(Take From Judgment Writing teaching material JLSRI ,By Misker Getahun & Tafese Yirga)
For the prime reason that there is no adequate source material to deal with the entire history and tradition of judgment and judgment writing in Ethiopia only, a brief account of discussion on the topic will be made in the forthcoming section. As such, the discussion will be based on the period from the reign of Emperor Zar'a Ya'eqob,(1434-1468) which marked the end of monarchical rule and the beginning of a new era.
In the legal history of Ethiopia the first codified law of the country is coined with the name Zar'a Ya'eqob, who directed the compilation of the then existing legal norms by and through the Ethiopian Orthodox Church scholars. This law was known as "Fewuse Menfesawi", which has the literal meaning of "spiritual remedies". The contextual translation of same is "cannonical penances." Emperor Zar'a Ya'eqob was not only the reason for the compilation of the then existing legal norms of the country in to a code,but he is also credited for making an order which resulted in the bringing of the copy of the so called "Fetha Negest" (the law of the kings) from Egypt and had it translated in to Ge'ez, which was the then working language of the country.
Another incident which has a historical as well as legal significance in the country came at the year 1931, which unfolded the promulgation of the first written constitution of Ethiopia by virtue of the then reigning Emperor of the country, Haile Sellasie I, whichestablished a two -chamber parliament (members of which were appointed by himself).
In between these great historical incidents i.e., the promulgation of the first ever written constitution of 1931 and the compilation of the ‘fewuse menfesawi’ oral as well as some foreign travelers’ travel memories (diaries) give evidence to the fact that the people of Ethiopia, then administered by local chiefs and tribe leaders, having their own small area to administer, were subjected to a particular norms and custom that were prescribed by the chief of the society.