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in law, official decision of a juryjury,
body convened to make decisions of fact in legal proceedings. Development of the Modern Jury

Historians do not agree on the origin of the English jury.
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 respecting questions of fact that the judge has laid before it. In the United States, verdicts must be unanimous in federal courts; majority verdicts are constitutionally permissible in state courts except in the case of serious crimes. The jury may be instructed to render a general verdict, a special verdict, or both. A general verdict requires the jury to decide whether the defendant is guilty (or liable, in civil cases). The jury's decision is theoretically based on whether it was convinced of the occurrence of all the facts necessary to substantiate a given violation of the criminal or civil law. A special verdict answers a specific question, e.g., did a deceased person die naturally or by violence? If the jury is required only to return a special verdict, the judge must himself decide whether the law was violated. In civil suits the judge may often modify or set aside verdicts. In criminal cases, however, a verdict of not guilty generally cannot be modified, and the accused must be discharged; the judge may in certain circumstances disregard a verdict of guilty. See jeopardyjeopardy,
in law, condition of a person charged with a crime and thus in danger of punishment. At common law a defendant could be exposed to jeopardy for the same offense only once; exposing a person twice is known as double jeopardy.
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; sentencesentence,
in criminal law, punishment that a court orders, imposed on a person convicted of criminal activity. Sentences typically consist of fines, corporal punishment, imprisonment for varying periods including life, or capital punishment, and sometimes combine two or more
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a decision (sentence) of the members of a jury on the question of the guilt or innocence of an accused person, the verdict being guilty or not guilty. Under the laws and judicial procedure of various countries, verdicts may be spoken or written and may take the form of answers to questions asked by the court or of agreement with or rejection of the indictment. In the judicial practice of the USA a distinction is made between a general verdict on the question of guilt and a special verdict when the courts have to draw their conclusions from certain specific facts. The courts decide on the penalty to be imposed on the basis of the verdict reached. The verdict is reached by the jury unanimously or by a majority vote. In Great Britain, for example, a unanimous verdict of the jury has not been required since 1967, and the same is true of a number of states of the United States.

Despite the outwardly democratic procedure used in reaching a verdict, that procedure, like the other institutions pertaining to a jury trial in bourgeois states, does not ensure genuine independence of the jury from the position taken by the judges. “The judge makes it adequately clear to the jury what their verdict should be, and the jurors dutifully and regularly reach that verdict” (F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 1, p. 636). This situation is made possible not only by the appropriate selection of the members of the jury but also by the procedure for reaching the verdict. In particular, in the United States and Great Britain the presiding officer of the court (a professional judge) delivers orally or reads out a final statement to the jurors, in which he not only gives them the essential legal clarifications they may need and sums up the position of the parties but also expresses his judgment on the acceptability and significance of the various items of evidence, of the reason for the refusal of the accused to testify, and so on. The jurors are also influenced by the position of the presiding judge, insofar as his wide powers enable him to give his active support to one of the parties. The presiding judge may call the jurors out of the deliberation room to give them additional explanations; he may nullify their verdict because of inherent contradictions or, conversely, may refuse to recognize the existence of these contradictions. He may arrange for a new consultation of the jurors to remove what he may regard as errors in the application of the law, and so on. In countries where unanimity on the verdict is required and it is not achieved by the jury, the court may direct the jury to deliberate further or he may appoint a fresh panel of jurors to begin a new examination of the case.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the findings of a jury on the issues of fact submitted to it for examination and trial; judgment
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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