A. It is the supreme Criminal Court in the realm for the trial of great and enormous offenders, whether lords or commoners.

Q. How is the trial commenced in this Court?

A. By impeachment; that is, an accusation brought against the guilty member.

Q. What is the Court of the Lord High Steward ?

A. This tribunal is instituted for the trial of peers or peeresses supposed to be guilty of treason or felony; it is held during the recess of Parliament, for if the Parliament were sitting at the time of the trial, the case would be determined in the High Court of Parliament instead.

Q. Is the Court of Queen's Bench a criminal as well as a civil court ?

A. Yes, it is.
Q. Are prisoners tried at the Assizes ?

A. Yes; the Judges are sent not only to decide civil suits, but also to try such prisoners as have been committed to prison by Justices of the Peace or other Magistrates, and have not been tried at the General Quarter Sessions.

Q. What is the Central Criminal Court ?

A. A tribunal instituted for the benefit of the Metropolis and the adjacent parts in lieu of the Court of Assize: its Judges are certain Commissioners, the Lord Mayor of London, the Lord Chancellor, the Judges of the Superior Courts of Common Law, the Judge of the Admiralty, an ecclesiastical judge, the Aldermen of London, any person who has been Lord Chancellor or a Judge of any of the Courts of Common Law, and such others as the Crown shall appoint.

Q. What is the fundamental principle of the Law of England with respect to an accused person?

A. It considers every man innocent until a jury of his countrymen have declared him to be guilty.

Q. Who is the proper prosecutor of all public offences ?
A. The Sovereign of the realm.
Q. What is the gravest of all offences ?

A. High Treason; that is, an offence committed against the safety either of the Sovereign or of the State, by word or action.

Q. What is Misprision of Treason?

A. Neglecting to make known any treason, of the existence of which a person is conscious.

Q. What is a Felony?

A. An Act committed or omitted in breach of a public law which either forbids or commands it.

Q. What is Misprision of Felony?

A. Suffering any person committed on suspicion of felony to escape before he is tried.

Q. What is a Misdemeanour?

A. A term of milder import, which signifies any punishable offence which does not amount to a felony.

Q. How are different crimes punished ?

A. According to Acts of Parliament, which have settled a specific punishment for each.

Q. Is a criminal entitled to the assistance of an advocate in a Court of Justice ?

A. Yes, he is now, although the contrary rule formerly prevailed.

Q. When sentence of death is passed upon a person, what happens to him?

A. His blood is said to be attainted or corrupted, his goods are forfeited to the Crown, and he is no longer of any credit or reputation.

This stringent law is rarely carried into effect now; it is customary for the Queen to allow the family of the condemned man to retain the property he leaves behind him.

Q. Does a pardon or a reversal of the sentence of death restore the privileges he has lost?

A. Yes, he then stands as if he had never been accused at all.

Q. Who can pardon offences ?
A. The Sovereign alone.

Q. Is it the policy of the English Constitution to prevent offences if possible?

A. Yes, it is, and for this reason any Justice of the Peace may compel a lawless or riotous person to enter into a bond or obligation commonly called a recognizance, by which he stipulates that he will keep the peace and behave himself properly.

Criminal, relating to crime; one who commits crime (Lat.,

crimen, criminis, crime). Felony, a wicked crime, punishable by imprisonment or death

(Ang-Sax., fell, bad or wicked). Attaint, to overtake, to deprive of rights for treason (Fr., attein

dre; Lat., attingo, from ad, to, and tango, to touch).


“Our magistrate had honour, and the crowd,

Awed by his presence, their respect avowed.”—CRABBE.

Q. Who is the first Magistrate in the realm ?
A. The Sovereign.

Q. Who are her principal representatives in the magistracy?

A. Sheriffs, coroners, justices of the peace, and constables.

Q. What is the proper qualification required of all magistrates ?

A. That they be able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.

Q. Have the inhabitants of towns corporate magistrates of their own ?

A. Yes; the magistrates of towns corporate are quite distinct from the county magistrates.

Q. Who is the High Sheriff ?
A. The sheriff of a county.
Q. What are the duties of

sheriff ? A. His duties are many and great. In his judicial capacity he superintends the election of members of Parliament; as keeper of the Queen's peace, he must apprehend all persons who break the peace; in his ministerial capacity he executes the sentence of a court of justice on a criminal, though it extends to death itself; and as the Queen's bailiff, he must seize to the Queen's use all lands devolved to the Crown on failure of the heirs of the owner or on the corruption of his blood.


“And if any other person but the sheriff, even the judge himself, were to cause death to be inflicted on a man, though convicted, it would be deemed homicide.”—BLACKSTONE.

Q. Who appoints the Sheriff ?
A. He is appointed annually by the Sovereign.
Q. Is there any exception to this rule ?

A. Yes; in Westmoreland the office is hereditary; and the Corporation of London has the right of appointing the sheriff for the city.

Q. Has the Sheriff any assistants ? :

A. Yes; the Under-Sheriff usually performs all the duties of the office; he has also bailiffs under him, whose duty it is to arrest debtors; and gaolers, who must keep in safe custody all who are lawfully committed to their charge.

Q. Who is a Coroner?

A. An officer whose duty it is, when any one dies by violence, suddenly, or in prison, to inquire into the manner of his death, and to ascertain the particular circumstances respecting shipwrecks, in order to decide who shall be put in possession of goods washed ashore.

Q. How are Coroners distributed ?

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