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Arraignment

person, court, answer, guilty and judgment

ARRAIGNMENT. This word is de rived by Sir Matthew Hale from arrai Boner, ad ration em ponere, to call to account or answer, which, in ancient law French, would be ad-resoner, or, abbreviated, a resner. Conformably to this etymology, arraignment means nothing more than calling a person accused to the bar of a court of criminal judicature to answer formally to a charge made against him. The whole proceeding at present consists in calling upon the prisoner by his name, reading over to him the indictment upon which he is charged, and demanding of• him whether be is guilty or not guilty. Until very lately, if the person accused pleaded that he was not guilty, he was asked how he would be tried; to whinit question the usual answer was, " By God and my country." But by a late statute (7 & 8 Geo. IV. C. 28, sec. 1) this form was abolished; and it was enacted, that " if any person, not having privilege of peerage, being arraigned upon an indict ment for treason, felony, or piracy, shall plead ' Not guilty,' he shall, without any further form, be deemed to have put him self upon the country for trial, and the court shall, in the usual manner, order a jury for the trial of such person accord The arraignment of a prisoner is founded upon the plain principle of jus tice, that an seemed person should be called upon for his answer to a charge before he is tried or punished for it. That this was a necessary form in English criminal law at a very early period ap pears from the reversal in parliament of the judgment given against the Mortimers in the reign of Edward II., which Sir Matthew Hale calls an " excellent record."

One of the errors assigned in that judg ment, and upon which its reversal was founded, was as follows :—" That if in this realm any subject of the king hath offended against the king or any other person, by reason of which offence he may lose life or limb, and be thereupon brought before the justices for judgment, he ought to be called to account (poni rations), and his answers to the charge to be heard before proceeding to judgment against him ; whereas in this record and proceedings it is contained that the pri soners were adjudged to be drawn and hanged, without having been arraigned (arrenati) thereupon, or having an oppor tunity of answering to the charges made against them, contrary to the law and custom of this realm." (Hale's Pleas of the Crown, book ii. c. 28.) The ceremony of the prisoner holding up his band upon arraignment is merely a.ted for • the purpose of pointing out to the court the person who is called upon to plead. As it is usual to place several prisoners at the bar at the same time, it is obviously a convenient mode of direct ing the eyes of the court to the individual who is addressed by the officer. In the ease of Lord Stafford, who was tried for high treason in 1680, on the charge of being concerned in the Popish plot, the prisoner objected, in arrest of judgment. that he had not been called on to hold up his hand on his arraignment; but the judges declared the omission of this form to be no objection to the validity of the trial. (Howell's State Trials, vol. vii. p. 1555.)