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Double Jeopardy
"Nor is it one thing at Rome and another at Athens, one now and another in the future, but among all nations it is the same."
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Double Jeopardy

Justice Black Dissent
November 19, 1957
Seal Of The Supreme Court

Fear and abhorrence of governmental power to try people twice for the same conduct is one of the oldest ideas found in western civilization. Its roots run deep into Greek and Roman times. Even in the Dark Ages, when so many other principles of justice were lost, the idea that one trial and one punishment were enough remained alive through the canon law and the teachings of the early Christian writers. By the thirteenth century, it seems to have been firmly established in England, where it came to be considered as a "universal maxim of the common law."

It is not surprising, therefore, that the principle was brought to this country by the earliest settlers as part of their heritage of freedom, and that it has been recognized here as fundamental again and again. Today it is found, in varying forms, not only in the federal Constitution, but in the jurisprudence or constitutions of every state, as well as most foreign nations. It has, in fact, been described as a part of all advanced systems of law, and as one of those universal principles of reason, justice, and conscience, of which Cicero said: "Nor is it one thing at Rome and another at Athens, one now and another in the future, but among all nations it is the same."

Text excerpt:

Cicero Speech

There is a true law, right reason, agreeable to nature, known to all men, constant and eternal, which calls to duty by its precepts, deters from evil by its prohibition ... Nor is there one law at Rome and another at Athens, one thing now and another afterward; but the same law, unchanging and eternal, binds all races of man and all times; and there is one common, as it were, master and ruler — God, the author, promulgator and mover of this law. Whoever does not obey it departs from [his true] self, condemns the nature of man and inflicts upon himself the greatest penalties.