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Criminal Court(s); the judges or commissioners whereof are the lord mayor of London ; the Lord Chancellor or lord keeper; the judges of the courts at Westminster; the judge of the admiralty; the dean of the arches; the aldermen of London; the recorder and common serjeant of London; the judge of the city of London court; any person who has been Lord Chancellor or lord keeper, or a judge of any of the courts at Westminster; and such others as the Crown shall from time to time appoint (t). And it is provided that the Crown may issue its commission of oyer and terminer and gaol delivery to such court (u); and that the said judges, or any two or more of them (v), shall hold a session in the city of London or suburbs thereof, at least twelve times in every year (and oftener if need be),—such times to be fixed by General Orders of the said court; which Orders any eight or more
within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, may be removed to that court by certiorari (4 & 5 Will. 4, c. 36, s. 16). In this court, also, offences committed out of its jurisdiction may nevertheless be tried by order of the Queen's Bench, under 19 & 20 Vict. c. 16, and 25 & 26 Vict. c. 65.
(8) Before the establishment of the Central Criminal Court, there existed “ the court of the Sessions house in the Old Bailey," where the sessions of oyer and terminer and general gaol delivery for the city of London and the county of Middlesex, were holden eight times in the year. It may be remarked, that by 4 & 5 Will. 4, c. 36, s. 13, it was required that no indictment should be presented before the grand jury of the Central Criminal Court, unless the party prosecuting first entered into recogni
zances to prosecute, but this enactment was repcaled by 9 & 10 Vict. c. 24, s. 2. By 19 & 20 Vict. c. 16, ss. 22, 23, however, the court is enabled, in cases ordered by the Queen's Bench to be tried there under that Act, to require (if it see fit) either the person charged, or the prosecutor and witnesses, to enter into recognizances.
(t) 4 & 5 Will. 4, c. 36, s. 1. Among the persons named in the text, those who usually sit to try prisoners in the Central Criminal Court, are certain of the judges of the superior courts of law, the recorder, the common serjeant, and the judge of the city of London Court.
(u) Sect. 2.
(v) As to the effect of these words, see Leverson v. The Queen, Law Rep., 4 Q. B. 394.
of the superior judges are empowered from time to time to make (x).
6. The Court of General Quarter Sessions of the peace is a court that must be held, in every county, once in every quarter of a year (y): and by statute 11 Geo. IV. & 1 Will. IV. c. 70, s. 35, the quarter sessions are appointed to be held in the first week after the 11th day of October ; the first week after the 28th day of December; the first week after the 31st day of March; and the first week after the 24th day of June (z). [This court is held before two or more justices of the peace (a); one of whom must be of the quorum (6). Its jurisdiction, by statute 34 Edw. III. c. 1, extended in general to the trying and determining of all felonies and trespasses whatsoever,
(x) 4 & 5 Will. 4, c. 36, s. 15.
(y) 4 Inst. 170; 2 Hale, P. C. 42; Hawk. P. C. b. 2, c. 8. As to the origin of this court, see Harding v. Pollock, 6 Bing. 30. This court is called “the general quarter sessions of the peace,” when held quarterly; when held otherwise, “the general sessions of the peace." (See R. v. Justices of Carmarthen, 4 B. & Ald. 291.) As to the general sessions of the peace in Middlesex, see 7 & 8 Vict. c. 71, ss. 2, 3; 22 & 23 Vict. c. 4, s. 4.
(z) By 4 & 5 Will. 4, c. 47, however, after reciting that in some counties of England and Wales the time usually fixed for holding spring assizes interferes with the due holding of the quarter sessions, in the first week after the 31st of March ; and that though the justices have authority to hold general sessions of the peace at other times of the year, besides those specified in 11 Geo. 4 & 1 Will. 4, c. 70, such sessions are not quarter sessions within the intent of various Acts of parliament,
which give jurisdiction to the justices of the peace in their quarter sessions, or in their general quarter sessions,—it is enacted, that to prevent the interference of the spring assizes with the April quarter sessions, the justices of the Epiphany sessions may, (if they see occasion,) name two of their body to fix some day for holding the next general quarter sessions, not earlier than 7th of March, nor later than 22nd of April.
