By Avi Rubin (auth.)
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Extra info for Ottoman Nizamiye Courts: Law and Modernity
While “among us, that is, easterners, there was much tendency towards mercy and compassion,” there was nothing of the sort among the Europeans. In fact, the author portrayed the easterners as a reverse mirror image of the Europeans, from a moral point of view. Ali Şehbaz Efendi depicted several social situations (demonstrated in Le Misérables) intended to illustrate this difference. For one, upperclass Europeans did not care for their poor because they were considered inferior. The social solidarity among the easterners, on the other hand, cut across social divisions.
But while the center seems to have accepted the influence of local notables in the councils as a given, regardless of its efforts to assimilate local power bases into the state apparatus, such practice clearly could not be tolerated in the judicial sphere because it seriously undermined the principles of the courts’ 44 Ot tom a n NI Z A MI Y E Cou rts independence and separation of powers. At the same time, there was not much the ministry could do, given the existing method of selecting court members.
The courts of first instance, which were the backbone of the system, were of three types, in line with the status of the administrative unit in question: the county (kaza), the provincial district (liva), and the provincial centers (vilâyet). In each of these units there was a court of first instance that saw cases in accordance with its hierarchical status. Hence, the county courts of first instance addressed civil cases of lower sums and criminal offenses of lower severity, whereas the courts of first instance at the provincial centers addressed cases of the highest sums and highest criminal severity.
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