Washington Law Review


Stanley B. Long


One has only to read the first few chapters of Thayer's Prelimmary Treatise on Evidence to realize that the history of trial by jury, from its beginning until the present day, records a continuous struggle to prevent the rendition of unreasonable verdicts. When the jury was really a body of witnesses summoned to try the case on their own knowledge, rather than upon evidence produced in court, it was sought to control their verdict by attaint. By this proceeding a new jury would be summoned to re-examine the issue tried by the first jury, and if the second found that the verdict of the first jury was false, the verdict would be reversed and the first jury severely punished by infamy, forfeiture of their property, and imprisonment. This crude method of controlling the jury was employed in this country in colonial times until it became obsolete because of the development of more effective devices.

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