(Based on how-many-witnesses-have-to-concur)

I have never heard of a reference to an archive or a secretariat or something to process the paperwork. THere also was no connection between different courts and no "files/cases".

The Jewish Law has no Police (for filing and investigation) and no Prosecution Office - everybody goes straight to the court and incriminates his fellow Jew.

If a case falls because of inconsistencies of the witnesses or rejecting a witness or other "technicality", the witnesses can re-group, or learn the questions and the tricks.

As there's no tracking of the cases and no "locality" (obligation to stick to a certain court based on one's living address) witnesses can wander from one court to another in the same city or in different cities.

How many times can the witnesses, or different groups of witnesses come to the court for the same crime, or to different courts?

  • 1
    We have police, just only if we have our own state governed by Halacha - שופטים ושוטרים תתן לך בכל שעריך
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:58
  • According to Sanhedrin 4:3 they actually did have court reporters.
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:10
  • @DonielF In Tanakh שוטרים seem more like paralegals than modern police officers. They are always listed with the Zekenim and Shoftim, and they are made up of wise people (Dev 1:15). נוגשים is what the Torah calls enforcers.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:15
  • @DonielF Which only recorded for the current trial to remind the judges what they thought previously, as they are forbidden to switch from pros to cons
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:36
  • @AlBerko You’re assuming that they just throw away these paper records after each case. What are you basing that off of?
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


I may be misunderstanding your definition of double jeopardy: it seems to mean the inability to try a person a second time of the same charges, not to use witnesses more than once.

If so, HaRav Hershel Schachter, in his Sanhedrin shiurim (#103, for example), points to a Minchat Chinuch (82:4) and a Mishnah in Sanhedrin 32a (4:1) - מחזירים בין לזכות בין לחובה by Mammonot but only לזכות by Nefashot. Double jeopardy only applies to Jews for Dinei Nefashot, not Mammonot. The US Constitution applies it mistakenly to Dinei Mammonot, as well, he said.

  • I wonder why he thinks the US Constitution was trying to follow Halakha on this matter
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 14:09
  • It was said in jest, if I recall correctly
    – MDjava
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:59

1) The Torah commands us to appoint Shoftim (Judges) and Shotrim (officers), who were agents of the court, more similar to the role of sherrif.

If the agent of the court was made aware of some public offense (i.e. a rebellious city or golden calf worship), they would form a posse to deal with it (Remember how Moshe formed a posse of Levites to kill calf worshippers?).

A lot of law and order was privatized. You could hire private watchmen or perform citizens arrests. We also learn from the section about the accidental killer (and the cities of refuge) that there is a concept of "blood redeemer" who would kill them that killed his kin.


2) Who says the court proceedings were not recorded?

3) The witnesses accomplish two functions: Make the incident halachically significant AND provide evidence.

If a woman witnesses a crime, she cannot make the event halachically significant, but the court is still allowed to believe her and take action accordingly. They still have a "secular" authority to execute people outside of the strict witness-warning system.

If two witnesses keep changing their story, the court can choose not to believe them. In the section about the rebellious city (DT 13:14) the Torah says that the court should investigate the matter so we know that investigating matters is a role of the court and its agents.

4) You cannot be subject to Double Jeopardy but you can appeal. https://www.ou.org/torah/mitzvot/taryag/mitzvah82/

  • This, uh, this doesn’t answer the question. Does Judaism have a double jeopardy clause?
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:09
  • try now. I update the answer. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:23
  • 3
    Double Jeopardy was the question and the only question. #4 should be the entire answer, once you’ve summarized the link in the post itself.
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:24
  • Some of the premises of your question needed addressing. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 16:13
  • 1. You can delete everything and put the last link in comments if you're not going to add anything to it. 2. מחזירים לזכות / לחובה is only valid as long as the trial lasts and the verdict was not carried out. But if a testimony fell it is not מחזירים.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:56

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