Trial by Jury

With the church no longer supporting trial by ordeal, new methods are needed to determine issues of fact, evaluate the evidence, and ascertain guilt or innocence. Superstition is on the wane, and reason and informed judgment are taking hold. Each kingdom now has the opportunity to institute its own judicial practices. At this point, criminal procedure on the continent and in England go their separate ways. Continental Europe develops a system in which the judge is the principal investigator. England develops an adversarial system — trial by jury. One of the provisions of the 1166 Assize of Clarendon was that 12 family heads from each hundred be placed under oath to present accusations to the royal judges, thus creating a grand jury. By 1240, an impaneled jury is being used during trial to evaluate evidence presented by both the accused and the accusers. For some years, the grand jurors both present the accusations and hear the evidence, but an act of Parliament passed in 1352 prohibits this.

Trial, Anonymous, c.1400