Peine Forte et Dure: Compelled Jury Trials and Legal Rights in CanadaCriminal Law Quarterly (2003)
Prior to 1215, an individual in England accused by the community of a criminal offence would have likely faced one of two modes of trial.In the first, an iron was heated in a fire and then placed in the accused’s hand. The wound would be bound and, a few days later, inspected to determine if the wound had festered. If it had, God had unequivocally signalled the guilt of the accused. Alternatively, the accused might be bound and lowered into a cold pond. If he floated, his guilt was clear. If he sank, “the water was deemed to have ‘received him’ with God’s blessing”, and he was quickly retrieved. In both of these modes of trial, the fate of the accused was placed in the hands of God, who was trusted as both having absolute knowledge and being impervious to deception or influence.
Citation InformationBenjamin L Berger. "Peine Forte et Dure: Compelled Jury Trials and Legal Rights in Canada" Criminal Law Quarterly Vol. 48 Iss. 2 (2003) p. 205 - 248
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/benjamin_berger/91/