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The General Law Code for the Prussian States, proclaimed on February 5, 1794, effective June 1, 1794 (1794)

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§ 12. However, it is also up to each inhabitant of the state to inquire about the laws that apply to him or his trade and his actions; and no one can excuse himself by claiming ignorance of a duly publicized law.

§ 13. Only in cases where actions that were previously allowed or viewed with indifference are newly restricted or prohibited by criminal laws should a hearing still be given to the violator's pleas that he, without having neglected his duties [to the state], was not informed of the prohibition before committing the deed.

Application of the Laws.

§ 14. New laws cannot be applied to actions and events that occurred in the past.

§ 15. However, the exception is the duly public announcement of an old law, if the lawmaker finds this necessary, in all cases that have yet to be decided. [ . . . ]

To Whom the Laws Apply.

§ 22. The laws of the state apply to all members of the state, without regard to class [Stand], rank, or gender. [ . . . ]

Interpretation of the Laws.

§ 46. In decisions on contentious cases, the judge may attach no other meaning to the laws than the words and their coherence, or the immediate unquestionable basis of the law, as it clearly casts light on the contentious matter.

§ 47. If the judge finds the actual meaning of the law dubious, then he must, without naming the litigating parties, notify the legal commission [Gesetzcommißion] of his doubts, and request their ruling.

§ 48. The questioning judge is then duty bound to base his decision in the matter on the decision of the legal commission; however, the parties are not deprived of their customary legal means against it [den Parteyen bleiben aber die gewöhnlichen Rechtsmittel dagegen unbenommen].

§ 49. If a judge finds no law that could serve to decide the contentious case, then he must search in the law books for accepted general principles and for decisions [Verordnungen] on similar cases, as best he can.

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