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Court System for Jewish Cases

Court practices used in Poland for cases involving Jews. In early Polish history, no unified judicial system for Jewish cases was developed. This was because there were differences in the legal status of Jews, which was influenced by royal, noble and Church legislation, as well as by Jewish law as outlined in the Torah. The oldest privileges specified that Jews were subject exclusively to royal jurisdiction, which was enforced by the voivod in the king's name or, in his stead, by a special official known as a Jewish judge.
Disputes between Jews and Christians fell under his jurisdiction, which meant that Jews were excluded from the municipal court system. Legal precedents were not always respected, however, and Jews were sometimes called before municipal courts. They even appeared before the Crown Tribunal, which was the highest court instance for the nobility.

In 1539, Sigismund I the Old renounced legal jurisdiction over Jews who were living on private lands, transferring it instead to those landowners. Disputes between Jews were generally heard by the Jewish courts.
(H.W./CM)

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