Our right to a fair trial, which underpins criminal law in the United Kingdom, the USA and many other nations, can be traced back to Magna Carta in The Great Charter defined a person's right not to be imprisoned 'but by the lawful judgment of his peers'. Down the years our legal rights have continued to evolve, and some remarkable events have helped shape the law as it stands today.
Harry Potter explains the method behind trial by ordeal.
Clip from The Strange Case of the Law. Before Magna Carta a barbaric system of justice held sway in Britain and across much of Europe. Between the ninth and 13th centuries a person's guilt or innocence was determined by trial by fire or water. Suspects were burnt with hot metal, or else bound and thrown into a pool, and it was left to God to spare the innocent.
Though discredited now, trial by ordeal was considered highly effective in this superstitious era as most guilty criminals preferred to confess and so avoid trial. Harry Potter describes the last recorded use of judicial torture. Until the midth Century someone accused of a crime could find themselves facing another terrifying ordeal: torture. In the century after , 81 torture warrants were issued in England. To extract information, criminal suspects were suspended from manacles or stretched on the notorious rack.
Things changed after the trial of John Archer in May Accused of high treason after his arrest during a riot, Archer, a glove-maker, was tortured on the rack. But his torturers learned nothing and his was the last recorded warrant for judicial torture. You shall not be dismissed till we have a verdict that the court will accept; and you shall be locked up, without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. How the trial of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, led to jury independence. We take it for granted today that a jury should be left to settle on a verdict of its own choosing in its own time.
But this wasn't always the case. In , as the state clamped down on non-conformist religions, one plucky jury refused to deliver the guilty verdict expected of it by a judge. The jury in the trial of Quakers William Penn and William Mead was promptly locked up without food or water in England's worst jail to reconsider its not guilty verdict. Frank Lane purchased and consumed one pint of Heineken.
There has been no digital footprint of Alison Lane since Saturday 25th March For the first time ever outside of the legal system you will experience the theatre and debate of the UK justice system. Executive Producer Samuel Piri. Our team of criminal barristers will lay out the evidence systematically. You decide…. Manchester Evening News.
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