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A collection or compilation that embodies the chief matter of numerous books, articles, court decisions, and so on, disposed under proper heads or titles, and usually by an alphabetical arrangement, for facility in reference.

An index to reported cases, providing brief statements of court holdings or facts of cases, which is arranged by subject and subdivided by jurisdiction and courts.

As a legal term, digest is to be distinguished from abridgment. The latter is a summary of the contents of a single work, in which, as a rule, the original order or sequence of parts is preserved, and in which the principal labor of the compiler is in the matter of consolidation. A digest is wider in its scope, is made up of quotations or paraphrased passages, and has its own system of classification and arrangement. An index merely points out the places where particular matters may be found, without purporting to give such matters in extenso. A treatise or commentary is not a compilation, but an original composition, though it may include quotations and excerpts.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1 a compilation of rules of law, the most famous being the Digest of Justinian, the heart of the CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS, sometimes also known as the Pandects.
2 a collection of case summaries that have the holding in the case noted briefly. Digests completely lack any attempt at synthesis but are usually very usefully cross-referenced and indexed.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DIGEST, civil law. The name sometimes given to the Pandects of Justinian; it is so called because this compilation is reduced to order, quasi digestiae.
     2. It is an abridgment of the decisions of the praetors and the works of the learned, and ancient writers on the law. It was made by order of the emperor Justinian, who, in 530, published an ordinance entitled De Conceptione Digestorum, which was addressed to Tribonian, and by which he was required to select some of the most distinguished lawyers to assist him in composing a collection of the best decisions of the ancient lawyers, and compile them is fifty books, without confusion or contradiction. The work was immediately commenced, and completed on the 16th of December, 533.
     3. The Digest is divided in two different ways; the first, into fifty books, each book into several titles, and each title into several laws at the head of each of them is the name of the lawyer from. whose work it was taken.
     4.-1. The first book contains twenty-two titles; the subject of the first is De justicia et jure; of the division of person and things; of magistrates, &c.
     5.-2. The second, divided into fifteen titles, treats of the power of magistrates and their jurisdiction; the manner of commencing suits; of agreements and compromises.
     6.-3. The third, composed of six titles, treats of those who can and those who cannot sue; of advocates and attorneys and syndics; and of calumny.
     7.-4. The fourth, divided into nine titles, treats of causes of restitution of submissions and arbitrations; of minors, carriers by water, innkeepers and those who have the care of the property of others.
     8.-5. In the fifth there are six titles, which. treat of jurisdiction and inofficious testaments.
     9.-6. The subject, of the sixth, in which there are three titles, is actions.
    10.-7. The seventh, in nine titles, embraces whatever concerns usufructs, personal servitudes, habitations, the uses of real estate, and its appurtenances, and of the sureties required of the usufructuary.
    11.-8. The eighth book, in six titles, regulates urban and rural servitudes.
    12.-9. The ninth book, in four titles, explains certain personal actions.
    13.-10. The tenth, in four titles, treats of mixed actions.
    14.-11. The object of the eleventh book, containing eight titles, is to regulate interrogatories, the cases of which the judge was to take cognizance, fugitive slaves, of gamblers, of surveyors who made false reports, and of funerals and funeral expenses.
    15.-12. The twelfth book, in seven titles, regulates personal actions in which the plaintiff claims the title of a thing.
    16.-13. The thirteenth, treats of certain particular actions, in seven titles.
    17.-14. This, like the last, regulates certain actions: it has six titles.
    18.-15. The fifteenth, in four titles, treats of actions for which a father or master is liable, in consequence of the acts of his children or slaves, and those to which he is entitled; of the peculium of children and slaves, and of the actions on this right.
    19.-16. The sixteenth, in three titles, contains the law. relating to the senatus consultum velleianum, of compensation or set off, and of the action of deposit.
    20.-17. The seventeenth, in two titles, expounds the law of mandates and partnership.
    21.-18. The eighteenth book, in seven titles, explains the contract of sale.
    22.-19. The nineteenth, in five titles, treats of the actions which arise on a contract of sale.
    23.-20. The law relating to pawns, hypothecation, the preference among creditors, and subrogation, occupy the twentieth book, which contains six titles.
    24.-21. The twenty-first book, explains under three titles, the edict of the ediles relating to the sale of slaves and animals; then what relates to evictions and warranties.
    25.-22. The twenty-second treats of interest, profits and accessories of things, proofs, presumptions, and of ignorance of law and fact. It is divided into six titles.
    26.-23. The twenty-third, in five titles, contains the law of marriage, and its accompanying agreements.
    27.-24. The twenty-fourth, in three titles, regulates donations between husband and wife, divorces, and their consequence.
    28.-25. The twenty-fifth is a continuation of the subject of the preceding. It contains seven titles.
    29.-26 and 27. These two books, each in two titles, contain the law relating to tutorship and curatorship.
    30.-28. The twenty-eighth, in eight titles, contain's the law on last wills and testaments.
    31.-29. The twenty-ninth, in seven titles, is the continuation of the twenty-eighth book.
    32.-30, 31, and 32. These three books, each divided into two titles, contain the law of trusts and specific legacies.
    33.-33, 34, and 35. The first of these, divided into ten titles; the second, into nine titles; and the last into three titles, treat of various kinds of legacies.
    34.-36. The thirty-sixth, containing four titles, explains the senatus consultum trebellianum, and the time when trusts become due.
