Tuesday, 13 March 2012

13th March 1812: Nottingham Lent Assizes open

Although no cases would be heard until the following Monday, on Friday 13th March 1812, Nottingham Lent Assizes were formally opened and the Grand Jury sworn in. The Leeds Mercury of 21st March gave the best coverage of the opening remarks of the Judge, Sir John Bayley:
His Lordship began by complementing the Magistracy and character of the town, on the smallness of the calendar, except two cases respecting frame-breaking, and one, connected in some degree with that crime, which was for writing a threatening letter. On the two former cases, his Lordship observed, that if the house, specified in the Calendar, had been entered with violence, for the purpose of frame breaking only, and no other damage had been done, the crime amounted to simple felony; but if other damage had been done, then the offence was capital. On the subject of the threatening letter, his Lordship observed, that if the evidence were perfectly clear to their view of the question, they then would find a bill; if not, he hoped they would not find against the prisoner; as cases of this sort should not be brought before a Petty Jury, except at the clearest evidence. At the same time he most strenuously enjoyned the Gentlemen of the Jury, equally to lay aside all prejudice against the prisoner, and all fear, from whatever quarter, for having done their duty.

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