Tosefta Hagigah 2:9:
Said Rabbi Yose: At first there were no disputes in Israel. Rather, there was a court of seventy-one in the Chambre of Hewn Stone, as well as other courts of twenty and twenty-three in the towns of the Land of Israel.
There were two courts of three judges each in Jerusalem: One was on the Temple Mount, and one in the rampart ("Hel").
If somebody had a question, they would go to the court in their town.
From there, law went out and spread in Israel.
- If there were no court in their town, they would go to the court that was closest to their town.
- If they had heard a tradition they would tell them.
- Otherwise he and the most distinguished of them would proceed to the court on the Temple Mount.
- If they had heard a tradition, they would tell them.
- Otherwise all of them would proceed to the court that was in the Chambre of Hewn Stone.
Even though it was composed of seventy-one judges, it required a minimum quorum of twenty-three. Should one judge need to leave, he must check whether there are twenty-three, and then he leaves; otherwise he may not leave unless twenty-three remain there...
- When a legal question was submitted,
- if they had heard a tradition they would tell them.
- Otherwise, they would stand for a vote.
- If the majority declared it impure, they pronounced it impure.
- If the majority declared it pure, they pronounced it pure.
When there was a proliferation of disciples of Shammai and Hillel, who did not adequately serve, there was a proliferation of disputes in Israel, and they became two Torahs...