Adriaan Lanni, Litigation: Ancient Athens, in The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History (Stanley N. Katz ed., 2009).
Abstract: Detailed knowledge of the Athenian legal process is limited to the period from which forensic speeches survive, c.420–320 b.c.e. Athenian litigation followed an adversarial rather than inquisitorial procedure, which is to say that the opposing parties rather than a state official controlled the progress of legal proceedings and the presentation of evidence before a relatively passive decision maker (in this case a jury panel typically numbering between two hundred and five hundred). The trial, in which all evidence was presented orally, was the focal point of the legal process. The most distinctive feature of the Athenian legal system was its pervasive amateurism: with few exceptions litigants represented themselves in court before a jury of laymen who operated without the assistance of a judge or legal expert to instruct them as to the laws.