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    Handler, Phil 2011. The Court for Crown Cases Reserved, 1848–1908. Law and History Review, Vol. 29, Issue. 01, p. 259.


Forgery and the Twelve Judges in Eighteenth-Century England


In his thoughtful and informative article on the twelve judges and judicial review, James Oldham illuminates an important if little-studied corner of eighteenth and nineteenth-century judicial practice. For centuries judges in criminal (and civil) cases had reserved questions that presented peculiar difficulties related to procedure or the interpretation of statute to the consideration of their colleagues. We seldom glimpse much of the substance or form of these deliberations. They were private and informal discussions, although by the eighteenth century the participants in these meetings observed well-understood conventions. Oldham outlines what these rules and practices involved. Decisions, for instance, did not have to be unanimous. The majority opinion took on the force of precedent, even though the deliberations often survived only in unpublished notes or the memories of the judges. Oldham gives a strong reading to this practice. Judges not only determined which cases would be referred to their colleagues, they exercised considerable discretion in ruling on the objections that had been raised. He views this process as offering another example of the power of the judges to shape the character of legal proceedings in early modern England. They were not only correcting procedural mistakes that arose during a trial; they were actively interpreting statute. In doing so, they demonstrated their decisive role in controlling the operation of criminal justice over the long eighteenth century.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

John Langbein , “Albion's Fatal Flaws,” Past and Present 98 (1983): 96120

Douglas Hay , “The State and the Market in 1800: Lord Kenyon and Mr. Waddington,” Past and Present 162 (1999): 101–62

John Langbein , “Historical Foundations of the Law of Evidence: A View from the Ryder Sources,” Columbia Law Review 96 (1996): 1184–86

John Langbein , “Shaping the Eighteenth-Century Criminal Trial: A View from the Ryder Sources,” University of Chicago Law Review 50 (1983): 28

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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