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Download Frontmatter & Introduction (576 KB)

Download Chapter 1: The Criminal Trial Jury: Origins and Early Development - an Interpretive Overview (1.4 MB)

Download Chapter 2: Societal Concepts of Criminal Liability and Jury Nullification of the Law in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (2.0 MB)

Download Chapter 3: Judge, Jury, and the Evolution of the Criminal Law in Medieval England (2.1 MB)

Download Chapter 4: The Transformation of Jury Trial in Early Modern England (2.6 MB)

Download Chapter 5: Conscience and the True Law: The Ideology of Jury Law-Finding in the Interregnum (2.5 MB)

Download Chapter 6: The Principle of Noncoercion: The Contest over the Role of the Jury in the Restoration (3.5 MB)

Download Chapter 7: Jury Trial and Its Critics in the Eighteenth Century (2.7 MB)

Download Chapter 8: The Jury, Seditious Libel, and the Criminal Law (2.0 MB)

Download Chapter 9: Epilogue and Conclusion (1.5 MB)

Download Indexes (1.1 MB)


This book treats the history of the English criminal trial jury from its origins to the eve of the Victorian reforms in the criminal law. It consists of eight free-standing essays on important aspects of that history and a conclusion. Each chapter addresses the phenomenon that has come to be known as "jury nullification," the exercise of jury discretion in favor of a defendant whom the jury nonetheless believes to have committed the act with which he is charged. Historically, some instances of nullification reflect the jury's view that the act in question is not unlawful, while in other cases the jury does not quarrel with the law but believes that the prescribed sanction is too severe. Order is imposed on the book not by time but by a unity of concern. This approach trades the continuity of a comprehensive narrative for a more detailed treatment of issues and events of particular significance.

With one exception, these essays are not concerned with establishing the fact of nullification. No one who has studied the history of criminal law doubts that on occasion this practice occurs. (Indeed, the practice is a central topic in many of the important studies of the social history of crime that have appeared in recent years.) What interests me most is not the persistence of nullification but its imp_act through time on the substantive law, on the administration of the law, and on the ways in which Englishmen-officials, jurists, and laymen-thought about both the jury and the law. It is on these aspects that I focus, and it is that focus that makes the book (at least in the author's mind) a general social and intellectual history of an important element of English criminal law.



Publication Date



University of Chicago Press




England, Trials, Juries, Guilt, Innocence, Crimes, History, Freedom, Medieval law, Punishment, Acquittals, Essays, Justice, Pardons, Law reform, Jury nullification, Discretion, Behavior


Comparative and Foreign Law | Criminal Procedure | Legal History

Verdict According to Conscience: Perspectives on the English Criminal Trial Jury 1200-1800