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CIRCUITS (from the French cir cuit, which is from the Latin circuitus, " a going about"), in English law, denote the periodical progresses of the judges of the superior courts of common law through the several counties of England and Wales, for the purpose of administer ing justice in civil and criminal matters. The ordinary circuits take place in the spring and summer of each year. In 1843 and 1844 a winter assize was held, and it is probable that a third assize will now take place every year. These winter commissions of over and terminer and general gaol delivery have not hitherto included the counties of cities. All the circuits take place under the authority of several commissions under the great seal, issued to the judges and others associated with them on each oc casion. [Assizz.] Most barristers prac tising in the common law courts in London are attached to one or other of the circuits ; and each circuit is con stantly attended by a numerous bar. The transaction of judicial business in the pre sence of a professional audience of this kind, has been justly considered one of the best securities for the due administra tion of justice ; and in consequence of the system of circuits, this advantage is not confined to the metropolis, but is communicated to the most remote parts of England and Wales.

Since the statute 11 Geo. IV. & 1 Will. IV. c. 70, by which the ancient Welsh judicature was abolished, the cir cuits of the judges are eight iu number, and the counties of England and Wales are distributed among them in the follow ing manner :— The Northern Circuit comprehends the counties of York, Durham, Northum berland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancaster.

The Western Circuit comprehends the counties of Southampton, Wilts, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset,—and Bristol.

The Oxford Circuit comprehends the counties of Berks, Oxford, Worcester, Stafford, Salop, Hereford, Monmouth, and Gloucester.

The Midland Circuit comprehends the counties of Northampton, Rutland, Lin coin, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, and Warwick.

The Home Circuit comprehends the counties of Hertford, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.

[For several years preceding 1834 one of the judges made a circuit through the counties of Hertford, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, in the month of December, for the trial of criminals. But in that year an act was passed (4 Win. IV. c. 36) for establishing a central criminal court for London and Middlesex, and parts of Essex, Kent, and Surrey, the sessions for which are held at the Old Bailey, at least twelve times a year. The judges are the Lord Mayor, the Lord Chancellor, the Judges, the Aldermen, Recorder, and Common Sergeant of iondon, and such others as her Majesty may appoint. The jurisdiction of this court extends to all treasons, murders, felonies, and misde meanours within ten miles of St. Paul's Cathedral. Offences committed on the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England, are tried in this court.] The Norfolk Circuit comprehends the counties of Buckingham. Bedford, Hun tingdon, Cambridge with the Isle of Ely, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

The South Wales Circuit comprehends the counties of Glamorgan, Carmarthen, Pembroke, Cardigan, Brecon, and Radnor.

The North Wales Circuit comprehends the counties of Montgomery, Merioneth, Carnarvon, Anglesey, Denbigh, Flint, and Chester.

Ireland is divided into the North-East Circuit, the North-West Circuit, the Home Circuit, and the Leinster, Con naught, and Munster Circuits.

Scotland is not divided into Circuits. Assizes are held twice a year in Aber deen Inverness, Perth, Ayr, Dumfries, Jedburgh, Glasgow, Inverary, and Stir ling : at Glasgow they are held three times a year.

The total number of towns in which assizes are held is, in England, 66 ; Ire land, 34; and Scotland, 9. In many counties, especially in England, the as sizes are held alternately at two different towns of the county. In Surrey they are held in three different towns,—the Spring assizes at Kingston, and the Summer as sizes at Croydon and Guildford alter nately.

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