The judicial board of decemvirs (stlitibus judicandis) formed a civil court of ancient origin concerned mainly with questions bearing on the status of individuals.
Originally the quaestors seem to have been nominated by the consuls, but later, perhaps from the fall of the decemvirs (449 B.C.), they were elected by the people assembled in tribes (comitia tributa) under the presidency of a consul or another of the higher magistrates.
Continued agitation to this effect resulted in an agreement in 452 B.C. between patricians and plebeians that decemvirs should be appointed to draw up a code, that during their tenure of office all other magistracies should be in abeyance, that they should not be subject to appeal, but that they should be bound to maintain the laws which guaranteed by religious sanctions the rights of the plebs.
The decemvirs were finally compelled to resign and Appius Claudius died in prison, either by his own hand or by that of the executioner.
The priestly board of decemvirs (sacris faciundis) was an outcome of the claim of the plebs to a share in the administration of the state religion.
The decemvirs ruled with singular moderation, and submitted to the Comitia Centuriata a code of laws in ten headings, which was passed.
When it was decided to elect decemvirs for another year, he who had formerly been looked upon as the champion of the aristocracy, suddenly came forward as the friend of the people, and was himself re-elected together with several plebeians.
A storm of popular indignation arose and the decemvirs were forced to resign.
Five of the decemvirs were patricians, and five plebeians.
The first board of decemvirs (apparently consisting wholly of patricians) was appointed to hold office during 451 B.C.; and the chief man among them was Appius Claudius.