Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and place, and purpose;1 and these are held in pursuance of sundry statutes, directing particular things (the diversion of highways, for instance) to be done at such meetings.

X. The sheriffs tourn is a court of record held twice every year before the sheriff.2' This is the great courtleet of the county, of which the county-court is the courtbaron.

XI. The court-leet, or view offrank-pledge, is a court3 of record, held once in the year, and not oftener, within a particular hundred, lordship, or manor, before the steward of the leet, being the queen's court granted by charter to the lords of those hundreds or manors. But both the tourn and the leet are now little more than matter of historical or antiquarian curiosity, and their business has, for the most part, gradually devolved upon the quarter-sessions, which it is particularly directed to do in some cases by statute 1 Ed. IV. c. ii.4

XII. "The court of the coroners5 is also a court of record, to inquire when any one dies in prison, or comes to a violent or sudden death, by what manner he came to his end. And this the coroner is only entitled to do super visum corporis."6 But of the coroner, as also of justices of the peace, we shall treat somewhat more at large in a subsequent chapter.

XIII. The court of the clerk of the market1 is incident to every market and fair in the kingdom, to punish misdemeanours therein, as the court of piepoudre is to determine

1 King v. Justices of Worcestershire, per Abbot, C. J., Bayley, J., and Holroyd, J. 2 Barn. & Aid. 228.

2 Mir. c. i. § 13 and 16. 3 4 Inst . 261. Hawk. P. C. e. ii.
4 Blackst. Com. b. iv. c. x\x. p. 273.

'4 Inst. 271. 2 Hale, P. C. 53. 2 Hawk. P. C. c. ix.
6 Blackst. Com. b. iv. c. xix. p. 373. Hawk. ibid.
» i Inst. 273. 2 Hale, P. C. 58.

civil disputes. The object of this jurisdiction1 is principally the cognisance of weights and measures, to try whether they be according to the true standard thereof or no.2

There are a few other criminal courts of greater dignity than many of these, but of a more confined and partial jurisdiction, extending only to some particular places, which the royal favour, confirmed by act of parliament, has distinguished by the privilege of having peculiar courts of their own for the punishment of crimes and misdemeanours arising within the bounds of their cognisance. These not being universally dispersed, or of general use, as the former, but confined to one spot, as well as to a determinate species of causes, may be denominated private or special courts of criminal jurisdiction. Such are the ecclesiastical courts, and the courts of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. But for greater convenience, we considered the criminal together with the civil jurisdiction of those tribunals, and they are therefore only mentioned here for the sake of order. It may, however, be proper to add, that as for the criminal courts of the university, Blackstone remarks that it will perhaps never be thought advisable to revive their proceedings, which had not been put into practice for more than a century past; and he mentions that there is an instance in the reign of queen Elizabeth, two in that of James I., and two in that of Charles I., where indictments for murder have been challenged by the vice-chancellor at the assizes, and afterwards tried before the high steward by a jury.

Blackstone also mentions, among this species of courts, the courts of the lord steward, treasurer, or comptroller, of the Jung's household, erected by statute 3 Hen. VII. c . xiv. to inquire of felony by any of the king's sworn

1 See stat. 16 Car. I. c. xix.; 22 Car. II. c. Tiii.; 23 Car. II. c. xii. 1 Blackst. Com. b. iT. c. xix. p. 274.

servants, in confederating, compassing, conspiring the death of any one of those three officers, or of any privy councillor; and the court of the lord steward of the household, or, in his absence, the treasurer, comptroller, and steward, of the marshalsea, erected by stat. 33 Hen. VIII. c. xii., with a criminal jurisdiction within the limits of any palace of the king where the king resided. But both these courts are abolished by statute 9 Geo. IV. c. xxxi.

CHAPTER XXI.

OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE.

Sir Edward Coke distinguishes two species of justice, in which the security of society consists,—justice severely punishing, and truly preventing, or preventing justice; and the latter, he says, is yet wanting. "True it is," continues that great lawyer, " that we have found by woful experience that it is not frequent and often punishment that doth prevent like offences; melior est enim Jitstitia vere prceveniens quam severe puniens, agreeing with the rule of the physician for the safety of the body, prtestat cautela quam medela: and it is a certain rule, that videbis ea tape committi quee tape vindicantur,—those offences are often committed that are often punished; for the frequency of the punishment makes it so familiar as it is not feared. For example, what a lamentable case it is to see so many Christian men and women strangled on the cursed tree of the gallows; insomuch as if in a large field a man might see together all the Christians that but in one year throughout England come to that untimely and ignominious death, if there were any spark of grace or charity in him, it would make his heart to bleed for pity and compassion. But here I leave to divines to inform the inward man, who being well informed verbo informante, the outward man will be the easier reformed virgd reformante. This preventing justice consisteth in three things :—First, in the good education of youth, and that both by good instruction of them in the grounds of the true religion of Almighty God, and by learning some knowledge or trade in their tender years, so as there should not be an idle person or a beggar, but that every child, male and female, whose parents are poor, might at the age of seven years earn their own living; for ars Jit quod a teneris primum conjungitur annii; and this for the time to come would undoubtedly, by preventing justice, avoid idleness in all (one of the foul and fatal channelthat lead into mare mortuum), and by honest trades cause them to be good members of the commonwealth. Secondly, in the execution of good laws: true it is that there be good laws already to punish idleness, but none of sufficient force or effect to set youth or the idle on work. Thirdly, that forasmuch as many do offend in hope of pardon, that pardons be very rarely granted; for the reasons in the chapter of pardons expressed. But the consideration of this preventing justice were worthy of the wisdom of a parliament; and, in the mean time, expert and wise men to make preparation for the same, as the text saith, ut benedicat eis Dominus. Blessed shall he be that layeth the first stone of this building; more blessed that proceeds in it; most of all that finishes it, to the glory of God, and the honour of our king and nation."1

The punishment of offenders ought, indeed, not to be the only, nor even the chief, means of securing society against the breach of the laws; and of this principle, which has just been set forth in the grave though quaint words of Coke, the reader should be reminded before proceeding to the examination of the administration of criminal justice. That branch of government has for its ultimate object, in many instances, the reformation of the delinquent, or, at least, the prevention, by salutary fear or

1 2 Inst, epilogue. And see Carmigmani, Elem. Jur. Crim. ToLii. p. 269, &c.

« AnteriorContinuar »