Jurists


Roles


The common term for a lawyer is aigne, who would plead his case to a judge, or brithem.

A jurist who had risen to the highest status could hold the position of Brithem Tuath, who served as the sole legal adviser to the king (Ri). Because of the importance of this role, the Brithem Tuathe was supposed to be at the king's side at all times.

The other brithem in a tuath were responsible for making judgments about disputes among residents of that tuath.

Both aigne and brithem were most likely paid with fees for their services.
The irish word féchem also can refer to either a plaintiff, defendant, or law agent[1] . This dual meaning may derive from Roman or French legal terminology. The Latin phrase vinculum juris referrs to both legal parties in dispute[2] . And in the French Civil Code has a similar phrase which denotes the "legal rights accruing to the citizen under contract or tort"[3] . The word derives from fíach - meaning 'debt' and 'fine, penalty'[4] .



Training


Jurists most likely received their training from one of several Law Schools throughout Ireland. Since the jurists were most likely a profession that stayed within families. Scholars speculate that as clans of jurists grew larger through generations, their knowledge and expertise passed down could gain enough reputation that the family could found a Law School[5] .

Eventually "the law-schools had consolidated their power, and representation in court was the monopoly of their members". Later, from this development arose three (eventually four) grades of aigne [6] .


===Ranks[7]




1.) glasaigne - 'fresh' or 'raw', likely just out of law-school, inexperienced. Must have "enough legal knowledge to enable him to perform all the functions of an agent...short of representing his client in court" . Entitled to one-third of an amount successfully enforced by him and one-sixth of an amount resisted by him.


2.) airberta - 'of court-practice,' the intermediate grade. Jurists of this skill "may plead in court in all cases involving ordinary law" but only up until the final pleadings which require the highest grade jurist available. Entitled to the same fees as a glasaigne.


3.) frisnidle breth `a - 'on whom the judgment awaits,' the highest grade. Necessary for the final statements in a case. "He must be an expert in all branches of the law".




Practice and Procedure

The defendant, plaintiff, and brithem would agree on a time for the court session and outline a strategy to try the case[8] .
For each witness, the value of the testimony was linked to the witnesses's honor price[9] . Thus if a king or noble gives an account that conflicts with a farmer, the former's testimony is believed as true.
It is likely that judges of different backgrounds would collectively decide cases[10] . This would help prevent corruption and prevent bias in decisions. The jurists were also held to standards within their profession. For a decision that is found wrong, the original judge could be fined 1 cumal.[11]



===** Athgabál [12]



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  1. Notice of property impoundment
  2. Wait 1, 2, 3, or 5 days
  3. Defendant can pay fines to fulfill his or her obligation or make public pledge to do so
  4. If defendant does not resolve the issue or repay the person, his cattle and animals can be taken from his property up to the value of the amount owed in the presence of an aigne. The animals would be taken to a holding place separate from other herds.
  5. Second delay period lasting a few days
  6. At this point, the party seeking retribution can begin to keep the animals, 1 up to 5 sets of stock, each following day 3 sets is allowed.

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In Irish Literature:


Jurists are noticeably absent from much of the fairytales and myths of early Ireland that have been recovered. Possible explanations for this could include the fact that most of the stories and legends were passed down by poets before they were written down by monks. The poets would have tailored their stories for an audience - which would include people that paid for the poet's services. This could explain why most stories include characters from more noble classes. Also smiths are mentioned relatively frequently in the stories whenever their services are referenced. This could have something to do with the superstition surrounding smiths, which included the belief that irreverence towards one could have dire consequences, even though there honor price was not as high.




Furthermore, poets had a role of monitoring those with too much unilateral power who, if made an unfair or unpopular decision, could be shamed with satire. However, the community of jurists probably would not have had such problems since they typically made judgments as groups and were subject to a type of appeal process where their decisions could be declared wrong at the expense of 1 cumal. Thus, there was no reason for poets to create stories with jurist characters since there was likely no reason to satirize them and they were not of status to subsidize a poet's work.




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  1. ^ Fergus, Kelly, "Fechem, Fethem, Aigne," Celtica, Vol. XI, p. 18.
  2. ^ Fergus, Kelly, "Fechem, Fethem, Aigne," Celtica, Vol. XI, p. 18.
  3. ^ Fergus, Kelly, "Fechem, Fethem, Aigne," Celtica, Vol. XI, p. 18.
  4. ^ Fergus, Kelly, "Fechem, Fethem, Aigne," Celtica, Vol. XI, p. 18.
  5. ^ Handy, Amber, "Nemed Class," lecture, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, September 21, 2010.
  6. ^ Fergus, Kelly, "Fechem, Fethem, Aigne," Celtica, Vol. XI, p. 18.
  7. ^

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    Fergus, Kelly, "Fechem, Fethem, Aigne," Celtica, Vol. XI, p. 26-27.
  8. ^ Handy, Amber, "Nemed Class," lecture, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, September 21, 2010.
  9. ^ Handy, Amber, "Nemed Class," lecture, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, September 21, 2010.
  10. ^ Handy, Amber, "Nemed Class," lecture, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, September 21, 2010.
  11. ^ Handy, Amber, "Nemed Class," lecture, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, September 21, 2010.
  12. ^ **===
    Handy, Amber, "Nemed Class," lecture, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, September 21, 2010.