Assize

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A judicial inquiry conducted by Judges acting under special commission. Before the loss of Normandy in 1204 Jersey was visited triennially by Norman Judges. In 1218 Henry III ordered the Warden of the Isles to hold Assizes, "as they were observed in the time of our grandfather", i.e. Henry II. But the Warden used to appoint Judges out of his local officials. This system favoured the local administration, and protests arose; so in 1323 Justices Itinerant began to be sent from England. In 1331 this was discontinued, and the administration of justice left to the Royal Court with appeal to the Privy Council. The later plan of sending Royal Commissioners to inquire into complaints to some extent took the place of the old Assizes. The Assize Rolls for 1299, 1304, 1309, 1320, 1333, and 1331 are preserved in the Record Office.

Today the term has come to be used for criminal trials before the Royal Court. The Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff sits with two or more Jurats and a jury of 12 (formerly 24) islanders to try serious allegations under Common Law. The accused has the right to request to be tried, not by a jury but solely by the Jurats. In either case, in the event of a conviction it is the Jurats who decide on sentence. Offences against statute law are always tried by Jurats and not by a jury.

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