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Title: How was judicial power balanced in Malta in early modern times? A cursory look at the Maltese legal system through a historical perspective
Authors: Mercieca, Simon
Keywords: Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Judicial power -- Malta -- History
Administrative courts -- Malta -- History
Ecclesiastical courts -- Malta -- History
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Louisiana State University
Citation: Mercieca, S. (2011). How was judicial power balanced in Malta in early modern times? A cursory look at the Maltese legal system through a historical perspective. Journal of Civil Law Studies, 4(2), 449-480.
Abstract: Today, Malta has one judicial system which is administered from one central building in Valletta. At the same time, the place where justice is administered is known in Maltese as Qrati tal-Gustizzja or Courts of Justice. However, the fact that all these courts are situated under one roof causes the people to associate it as one institution. I think that this popular perception is more than correct and despite of the use of the word "courts," all these different seats of power fall under the responsibility of one person the Chief Justice. This sort of anomaly made me look into the semantic reason for the use of the plural qrati rather than the singular qorti even though people refer to this building by the latter nomenclature. In my opinion, the use of the plural conveys an older idea when Malta had a multi-court system. In this paper, I shall be looking at the Court of the Inquisition in Malta and how it administered justice during the early modern period. I want to state from the onset that I am not a juristic scholar by profession. My training is that of a historian. Therefore, in this paper, I shall be analyzing the development of this tribunal between 1530 and 1798, that is, during the period when the Island was ruled by the Order of Saint John. Most of the observations that I shall be making on this tribunal are based on pragmatic observations that I have made on analyzing the different trials or processi of criminal justice judged by the Inquisition. I want to state very clearly that the reason for my analysis of these processi is to gather information to build the social framework of Maltese society during early modern times. However, studying these trials and other court records belonging to other Ecclesiastical Courts in Malta, I noted the different courts that existed on the Island and the different functions that these courts had in Malta.
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