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时间:2016-01-20  / 编辑:Abby


  Reading Question for Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from Leonard W.

  Levy's Origins of the Fifth Amendment: The Right Against Self

  Incrimination. (©1968 by Clio Enterprises Inc.).

  Community courts and community justice pre-

  vailed in England at the time of the Norman Conquest

  [1066]. The legal system was ritualistic, dependent

  upon oaths at most stages of litigation, and permeated

  5 by both religious and superstitious notions. The pro-

  ceedings were oral, very personal, and highly con-

  frontative. Juries were unknown. One party publicly

  "appealed," or accused, the other before the community

  meeting at which the presence of both was obligatory.

  10 To be absent meant risking fines and outlawry. After

  the preliminary statements of the parties, the court ren-

  dered judgment, not on the merits of the issue nor the

  question of guilt or innocence, but on the manner by

  which it should be resolved. Judgment in other words

  15 preceded trial because it was a decision on what form

  the trial should take. It might be by compurgation, by

  ordeal, or, after the Norman Conquest, by battle.

  Excepting trial by battle, only one party was tried or,

  more accurately, was put to his "proof." Proof being

  20 regarded as an advantage, it was usually awarded to the

  accused party; in effect he had the privilege of proving

  his own case.

  Trial by compurgation consisted of a sworn state-

  ment to the truth of one's claim or denial, supported by

  25 the oaths of a certain number of fellow swearers.

  Presumably they, no more than the claimant, would

  endanger their immortal souls by the sacrilege of false

  swearing. Originally the oath-helpers swore from their

  own knowledge to the truth of the party's claim. Later

  30 they became little more than character witnesses,

  swearing only to their belief that his oath was trust-

  worthy. If he rounded up the requisite number of com-

  purgators and the cumbrous swearing in very exact

  form proceeded without a mistake, he won his case. A

  35 mistake "burst" the oath, proving guilt.

  Ordeals were usually reserved for more serious

  crimes, for persons of bad reputation, for peasants, or

  for those caught with stolen goods. As an invocation of

  immediate divine judgment, ordeals were consecrated

  40 by the Church and shrouded with solemn religious mys-

  tery. The accused underwent a physical trial in which

  he called upon God to witness his innocence by putting

  a miraculous sign upon his body. Cold water, boiling

  water, and hot iron were the principal ordeals, all of

  45 which the clergy administered. In the ordeal of cold

  water, the accused was trussed up and cast into a pool

  to see whether he would sink or float. On the theory

  that water which had been sanctified by a priest would

  receive an innocent person but reject the guilty, inno-

  50 cence was proved by sinking—and hopefully a quick

  retrieval—guilt by floating. In the other ordeals, one

  had to plunge his hand into a cauldron of boiling water

  or carry a red hot piece of iron for a certain distance, in

  the hope that three days later, when the bandages were

  55 removed, the priest would find a "clean" wound, one

  that was healing free of infection. How deeply one

  plunged his arm into the water, how heavy the iron or

  great the distance it was carried, depended mainly on

  the gravity of the charge.

  60 The Normans brought to England still another

  ordeal, trial by battle, paradigm of the adversary

  system, which gave to the legal concept of "defense" or

  "defendant" a physical meaning. Trial by battle was a

  savage yet sacred method of proof which was also

  65 thought to involve divine intercession on behalf of the

  righteous. Rather than let a wrongdoer triumph, God

  would presumably strengthen the arms of the party who

  had sworn truly to the justice of his cause. Right, not

  might, would therefore conquer. Trial by battle was

  70 originally available for the settlement of all disputes

  but eventually was restricted to cases of serious crime.

  Whether one proved his case by compurgation,

  ordeal, or battle, the method was accusatory in char-

  acter. There was always a definite and known accuser,

  75 some private person who brought formal suit and

  openly confronted his antagonist. There was never any

  secrecy in the proceedings, which were the same for

  criminal as for civil litigation. The judges, who had no

  role whatever in the making of the verdict, decided only

  80 which party should be put to proof and what its form

  should be; thereafter the judges merely enforced an

  observance of the rules. The oaths that saturated the

  proceedings called upon God to witness to the truth of

  the respective claims of the parties, or the justice of

  85 their cause, or the reliability of their word. No one gave

  testimonial evidence nor was anyone questioned to test

  his veracity.

  The forms of trial discussed in the passage all assume that truth is best determined by:

  A. carefully questioning witnesses.

  B. carefully assessing physical evidence.

  C. an adversary proceeding, or battle.

  D. relying on the assistance of God.


  【解析】The best answer is D. Support for the answer is in the last paragraph, which compares the three kinds of trial: "The oaths that saturated the proceedings called upon God to witness to the truth of the ... claims ..., or the justice of their cause ..." (lines 82–85). The passage clearly identifies the assistance of God as necessary in each form of trial. Neither of the procedures described in A or B apply to the trials described in the passage, and C is only one type of the several trials described in the passage.


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