Anyone could bring a charge against
another person in ancient Greece. There was no prosecutor. But there
were rules. Here's how it worked:
FIRST: You had tell the person that you
were going to start an action against them to be heard in
"court". You had to bring witnesses with you so your witnesses
could testify that the person was told why you were bringing an action,
and that you had given this person a date, time, and location that they
had to appear in court to defend themselves.
You had to post a written notice near the courthouse that clearly stated
the names of both parties, the charges, and the date, time, and location
of your first trip to court on this action.
TIME IN COURT: The first trip gave both parties a chance to speak before
a judge. If the judge felt there was enough cause, that judge would
assign a trial date. That trial date had to be posted as well.
SELECTION: To be on a jury, you had to be a citizen. You had to be over
30 years of age. You had to swear that you would be fair to both sides.
You did get paid. Juries were selected from volunteers. The number of jurors
could be huge. Some trials had as many as 500 jurors who had volunteered
to judge a case. Only the jury could bring in a decision that someone
was guilty or innocent. It was trial by jury for real. The judge only
kept order, but could not decide a trial outcome.
TRIAL: Both sides presented their case. Then the jurors voted. Majority
Punishments varied. If found guilty, both sides suggested a punishment.
The jury could not choose a third choice. They had to choice one
suggestion or the other.
ANCIENT GREEK TRIAL: The trial of Socrates. Nothing probably would have
happened to Socrates. The court found him guilty. The other side
suggested death as punishment. Socrates, who found the charges against
him ridiculous, suggested his fine be one piece of silver. If Socrates
had suggested a stronger punishment, the jury probably would have voted
for it. But he left them little choice. Socrates had to treat the trial
seriously. He did not, and it cost him his life.