POSTULATIO (Lat.). In Roman Law. The name of the first act in a criminal pro ceeding.
A person who wished to accuse another of a crime appeared before the prmtor and requested hls au thority for that purpose, designating the person intended. This act was called postulatio. The postulant made oath (calumnium jurabat) that he was not influenced by a spirit of calumny, but acted In good faith with a view to the public interest. The prntor received this declaration, at first made verbally, but afterwards in writing, and called a libel. The postulatio was posted up In the forum, to give public notice of the names of the accuser and the accused. A second accuser sometimes ap peared and went through the same formalities. Other persons were allowed to appear and join the postulant or principal accuser. These were said postu/are subscriptionern, and were denomi nated subscriptores. Cic. in Cncil. Divin.' 15. But commonly such persons acted concurrently with the postulant, and inscribed their names at the time he first appeared. Only one accuser, however, was allowed to act ; and if the first inscribed did not desist in favor of the second, the right was determined, after discussion, by judges appointed for the purpose. Cie. in Verr. 1. 6. The preliminary proceeding was called divinatio, and is well explain ed in the oration of Cicero entitled Divinatio. See Aulus Gelius, Att. Noct. lib. Ii. cap. 4.
The accuser having been determined in this man ner, he appeared before the praetor, and formally charged the accused by name, specifying the crime. This was called nominis et criminis delatio. The magistrate reduced it to writing, which was called inscriptio, and the accuser and his adjuncts, if any, signed it, subscribebant. This proceeding cor responds to the indictment of the common law. If the accused appeared, the accuser formally charged him with the crime. If the accused con fessed it, or stood mute, he was adjudged to pay the penalty. If he denied it, the inscriptio con tained his answer, and he was then in reatu (in dicted, as we should say), and was called reus, and a day was fixed, ordinarily after an interval of at least ten days, according to the nature of the case, for the appearance of the parties. In the case of Verres, Cicero obtained one hundred and ten days to prepare his proofs ; although he accomplished it in fifty days, and renounced, as he might do, the advantage of the remainder of the time allowed him.
At the day appointed for the trial, the accuser and his adjuncts or colleagues, the accused, and the judges, were summoned by the herald of the prmtor. If the accuser did pot appear, the case was erased from the roll. If the accused made default, he was condemned. If both parties ap peared, a jury was drawn by the prmtor or judecc quwstionis. The jury was called jurati •homines and the drawing of them sortitio, and they were taken from a general list made out for the year. Either party had a right to object to a certain ex tent to the persons drawn; and then there was a second drawing called subsortitio, to complete the number.
In some tribunals qucestiones (the jury) were editi (produced) in equal number by the accuser and the accused, and sometimes by the accuser alone, and were objected to or challenged in differ ent ways, according to the nature of the case. The number of the jury also varied according to the tribunal (qucestio): they were sworn before the trial began. Hence they were called jurati.
The accusers, and often the subseriptores, were heard, and afterwards the accused, either by him self or by his advocates, of whom he commonly had several.
After the pleadings were concluded, the prmtor or the judecc qucestionis distributed tablets to the jury, upon which each wrote, secretly,' either the letter A. (absolve), or the letter C. (condemno), or N. L. (non liquet). These tablets were deposited in an urn. The president assorted and counted the tablets. If the majority were for acquitting the accused, the magistrate declared it by the words fecisse non videtur, and by the words fceisse videtur if the majority were for a conviction. If the tablets marked N. L. were so many as to prevent an ab solute majority for a conviction or acquittal, the cause was put off for more ample information, anupitatio, which the prmtor declared by the word emplius.
The forms observed in the comitia centuriata and eomitia tribute were nearly the same, except the composition of the tribunal and the mode of declar ing the vote.