Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Jury is an assembly of men authorised to inquire into and to determine on facts, and bound by an oath to the faithful discharge of their duty. The etymological derivation of the term is obviously irompiro, "to swear,"whence we find this institution called in low Latin jurata, and the persons composing it jurati; in French, les jures; and in English, the Jury. In England, when the object is inquiry only, the tribunal is sometimes called an inquest or inquisition, as in the case of a grand jury or coroner's inquest; but, when facts are to be determined by it for judicial purposes, it is always styled a jury. When the trial by jury is spoken of at the present day it signifies the determination of facts in civil or criminal justice by twelve men sworn to decide facts truly according to the evidence produced before them. In the County Courts a jury consists of five only. Inquiry into facts on behalf of the Crown by means of juries was common in England long before the trial by jury was constituted for judicial purposes. The juries now in use in England are a grand jury, a petty or common jury, and a special jury. A grand jury is exclusively incident to a court of criminal jurisdiction. Its office is to examine into charges of crimes brought before them at assizes or sessions, and if satisfied that they are true, or at least that they deserve more particular examination, to return a bill of indictment against the accused, upon which he is afterwards tried by the petty jury. A grand jury must consist of twelve persons at the least, though in practice a greater number are usually summoned, but twelve must always concur in finding every indictment. Until the end of the 13th century the only qualification required for petty or common juries for the trial of issues in criminal or civil courts was that they should be "free and lawful men" - freemen as holding by free services or free burgesses in towns, and lawful men, that is, persons not outlawed, aliens, or minors, but entitled to the full privileges of the law of England. The statute 6 George IV., c. 50, entirely remodelled the law respecting juries. By this statute every man (with certain specified exceptions between the ages of 21 and 60 years) who has within the county in which he resides £10 a year in freehold lands or rents, or £20 a year in leaseholds for unexpired terms of at least 21 years, or who being a householder is rated to the poor rate in Middlesex on a value of not less than £30 and in any other county of not less than £20, or who occupies a house containing not less than fifteen windows, is qualified and liable to serve on juries in the superior courts, and also to serve on grand juries at the sessions of the peace and on petty juries at the sessions of the county in which he resides. By the "Jurors Act, 1870," aliens domiciled here for ten years or upwards may be jurors if otherwise qualified, and convicts (unless after pardon) are disqualified. For the several classes of persons exempted from serving on juries see the comprehensive schedules to the Act, which include peers, members of Parliament, judges, clergymen, and other ministers of religion, barristers-at-law, eertificated conveyancers, and special pleaders if actually practising, solicitors and their managing clerks, officers of courts, physicians, surgeons, if in actual practice, and many others. Special jurors are composed of such persons as are described in the Jurors' Book as esquires and persons of higher degree, or as bankers or merchants. A special jury may be obtained at the instance of either party. There is no statutory remuneration for common jurors. Special jurors are entitled to one guinea per cause under an Act passed in the reign of George IV. After the jury have appeared, and before they are sworn, they are liable to be challenged by either party, such challenges being of two sorts - (1) to the array, or (2) to the polls. A challenge to the array is an exception to the whole panel or list of jurors returned for some partiality or default in the sheriff or under-sheriff by whom it has been arrayed. Challenges to the polls are objections to particular persons either on the ground of incompetency, insufficient qualification, or of bias or partiality, or of infamy, as having been convicted of some infamous crime. Upon these challenges the cause of objection must in each case be shown to the court, which decides thereon. One of the jury is appointed foreman, and (after hearing the case and the judge's summing-up) he generally pronounces the verdict of the jury to the judge in court.