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Sessions

justices, quarter-sessions, peace, held, county, time and commission

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SESSIONS. A session is the peri during which any court of law sits for the transaction of judicial business; but the term Sessions is commonly used to denote the meeting of the justices of a county, or other district which has a separate commission of the peace, for the execution of the authorities conferred by the crown by that commission and of other authorities given by act of parliament.

County Sessions.—The commission of the peace issued by the crown for the purpose of creating county magistrates, consists of two branches. The former relates to the powers to be exercised by justices individually and separately. [JUS TICES.] The second branch of the com mission creates the powers of the justices when assembled in sessions. It begins as follows :—We have also assigned you, and every two or more of you (of whom any one of you, the aforesaid A. B., C. D., E. F., &c. we will shall be one), our jus tices, to inquire the truth more tully, by the oath of good and lawful men of the aforesaid county, by whom the truth of the matter shall be better known, of all and all manner of felonies, poisonings, inchantments, sorceries, arts magic, tres passes, forestallings, regratings, ingross ings, and extortions whatsoever, and of all and singular other crimes and offences, of which the justices of our peace may or ought lawfully to inquire, &c.

The words "of whom any one of you the aforesaid A. B., C. D., E. F., &c. we will shall be one," constitute the Quorum clause, so called because when the com mission was in Latin, the clause ran "quorum A. B. vel C. D. vel E. F., &c. =um esse volumus." The statute 1 Mary, Bess. 2, c. 8, s. 2, prohibits sheriffs from exercising the office of justice of the peace during the time that they act as sheriffs. If a man be created a duke, archbishop, marquess, earl, viscount, baron, bishop, knight, judge, or serjeant-at-law, his authority as justice of the peace remains. (1 Edw. VI. c. 7.) By 5 Geo. II. c. 18, s. 2, at torneys, solicitors, and proctors are pro hibited from acting as justices of the peace for any county during the time that they continue in practice.

A meeting of the justices held for the purpose of acting judicially for the whole district comprised within their commis sion constitutes a court of General Session of the peace. By 12 Rich. II. c. 10,

sessions are required to be held in every quarter of the year, or oftener if need be. The four sessions so held are styled courts of general Quarter-session of the peace, or " quarter-sessions." By different sta tutes the quarter-sessions are directed to be held at uniform periods. The times at which they are directed to be held are, the first week after the 11th of October, the first week after the 28th of December, the first week after the 31st of March, the first week after the 24th of June. Though the justices act irregularly in omitting to convene the quarter-sessions at the prescribed periods (except the April sessions, in respect of which power is expressly given to the justices to alter the time to any day between the 7th of March and the 22nd of April), sessions held as quarter-sessions in other periods of the quarter are legal quarter-sessions. When the business to be transacted at a court of quarter-sessions is not completed before the time at which it is thought de sirable for the justices to separate, the court is usually adjourned to a subsequent day ; this is also done when there is rea son to expect that new matters will arise which it will be desirable to dispose of before the next quarter-sessions. Two justices, one of them being of the quorum, may at any time convene a general sessim of the peace ; but at such additional ses sion no business can be transacted which is directed by any act of parliament to be transacted at quarter-sessions.

Both general sessions and general quarter-sessions are held by virtue of a precept under the hands of two justices, requiring the sheriff to return a grand jury before them and their fellow-justices at a day certain, not less than fifteen dap after the date of the precept, at a certain place within the district to which the commission extends, and to summon all coroners, keepers of gaols and houses of correction, high constables, and bailiffs of liberties within the county.

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