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The Laws of England, Compiled and translated into the Māori language.

§ 31

[i roto i te reo Māori]

§ 31.

The custom of nations who have made no advance from barbarism is different. With them, it is usual for the man who has been injured, or for the relations of a man slain, not only to judge, but to punish the offender, and even, if they think it just that he should die, to kill him. This is very wrong, for the passions of these persons are excited, and men cannot judge rightly when in a state of excitement. Moreover, if the infliction of punishment is left to them, they may be carried away by revengeful passion and make it unnecessarily severe. Again, in such a case, the relations of the offender thus put to death might in their turn seek revenge, and the evil would increase.

Another reason why it is not right that the party suffering wrong should seek to redress his own injury is, lest, on the one hand, while smarting under a sense of the wrong he might be led to punish the wrongdoer too severely, or lest, on the other hand, he might allow himself to be bribed by him, and accept a gift as satisfaction, and so a criminal might escape punishment altogether. A rich man might in this manner escape punishment for his offence.

Therefore the law says, let an officer be appointed whose special duty shall be to carry into execution the sentences delivered in the Court by the Judge, and to inflict the punishments awarded by him to offenders. Let him be a stranger to the matter, unconnected alike with the man who suffered and the man who did the wrong, so that he may not be induced to punish too severely, from anger, or too slightly, from favour or pity. The name of this Officer is the Sheriff. This is an admirable arrangement, for no one can feel anger towards the Sheriff: every one knows that be does not act from his own thought, but merely carries into effect that which the Law commands.