(a) As to justices of the peace generally, vide sup. vol. 11. pp. 642 —651.
(6) As to the powers of the justices, to divide themselves into several courts of sessions of the peace for dispatch of business, see 7 Will. 4 & 1 Vict. c. 19, s. 4; 14 & 15 Vict. c. 55, s. 15; 21 & 22 Vict. c. 73, ss. 9-11.
See also 1 & 2 Vict. c. 4, to remove doubts as to the legality of summoning juries for the trial of prisoners at adjourned quarter sessions.
[committed within the county; but it was never usual to try in this court any greater offences than small felonies; their commission providing that if any case of difficulty arose, the justices of the peace should not proceed to judgment, but in the presence of one of the justices of the Queen's Bench or Common Pleas, or of one of the judges of assize; and therefore murders, and other capital felonies, were usually remitted for a more solemn trial at the assizes (c).] And now it is expressly provided, by statute, that the justices of any county shall not, at any general or quarter sessions, try any prisoner for treason, murder or capital felony; nor for any felony, which when committed by a person not previously convicted of felony, is punishable with penal servitude for life (d); nor for any of the particular offences enumerated in 5 & 6 Vict. c. 38 (e). They are also restrained from trying persons
(c) By 11 & 12 Vict. c. 78, the 13. Seditious, blasphemous, or defacourt of quarter sessions is enabled matory libels. 14. Bribery. 15. Unto reserve any question of law for lawful combinations and conspirathe consideration of the justices of cies, with certain exceptions. 16. either bench and of the barons of Stealing, &c. records, &c. 17. Stealthe Exchequer.
ing, &c. bills, &c., and written do(d) See 4 & 5 Vict. c. 56; 5 & 6 cuments relating to real estate. The Vict. c. 38; 20 & 21 Vict. c. 3. Act also included offences against
(e) These are,-1. Misprision of the bankrupt laws, but by the extreason. 2. Offences against the press provision of the Bankruptcy queen's title, prerogative or govern- Act, 1869 (32 & 33 Vict. c. 71, s. 20), ment, or against either house of par- these may now be tried at the quarliament. 3. Offences subject to the ter sessions. penalties of præmunire. 4. Blas- Courts of general or quarter sesphemy and offences against religion. sions are also restrained, by 9 Geo. 5. Administering or taking unlaw- 4, c. 69, from trying the offence of ful oaths. 6. Perjury and subor- three or more persons pursuing game nation of perjury. 7. Making or by night. They were also prohibited suborning false oaths, &c., punish- by 9 & 10 Vict. c. 25, from trying able as perjuries or misdemeanors. any of the offences (chiefly falling 8. Forgery. 9. Maliciously firing under the class of malicious injuries corn, grain, &c., wood, trees, &c., or to property) made punishable by heath, gorse, &c. 10. Bigamy, and that Act. It may, however, be nooffences against the laws relating to ticed, that the 9 & 10 Vict. c. 25 is marriage. 11. Abduction of women repealed by 24 & 25 Vict. c. 95, and girls. 12. Concealing births. and that no prohibitory clause to
charged with fraudulent practices, as agents, trustees, bankers, or factors under the Larceny Act of 1861 (f). [Neither can they try any newly-created offence, without express power given them by the statute which creates it (g). But there are many offences and particular matters, which by particular statutes belong properly to this jurisdiction, and ought to be prosecuted in this court,--as the smaller misdemeanors and felonies; and especially offences relating to the game, highways, ale houses, bastard children, the settlement and provision for the poor, servants' wages, and apprentices (h).] Some of these are
, proceeded upon by indictment; others by way of appeal from the orders or convictions of justices out of sessions; and others in a summary way by motion and order thereupon. An order of the court of quarter sessions may, as the general rule, unless prevented by the provisions of some particular statute, be removed into the Court of Queen's Bench by writ of certiorari facias (i); and be there either quashed or confirmed (k). But the removal of an indictment can (as we have seen) now only take place under certain circumstances (?). The records or rolls of the sessions, are committed to the custody of a special officer, denominated the custos rotulorum; who is always a justice of the quorum, and, “among them of the quorum,” saith Lambard, “a man for the most part especially picked out either for wisdom, countenance or credit" (m). The nomination of the custos rotulorum is by the royal sign manual; and to him the nomination
the same effect is inserted in the 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97, the Malicious Injuries to Property Act, 1861.