    35.-37. This book, containing fifteen titles, has two objects first, to regulate successions; and, secondly, the respect which children owe their parents, and freedmen their patrons.
    36.-38. The thirty-eighth book, in seventeen titles, treats of a variety of subjects; of successions, and of the degree of kindred in successions; of possession; and of heirs.
    37.-39. The thirty-ninth explains the means which the law and the prAEtor take to prevent a threatened iNjury; and donations inter vivos and mortis causa.
    38.-40. The fortieth, in sixteen titles, treats of the state and condition of persons, and of what relates to freedmen and liberty.
    39.-41. The different means of acquiring and losing title to property, are explained in the forty-first book, in ten titles.
    40.-42. The forty-second, in eight titles, treats of the res judicata, and of the seizure and sale of the property of a debtor.
    41.-43. Interdicts or possessory actions are the object of the forty- third book, in three titles.
    42.-44. The forty-fourth contains an enumeration of defences which arise in consequence of the res judicata, from the lapse of time, prescription, and the like. This occupies six titles; the seventh treats of obligations and actions.
    43.-45. This speaks of stipulations, by freedmen, or by slaves. It contains only three titles.
    44.-46. This book, in eight titles, treats of securities, novations, and delegations, payments, releases, and acceptilations.
    45.-47. In the forty-seventh book are explained the punishments inflicted for private crimes, de privates delictis, among which are included larcenies, slander, libels, offences against religion, and public manners, removing boundaries, and other similar offences.
    46.-48. This book treats of public crimes, among which are enumerated those Iaesae majestatis, adultery, murder, poisoning, parricide, extortion, and the like, with rules for procedure in such cases.
    47.-49. The forty-ninth, in eighteen titles, treats of appeals, of the rights of the public treasury, of those who are in captivity, and of their repurchase.
    48.-50. The last book, in seventeen titles, explains the rights of municipalities. and then treats of a variety of public officers.
    49. Besides this division, Justinian made another, in which the fifty books were divided into seven parts: The first contains the first four books; the second, from the fifth to the eleventh book inclusive; the third, from the twelfth to the nineteenth inclusive; the fourth, from title twentieth to the twenty-seventh inclusive; the fifth, from the twenty-eighth to the thirty-sixth inclusive the sixth, commenced with the thirty seventh, and ended with the forty-fourth book; and the seventh or last was composed of the last six books.
    50. A third division, which, however, is said not to have been made by Justinian, is in three parts. The first, called digestum vetus, because it was the first printed. It commences with the first book, and. includes the work to the end of the second title of the twenty-fourth book. The second, called digestum infortiatum, because it is supported or fortified by the other two, it being the middle; it commences with the beginning of the third title of the twenty-fourth book and ends with the thirty-eighth. The third, which begins with the thirty-ninth book and ends with the work, is called digestum novum, because it was last printed.
    51. The Digest, although, compiled in Constantinople, was originally written in Latin, and afterwards translated into Greek.
    52. This work was lost to all Europe during a considerable period, as indeed all the law works of Justinian were, except some fragments of the Code and Novels. During the pillage of Amalphi, in the war between the two soi-disant popes Innocent II. and Anaclet II., a soldier discovered an old manuscript, which attracted his attention by its envelope of many colors. It was carried to the emperor, Clothaire II., and proved to be the Pandects of Justinian. The work was arranged in its present order by Warner, a German, whose name, Latinised, is Irnerius, who was appointed professor of Roman law at Bologna, by that emperor. 1 Fournel, Hist. des Avocats, 44, 46, 51.
    53. The Pandects contain all whatsoever Justinian drew out of 150,000 verses of the old books of the Roman law. The style of the Digest is very grave and pure, and differs not much from the eloquentist speech that ever the Romans used." The learning of the digest stands rather in the discussing of subtle questions of law, and enumerations of the variety of opinions of ancient lawyers thereupon, than in practical matters of daily use. The Code of Justinian differs in these respects from, the Digest. It is less methodical, but more practical; the style however, is a barbarous Thracian phrase Latinised, such as never any mean Latinist spoke. The work is otherwise rude and unskillful. Ridley's View of the Civ. & Ecc. Law, pt. 1, ch. 2, Sec. 1, and ch. 1, Sec. 2.
    54. Different opinions are entertained upon the merits of the Digest, or Pandects, Code, Authentics and Feuds, as a system of jurisprudence. By some it has been severely criticised, and even harshly censured, and by others as warmly defended the one party discovering nothing but defects, and the other as obstinately determined to find nothing but what is good and valuable. See Felangieri della Legislazione, vol. 1, c. 7. It must be confessed that it is not without defects. It might have been comprehended in less extent, and in some parts arranged in better order. It must be confessed also that it is less congenial as a whole, with the principles of free government, than the common law of England. Yet, with all these defects, it is a rich fountain of learning and reason; and of this monument of the high culture and wisdom of the Roman jurists it may be said, as of all other works in which the good so much surpasses the bad.
     Ut plura intent in carmine non ego paucis
     Offendar maculis, quas aut incuria fudit
     Aut humana parum cavit natura.
     HORAT. ART. POETIC, v. 351.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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Assembly of Kentucky which are now in force: arranged and digested
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The digested DNA was then separated from the gel and the new insert DNA was placed into the backbone plasmid using ligase.