Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/13

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Paragraph 1- If one party says so-and-so will judge for me and his counterparty says so-and-so will judge for me, these two judges that each one chose will then select a third judge. The third judge does not require the consent of the parties. The three of them will judge the parties thereby causing the truth to come out in the ruling. Even if one of the parties chose a great scholar with semicha, he cannot force his adversary to be judged in front of him, and the adversary can also choose a judge because where each party chooses one judge the parties will listen to them. The chosen judges will also advocate for the merit of the party that chose them to the extent that they can under the law and the third judge will hear the claims and rule honestly. If the two judges cannot agree on the third judge, the leaders of the city will provide the judge. If there are no leaders in the city, the plaintiff will go in front of three and force the defendant to be judged in front of them. Similarly, if the defendant chooses a judge that is unqualified to sit next to a qualified judge, we force him to be judged in front of three as was explained in Siman 3 or to choose a qualified judge. If the two judges agree, there are those that say that they do not need to select a third judge. There are those that say that if the defendant says he will choose two and the plaintiff can also choose two and they will select a fifth, the defendant is permitted to so because the more judges they have the more likely is it that the truth will prevail.

Paragraph 2- They would write so-and-so chose so-and-so and so-and-so chose so-and-so. A party may retract so long as it has not been written down. Once is had been written they can no longer retract. Therefore, it can only be written with the knowledge of both parties. Both parties pay the scribe’s wages. The same applies if they made a kinyan. Some say that once they have made their claims in front of the judges they can no longer retract, even if it has not been documented. It seems to me that in a place where they do not have the practice to write so-and-so chose so-and-so etc., once the parties have made their claims in front of them all would agree that the parties can no longer retract. Once they are no longer able to retract, they are also unable to add judges.

Paragraph 3- We cannot force a person to provide his claims in writing. A judge cannot accept a written claim. Rather, he must hear the parties' claims directly and tell the scribe to write them. They should not be written without the knowledge of the parties. Both parties will pay the scribe’s wages. If, however, both parties want to set forth their claims in writing, they have permission to do so. They cannot retract anything that they write.

Paragraph 4- If one party wants to disqualify the judge his adversary selected through a claim that the judge is a thief or has a familial disqualification, we do not pay attention to his claim, even if he has a witness supporting it.

Paragraph 5- If the defendant chooses a judge who knows testimony for the plaintiff, we force him to choose another judge.

Paragraph 6- If the judges need to ask the beis din hagadol about an issue, they write and send their question. The beis din hagadol informs them of their view and the local judges will judge the case. We cannot allow the beis din hagadol itself to provide the ruling because we need the parties to appear in front of the judges. The selected judges can choose to ask whomever they desire and they do not need the parties to know.

Paragraph 7- If the parties chose ten men to judge, whether for strict law or pshara, and agreed that they would follow the majority and one of the judges removed himself from the case and did not state his opinion or he says he does not know, the ruling is invalid, even if the remaining nine all agree. See later 18:1.