Isidore on Corrupting Judges
"Payments. One who judges rightly and
then expects a reward for it, cheats God, for he sells justice,
which ought to be dispenses free of charge, for a price.
"To give just judgment for material gain is
to make bad use of a good thing. What draws you to the truth is not
the defense of justice but the hope of a return. Take away the
monetary expectation ad you quickly pull back from defending
"Payments compromise the truth. So the just
man is said to 'shake every payment from his hands ... and to dwell
on the heights' (Isa. 33:15f.).
"The rich man quickly corrupts the judge with
payments. The poor man, having nothing to offer, is not only
slighted of a hearing but ill-treated even in defiance of a true
"Justice is quickly violated by gold, and a
defendant troubles little about his guilt when he thinks that money
can buy the verdict. For love of money has a stronger hold than
equity of judgment on the mind of the assessor.
There are three types of payment for which men in
their vanity resist justice: friendship, admiration, and material
payment. But material payment corrupts the soul more easily than
goodwill or appreciation.
"There are four things that pervert the
judgment of men: fear, cupidity, hatred, and love. Fear, when afraid
of some power we dare not tell the truth. Cupidity, when some
payment in return corrupts us. Hatred, when we devise means to
oppose someone. Love, when we engage for friend or family. By these
four equity is often violated and innocence harmed. ... (from
"A good judge is incapable of hurting
citizens and should be of service to them all. To some he shows the
severe aspect of justice, to others the kindly. Impartiality in
court depends on there being not a flicker of personal interst to
undermine justice, no ambition to take from someone else something
that he would like himself." (from Chapter 52)
Isidore of Seville, Sentences, Book
3, c. 600. Isidore was Metropolitan See of Seville.