The Athenians strongly believed in the rule of law and attempted to implement this ideal in their legal procedures. Every year there were six thousand judges, who swore an oath to vote according to the laws and decrees of the Athenian people and to vote only about the charges in the indictment. There was a distinction between private cases (dikai), which could be brought only by the person who was wronged, and public cases (graphai), which could be brought by any citizen and in some cases by metics and foreigners. All cases were tried in one day. There were certain special public procedures for specific types of cases.
The Athenians of the Classical period strongly believed in the rule of law. In his Funeral Oration delivered in 322
For men to be happy they must be ruled by the voice of law, not the threats of a man; free men must not be frightened by accusation, only by proof of guilt; and the safety of our citizens must not depend on men who flatter their master and slander our citizens but on our confidence in the law (trans. Cooper).