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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 80   View pdf image (33K)
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dence; it seems unlikely that requests were made to the court to charge in any par-
ticular form. After the closings, if any, the court presumably charged the jury. The
jury then deliberated on its verdict, either at the bar or upon withdrawing in the
attendance of an officer of the court such as the crier. Having concluded its deliber-
ations, the jury, perhaps having been called over by name, would return a verdict
by its foreman that it found the defendant (who had been called to the bar) guilty
or not guilty of the offense charged in the presentment, as the case might be. This
was usually entered in the Liber in formulary language but it is unlikely that, con-
sistent with English practice in felony cases, the verdict delivered contained any
statement as to flight, in the case of an acquittal, or as to goods and chattels, in case
of conviction. In one assault case the verdict was entered as if in a civil action, viz.:
"We fine for the Plantiffe, and doe fine him for the Same in the Sume of five
Shillings Sterling money of England." ss While a special verdict was permitted in
a criminal case by the English authorities, none is found in the Liber.


If a verdict of not guilty was returned, the court would adjudge that defendant
go without day except that defendant would have to remain in custody of the
sheriff until the required fees were paid. (In a hog-stealing case defendant, although
acquitted, was bound for his good behavior until the next court.) If a verdict of
guilty was returned, the court proceeded to sentence apparently without motion
for judgment by the clerk of the indictments. The later entries use a close approxi-
mation of the conventional English formula for sentence, viz.: "all and singular the
premises by the Court being seen and understood it is considered." Earlier sen-
tences usually included the indispensable "it is considered" phrase. As already in-
dicated, a fine might be imposed upon defendant or he might be ordered whipped
by the sheriff or put in the pillory or stocks. (To the extent offenders can be identi-
fied, punishments imposed are consistent with a premise of law enforcement in the
proprietary period that whipping as a punishment was confined to the servant
classes. 34) As part of the sentence he might be ordered into the custody of the
sheriff until he gave sufficient security for his appearance at the next court and for
his good behavior in the meantime (perhaps especially as to a complaining witness).
A number of sentences provided that defendant remain in the custody of the
sheriff until all fees were paid or perhaps until sufficient security was given for the
payment of such fees. In most cases in which defendants were bound by recog-
nizance to appear at the next court, entries in the Liber indicate that they appeared
in accordance with the terms of the recognizance and were then cleared or dis-
charged by proclamation.

Practice in other county courts reveals the use of motions in arrest of judgment in
criminal causes; none appears in the Liber. That criminal procedure did not ad-
here closely to English standards appears from a 1707 declaration in the Assembly
records that the practice of the courts was to be as constant as might be to that of
the Kingdom of England "except Arguing of exceptions to indictments and moving
in arrest of judgment thereon." 35 In the event a fine imposed was not paid within
a year and a day it would be necessary to proceed by scire facias.

As to payment of fees, a 1692 act specifically provided that any criminal com-
mitted to the charge of the sheriff or goaler, being discharged by order and due

33. Infra 394.

34. See Semmes, Crime and Punishment in Early Maryland 39 (1938); Merritt, Introduction to
Proceedings of the Provincial Court of Maryland, 1670/1-1675, 65 MA xxiii.

35. 27 id. 14. For use of an allocutus see infra 169.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 80   View pdf image (33K)
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