By Barbara J. Shapiro
Dedicated to the heritage and improvement of 2 primary suggestions of Anglo-American legislation, this examine files the measure to which those key criminal doctrines have advanced through the years, and the level to which they mirror a migration of evidentiary ideas.
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Extra resources for Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Probable Cause: Historical Perspectives on the Anglo-American Law of Evidence
3 Jurors, men of the neighborhood, were assumed to know the facts and to incorporate their own knowledge in their verdict. Juries thus arrived at findings of fact guided by common sense and common knowledge. Recent research is modifying the traditional view that the medieval jury was entirely self-informing. It now appears that some jurors lived too far from the scene of the crime to have had firsthand knowledge of events. At least in private actions witnesses were examined occasionally. Verdicts were probably made on the basis of what was deemed to be personal knowledge of the facts, but that knowledge might be based on firsthand knowledge or derived from persons the jury believed.
William Perkins's Discourse of Conscience (1596) and his later Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience were designed as practical guides in resolving moral dilemmas. ''53 Its duty was to give both testimony and judgment. " Conscience functioned as "a little God sitting in the middle of men's hearts, arraigning them in this life as they shall be arraigned for the offenses" at the day of judgment. . "54 If Perkins's legalistic view of conscience was widely shared, and there is every reason to think that it was, it should not be surprising to find the language of conscience associated with that Page 16 of jury verdicts.
34 Hale's Primitive Origination of Mankind (1677) discussed evidence for matters of fact contained in Scripture in much the same way as in legal trials. It was necessary to weigh the veracity of him that reports and relates. . "36 While Hale did not use the words "moral certainty" or "beyond reasonable doubt," his terminology is consistent with those concepts. 38 Issues of credibility, which became increasingly central to criminal trials, also helped to shape the standard for the jury verdict.