Modeled on the long forgotten regulations of the Code of Justinian, the Church brought a new procedure into the legislation of the Middle Ages. Appeals were quite out of character for the local, feudal, manorial courts. “Secular justice, administered chiefly by hundreds of petty independent barons and princes, was local and weak, selfish and mercenary, crude and unprogressive,” in the words of John Wigmore, a legal historian. The ever present right of appeal to Rome in ecclesiastical courts exercised a salutary effect on inquisitorial tribunals and enabled the pontiff to satisfy himself that inequities were remedied and unworthy judges removed and false rumors dissipated. The success of the church system of justice was not lost on secular rulers, who eventually adopted appeals as a regular procedure in their reorganized and centralized court systems.
Albert Shannon, The Medieval Inquisition (1991)