The Twenty Ninth Year of George II. - Chap. VI.
An Act for better regulating Juries.
Whereas many evil practices have been used in corrupting of jurors, returned for the tryal of issues joined to be tryed before the justices of assize or nisi prius; and many persons, being lawfully summoned to serve in juries, have neglected to appear, to the great injury of many persons in their properties and estates: in order to prevent the like practices, neglects, and abuses, be it enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty six no person or persons, other than strangers upon trials per medietatem Linguae, shall be qualified to serve as jurors for the trials of issues joined between party and party in the courts of Chancery, King’s Bench, Common-Pleas, or Exchequer, or to serve on any jury on the trial of any such issue, before any justice or justices of assize, or nisi prius, except in counties of cities, and counties of towns, that shall not be seized of a freehold of the clear yearly value of ten pounds; or, being a protestant or protestants, shall not be possessed of a lease or leases for a term of years, of which fifteen years shall be then in being and unexpired; or a lease or leases for sixty one years or more, determinable on one or more life or lives; on which leases respectively a clear profit rent of not less than fifteen pounds shall arise or accrue to the lessee thereof; and if any person of lesser estate or value than as aforesaid shall be respectively returned upon any such jury, it shall be a good cause of challenge, and the party so returned shall be discharged upon such challenge on due proof thereof, or on oath by him to be made of the truth of such matter; and the writ of venire facias, which from and after the time aforesaid shall be awarded and directed for impannelling of juries in cases aforesaid, shall be in this form:
King, and so forth, WE command, and so forth, that you cause to come before, and so forth, twelve free and lawful men of your county, every of which have ten pounds a year at least, in lands, tenements, or rents, by whom, and so forth, and who are in no ways, and so forth;
And the residue of the said writ shall be after the usual manner. And upon such writ all persons qualified by this act to serve on juries, as is before directed, whether freeholders or leaseholders, shall and may be returned, summoned, and impannelled, by virtue of this act, or any other act or acts of Parliament for that purpose; any law, statute, usage, or custom to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no sheriff or under-sheriff, bailiff, or other officer, or person whatsoever, shall directly or indirectly take or receive any money or other reward to excuse any person from serving or being summoned to serve on juries, or under that colour or pretence; and that no bailiff or other officer, appointed by any sheriff or under-sheriff to summon juries, shall summon any person to serve thereon, other than such whose name is specified in a mandate signed by such sheriff or under-sheriff, and directed to such bailiff or other officer; but shall summon every person, named in such mandate, by the space of six days at least before the time appointed for such jury to appear; and if any sheriff, under-sheriff, bailiff, or other officer, shall wilfully transgress in any of the cases aforesaid, any court where such jury is to appear, the judge or justices of assize or nisi prius may and is hereby required on examination and proof of such offence in a summary way to set a fine or fines upon any person or persons so offending, as he shall think meet, not exceeding the sum of forty pounds, nor less than twenty pounds, according to the nature of the offence, to be estreated into his Majesty’s court of Exchequer in this kingdom.
III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the first day of May in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty six every sheriff or other officer, to whom the return of the venire facias or other process for the tryal of causes before the justices of assize or nisi prius in any county doth or shall belong, shall upon his return of every such writ of venire facias, (unless in causes intended to be tryed at barr, or in cases where a special jury shall be struck by order of the court) annex a pannel to every such writ, containing the christian and sir-names, additions, and places of abode of such jurors, as he or they shall return; which number shall not be less than thirty six, nor more than sixty, without the direction of the judges appointed to go the circuit, and to fit as judges of assize or nisi prius in such county, or one of them; who are hereby respectively impowered and required, if he or they see cause, by order under his or their respective hand or hands to direct a greater or lesser number; and then such number, as shall be so directed, shall be the number to serve on such jury; and such
jury so returned shall try all the issues at that assizes; and that the writs of habeas corpora, or distringas, subsequent to such writ of venire facias, need not have inserted in the bodies of such respective writs the names of all the persons contained in such pannel; but it shall be sufficient to insert in the mandatory part of such writs respectively, the bodies of the several person named in a pannel to this writ annexed, or words of the like import, and to annex to such writs respectively pannels, containing the same names as were returned in the pannel to such venire facias with their additions and their places of abode, that the parties concerned in any such tryals may have timely notice of the jurors, who are to serve thereon, in order to make their challenges to them, if there be cause; and that for making the returns and pannels aforesaid, and annexing the same to their respective writs, no other fee or fees shall be taken, than what are now allowed by law to be taken for the return of the like writs or pannels annexed to the same; and that the persons named in such pannels shall be summoned to serve on juried at the then next assizes or sessionsof nisi prius for the respective counties to be named in such writs, and no other; any thing in this or any other law to the contrary notwithstanding.
IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the name of each and every person, who shall be summoned and impannelled as aforesaid, with his addition and the place of his abode, shall be written on several distinct pieces of parchment or paper, being all as near as may be of equal size and bigness, and shall be delivered unto the clerk of such judge of assize or nisi prius, who is to try the causes in the said county, by the sheriff or under-sheriff of the said county or other officer returning the process, and shall by the direction and care of such clerk be rolled up all, as near as may be, in the same manner, and put together in a box or glass to be provided for that purpose; and when any such cause shall be brought on to be tryed, some indifferent person by direction of the court may and shall in open court draw out twelve of the said parchments or papers one after another; and if any of the persons, whose names shall be so drawn, shall not appear, or shall be challenged and set aside, than such further number, until twelve person be drawn, who shall appear, and, after all causes of challenge, shall be allowed as fair and indifferent; and the said twelve persons so first drawn appearing and approved of as indifferent, their names being marked in the pannel, and they being sworn, shall be the jury to try the said cause; and the names of the person so drawn and sworn shall be kept by themselves in some box or glass, to be kept for that purpose, till such jury have given in their verdict, and the same is recorded, or until such jury shall by consent of
the parties or leave of the court be discharged; and then the same names shall be rolled up again, and returned to the former box or glass, there to be kept with the other names, remaining at that time undrawn, and so toties quoties as long as any cause remains to be tryed.
V. Provided always, That if any cause be brought on to be tryed in any of the said courts respectively, before the jury in any other cause shall have brought in their verdict or be discharged, ir shall and may be lawful for the court to order twelve of the residue of the said parchments or papers not containing the names of any of the jurors, who shall not have so brought in their verdict or be discharged, to be drawn in such manner as is aforesaid for the tryal of the cause, which shall be brought on to be tryed.
VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person or persons, whose name or names shall be so drawn as aforesaid, and who shall not appear after being openly called three times, shall, upon oath made by some credible person that such person so making default had been lawfully summoned, forfeit and pay for every default in not appearing upon call as aforesaid (unless some reasonable cause of his absence be proved by oath or affidavit to the satisfaction of the judge, who sits to try the said cause) such fine or fines, not exceeding the sum of twenty pounds and not less than forty shillings, as the said judge shall think reasonable to inflict or impose for such default; which fine, so imposed, the judges are hereby required to estreat into his Majesty’s court of Exchequer.
VI. Provided always, That where a view shall be allowed in any cause, that in such case six of the jurors, who shall be named in such pannel, or more, who shall be mutually consented to by the parties or their attornies on both sides, or, if they cannot agree, shall be named by the proper officer of the respective courts of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, or Exchequer, at Dublin for the causes in their respective courts, shall have the view; and such of them, as appear and shall not be challenged off, shall be first sworn upon the jury to try the said cause, before any drawing as aforesaid; and so many only shall be drawn, to be added to the viewers, who appear and are sworn, as shall, after all defaults and challenges allowed, make up the number of twelve, to be sworn for the tryal of any such cause.
VIII. Provided also, and be it declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That whensoever it shall happen, that a jury, for the tryal of any issue or issues by nisi prius, shall not be returned by the sheriff or sheriffs, but shall be returned by the coroner, or coroners, or other officer or officers legally appointed,
That such coroner or coroners, officer or officers, shall return the same number of jurors, and under the same qualifications, as the sheriff by law is bound to do; and the jurors so returned shall be ballotted for in the same manner.
