear personally, otherwise they or even never to make them known where there is are to be represented by a guardian chosen by the danger of scandal or discord. Though the wit- ordinary or a procurator named by them with the nesses should ordinarilv testify in court, cardinals, ordinary's permission. Religious can engase in law- bishops, and distinguished persons who by civil law suits without their superior's consent omy (a) in are exempt from appearing before a judge as wit- vindication of the rights they acquired agamst their nesses, can select another place for giving their order by profession; (b) when it is necessaiy in evidence, but they should notify the judge. Nuns order to aefend their rights while they are living professed with solemn vows and persons who are ill with permission outside of the houses of their may testify at home. A witness who lives in a re- order; (c) when they wish to denounce their mote district and cannot reach the judge without supenor. A bishop can appear on behalf of the grave inconvenience may testify before a com- cathedral church or episcopal menaa: but to do so mission; and those living in another diocese imder lawfully, he must listen to the catnedral chapter similar circumstances may give their evidence be- or coimcil of administration or have their consent fore a local tribunal. The litigants may not be or advice, when such a sum of money as would present at the examination of the witnesses with- necessitate their consent or advice for valid aliena- out the judge's permission, nor may the witnesses tion is involved. Beneficiaries may prosecute or be examined in one another's presence. However, defend suits on behalf of their benefice, but to when all the testimony has been taken, the judge act licitly they should have the written consent may confront two witnesses or a witness and a of the ordinary or, if there is not time to obtain litigant if the witnesses differ seriously and sub- it, of the vicar forane. Prelates and superiors of stantially from one another or from a litigant, and chapters, sodalities, and colleges require the con- if, at the same time, this is the easiest way of sent of these bodies; and the local ordinary may getting at the truth and can be done without dan- appear personally or by proxy in the name of a ger of scandal or discord.

moral body whose administrator neglects to take The witness is questioned only by the judge; if

action. Excommunicates vitandi or others after the litigants, the promoter of justice, or the de-

declaratory or condemnatory sentence cannot ap- fender of the bond are present at the examination

pear personally except to contest the justice or and wish to get his answer on any point, they must

legitimacy of their excommunication; they may submit their questions to the judge to be asked

appear by a procurator to avert any other spiritual by him. The questions asked of the witness should

danger; otherwise they have no standing in court, be short, candid, uncomplicated, pertinent, and

Other excommunicates can generally appear in should not suggest the answer; if any facts have

court. slipped from ms memory the judge may assist him

In criminal cases the defendant must alwa3r8 in recalling the circumstances, if this can be fairly

have an advocate; and in contentious cases involv- done. The witness may not read his testimony,,

ing the public welfare or the interests of minors, except when there b question of complicated

the judge must appoint one to assist a litigant who figures; his evidence is to be taken down verbatim

has none, and may even provide a second advocate by the actuary, unless the judge deems anything

if the circumstances demand it. too trivial to be recorded ; before leaving the court-

The right of action in contentious suits, both room the transcript of the testimony is to be read

real and personal, may be lost by prescription; but to the witness so that he may add, suppress^ cor-

the question of personal status may always be rect, or vary what is necessary; the transcript is

raised. Criminal actions are terminated by the then signed by the witness, the judge, and the

death of the defendant, by condonation by a law- notary. When the parties or the procurators have

ful superior, and by delay in starting the suit; not been present at the examination, the judge