(J) 24 & 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 87.
(9) R. v. Buggs, 4 Mod. 379; Salk. 406.
(1) See Lamb. Eirenarcha, and Burn's Justice.
(i) Hawk. P. C. b. 2, c. 27, ss. 22, 23.
(k) See R. v. Joseph, 1 W.W. & H. 419; R. v. Joule, 5 A. & E. 539; R. v. Higgins, ibid. 554. As to the removal of the orders of quarter sessions into the Queen's Bench, to be enforced there, 12 & 13 Vict. c. 45, s. 18. (Hawker v. Field, 1 L. M. & P. 606.)
(1) Vide sap. p. 307.
[of the clerk of the peace belongs,—an officer who acts as clerk to the court of quarter sessions, and records all their proceedings (n).]
As regards the county of Middlesex in particular,— it has been enacted, by 7 & 8 Vict. c. 71, (amended by 22 & 23 Vict. c. 4,) that there shall be holden for that county two sessions, or adjourned sessions, of the peace in every calendar month; and that the first sessions in January, April, July and October, respectively, shall be the general quarter sessions of the county (0); and that the second sessions in January, April, July and October, shall be adjournments of the general quarter sessions. It is also provided therein, that it shall be lawful for her majesty to appoint a person,-being a serjeant, or a barrister at law of not less than ten years' standing, and in the commission of the peace for the county, and qualified by law to act as justice of the peace,—to be the Assistant Judge of the said court of sessions of the peace; who shall preside at the hearing of all appeals, on the trials of all felonies and misdemeanors, and all matters connected therewith ; and who shall hold his office during good behaviour (p).
(n) 37 Hen. 8, c. 1; 1 W. & M. st. 1, c. 21 ; Harding 1. Pollock, 6 Bing. 25. As to the suspension or dismissal of the clerk of the peace, see 1 W. & M. st. 1, c. 21, s. 6; 27 & 28 Vict. c. 65; The Queen v. Hayward, 2 B. & Smith, 585; Wilde v. Russell, Law Rep., 1 C. P. 722. He is to take the custody of such ducuments as are directed to be deposited with him, under the standing orders of either house of parliament. (7 Will. 4 & 1 Vict. c. 83; see R. v. Payn, 6 A. & E. 392.) As to his remuneration (which used to be by fees, but may now, at the discretion of the justices, be by salary), see 14 & 15 Vict. c. 55, s. 9; and see also
18 & 19 Vict. c. 126, s. 18. As to conveyances of land, &c., to the clerk of the peace or treasurer of the county, see 21 & 22 Vict. c. 92. As to the clerk of the peace for the County Palatine of Lancaster, see 35 & 36 Vict. c. 73.
(o) It is enacted by 22 & 23 Vict. c. 4, s. 4, that every general sessions for Middlesex shall have the powers, &c., of a general quarter sessions of that county.
(p) In cases of sickness or unavoidable absence, or such occasion as shall be allowed by a secretary of state, the assistant judge may appoint from time to time a deputy. (7 & 8 Vict. c. 71, s. 8.) By 14 & 15