Trial by Jury (Iurati)       

Twelfth Century:  Jury for property cases (Writs)
                                Jury for criminal cases (Assize of Clarendon)

Fourth Lateran Council, 1215

Jury as a new mode of proof

Writ of 1219 to the Justices of the Eyre
1.  Major crimes, robbery, murder:  prison
2.  Medium crimes: exile
3.  Lesser crimes: fines

At first a jury trial was voluntary --- "put himself on the country"
Prison forte et dure  -- peine forte et dure

Magna Carta (1215)

38. No bailiff for the future shall, upon his own unsupported complaint, put anyone to his "law", without credible witnesses brought for this purposes.

39. No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

40. To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.


The transition from an indicting jury (Jury of Presentment) to a deciding jury (Petit Jury) was a very slow one, and there was a fairly extended period in which judges were not bound by a jury's verdict.  The idea of an impartial jury only took root in the fifteenth century.

Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Criminal Trials

1. No witnesses for the defense

2. Defendant could not testify in his defense

3. If he did not enter an plea --- peine forte et dure

Comparison to the Ordo iudiciarius (Inqusitorial Procedure) of the Ius commune


Mark Twain's Views on Juries