Legal System

The Mayan Civilization

The laws governing the various Maya states were issued by the halach uinic and his council, or in the absence of a halach uinic, by the council alone. The batabob were responsible for carrying out the laws and serving as judges and administrators to their smaller towns. Trials were generally conducted swiftly in public meeting houses called popilna and judicial proceedings were conducted orally, no written records were maintained.

Witnesses were required to testify under oath and evidence exists to suggest that parties may have been represented by individuals who functioned as attorneys. The batabob would review the evidence, evaluate the merits of the case, determine if the offense was accidental or deliberate and prescribe the appropriate punishment. While the batabob’s decision was final and no appeal was available, the victim or their family could pardon the accused, thereby reducing the defendant’s punishment.

The Maya didn’t have prisons and punishment was immediately carried out by the tupiles. If…

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