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Assizes

commission, gaol and terminer

ASSIZES, otherwise the Courts of Oyer and Terminer and of General Gaol Delivery, are held at least twice in every year in and for every county of England, except for that part thereof within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court. At the assizes the judges sit as royal commissioners, by virtue of four authorities, viz. the commission of the peace, that of over and terminer, that of gaol delivery, and that of nisi prizes. The commission of the peace is the general commission under which magistrates derive their authority. But the commission of oyer and terminer gives the judges autho rity to try cases of treason, felony, and misdemeanour. And persons may be tried under this commission whether they are in gaol or at large, but only after a true bill has been found against them upon indictment at the same assizes. The commission of general gaol delivery authorises the judges to try, and deliver every prisoner who shall be found in gaol when they arrive at the circuit town, whenever or before whomsoever indicted, or for whatever crime committed. Sometimes, upon urgent occasions, the Crown

issues a special commission of oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, confined to those offences which stand in need of immediate inquiry and punishment. The commission of nisi prius is an authority for the trial of civil actions. Originally, all civil trials involving questions of fact were tried at West minster in some Easter or Michaelmas term by a jury of men belonging to the county in which the cause of action arose " unless sooner," nisi prius, the judges of assize should come into that county. But since 1852 there has not been in civil actions the slightest connection with the nisi prim, proviso. Provincial actions now proceed in the ordinary way in the local District Registries of the High Court, and upon the approach of an assize are set down for trial in the circuit town a local jury. See ACTION; DISTRICT REGISTRY.