IX. And whereas notwithstanding the provision made in this act to compell jurors to appear it may happen, that a sufficient number of the jurors returned may not appear after legal challenges; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a tales may be granted and returned, as hath been heretofore used and accustomed; any thing herein contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
X. And whereas for tryals of causes upon writs of nisi prius the sheriffs do return a competent number of jurors; but it often happens, that many of the said causes, which are brought down for tryal, do not go on to be tryed at the first assizes, but are brought down again to be tryed at some other subsequent assizes, whereby the jurors returned to try such causes are compelled to attend at several assizes for tryal of one and the same causes to their very great expense and trouble: be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if at any time after the commencement of this act any plaintiff or demandant in any cause between party and party depending in any of the King’s courts at Dublin, which shall be at issue, shall sue forth any writ of venire facias, upon which any writ of habeas corpora or distringas with a nisi prius shall issue, in order to the tryal of such issue at the assizes, or the sittings in the court of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, or Exchequer, in or after term for tryal by nisi prius; and that such plaintiff or demandant shall not proceed to the tryal of such issue at the said first assizes, or next sitting in the said courts, after the test of every such writ of habeas corpora or distringas with a nisi prius, then and in all such cases (other than where views by jurors shall be directed) the plaintiff or demandant, whensoever he or she shall think fit to try such issue at any other assizes or sitting in the said courts, shall sue forth and prosecute a new writ of venire facias directed to the sheriff or other returning officer; where writ being duly sworn returned and filed, a writ of habeas corporas or distringas with a nisi prius shall issue thereupon, for which the ancient and accustomed fees shall be taken, and no more, as in the case of the pluries habeas corpora, or distringas, with the nisi prius; upon which the plaintiff or demandant may proceed to tryal, as if no former writ of venire facias had been prosecuted or filed in that cause; and so toties quoties as the case shall require: and if any defendant or tenant, defendants or tenants, in any action depending in any of the said courts shall be minded to bring to tryal any issue joined, when by the course of any of the said courts,
he, she, or they may lawfully do the same by provisoe, such defendant or tenant, defendants or tenants, shall or may, the issuable term next preceding such intended trial to be had at the next assizes or sitting in the said courts, sue out a new venire facias to the sheriff, or other returning officer, by proviso, and prosecute the same by writ of habeas corpora, or distringas with a nisi prius, as though there had not been any former venire facias sued out or returned in that cause; and so toties quoties as the matter shall require.
XI. And be it enacted and declared by the authority aforesaid, That every writ of venire facias, and every writ of habeas corpora, or distringas with a nisi prius, sued out and prosecuted according to the purport and direction of this act, and all trials, entries, and proceedings thereupon, shall be good and warrantable by law, and not be erroneous, or be assigned or assignable for error; any former law or usage to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
XII. Provided always, That nothing in this act contained shall extend or be construed to qualify any person of the popish religion to serve on any jury in such cases, where by an act for explaining and amending an act, intituled, An act to prevent the further growth of popery, made in the eighth year of the reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne, or by any other law now in being, such persons are rendered incapable of being jurors, or to serve on juries, or on the trials of any issues, or any action depending in any of the courts above-mentioned, where such action or suit is commenced and carried on by a protestant against a papist, or a papist against a protestant; in which cases it shall and may be lawful to challenge any papist returned as a juror to try the issue in any such case, and assign for cause that the person so returned to serve is a papist or reputed papist; which challenge the said justice, judge, or judges, before whom the same is to be tried, shall allow, if proved, and adjudge the same to be good and legal challenge; any thing in this act contained, or in any former law, to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
XIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all trials on appeals of murder or felony shall be by jurors returned by the sheriff or other proper officer, according to the rules of the common law; any thing herein to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
XIV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall continue and be in force until the first day of May one thousand seven hundred and fifty eight, and to the end of the then next session of Parliament, and no longer.
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