Essay On The Trial By Jury Spooner

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Was it to obtain such a charter as that, that the whole nation had united, as it were, like one man, against their king?

Was it on such a charter that they intended to rely, for all future time, for the security of their liberties? They were engaged in no such senseless work as that.

Yet that idea has been an entire delusion, unless the jury have had the right to judge of the justice of the laws they were called on to enforce.

The chapter guaranteeing the trial by jury is in these words: "Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisetur, aut utlagetor, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur; nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum, vel per legem terrae." [10] The corresponding chapter in the Great Charter, granted by Henry III, (1225) and confirmed by Edward I, (1297,) (which charter is now considered the basis of the English laws and constitution,) is in nearly the same words, as follows: "Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisetur de libero tenemento, vel libertatibus, vel liberis consuetudinibus suis, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum, vel per legem terrae." The most common translation of these words, at the present day, is as follows: "No freeman shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived of his freehold, or his liberties, or free customs, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, Coke gives still a different rendering, to the effect that "No man shall be condemned at the king's suit, either before the king in his bench, nor before any other commissioner or judge whatsoever." [11] action.

The barons of England, sustained by the common people, having their king in their power, compelled him, as the price of his throne, to pledge himself that he would punish no freeman for a violation of any of his laws, unless with the consent of the peers - that is, the equals - of the accused.

Essay On The Trial By Jury Spooner

The question here arises, Whether the barons and people intended that those peers (the jury) should be mere puppets in the hands of the king, exercising no opinion of their own as to the intrinsic merits of the accusations they should try, or the of the laws they should be called on to enforce?Could this trial, then, have been such an entire farce as it necessarily must have been, if the jury had had no power to judge of the justice of the laws the people were required to obey?Did it not rather imply that the jury were to judge independently and fearlessly as to everything involved in the charge, and especially as to its intrinsic justice, and thereon give their decision, (unbiased by any legislation of the king,) whether the accused might be punished?The style of enactment generally was, either or some other form significant of the sole legislative authority of the king.The king could pass laws at any time when it pleased him.The reason of the thing, no less than the historical celebrity of the events, as securing the liberties of the people, and the veneration with which the trial by jury has continued to be regarded, notwithstanding its essence and vitality have been almost entirely extracted from it in practice, would settle the question, if other evidences had left the matter in doubt.Besides, if his laws were to be authoritative with the jury, why should John indignantly refuse, as at first he did, to grant the charter, (and finally grant it only when brought to the last extremity,) on the ground that it deprived him of all power, and left him only the name of a king?THAT the trial by jury is all that has been claimed for it in the preceding chapter, is proved both by the history and the language of the Great Charter of English Liberties, to which we are to look for a true definition of the trial by jury, and of which the guaranty for that trial is the vital, and most memorable, part.In order to judge of the object and meaning of that chapter of Magna Carta which secures the trial by jury, it is to be borne in mind that, at the time of Magna Carta, the king (with exceptions immaterial to this discussion, but which will appear hereafter) was, constitutionally, the entire government; the sole power of the nation.But as all people are slow in making resistance, oppression and usurpation often reached a great height; and, in the case of John, they had become so intolerable as to enlist the nation almost universally against him; and he was reduced to the necessity of complying with any terms the barons saw fit to dictate to him.It was under these circumstances, that the Great Charter of English Liberties was granted.


Comments Essay On The Trial By Jury Spooner

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