Definitions

verdict

verdict

[vur-dikt]
verdict, in law, official decision of a jury respecting questions of fact that the judge has laid before it. In the United States, verdicts must be unanimous in federal courts, but majority verdicts are constitutionally permissible in state courts. The jury may be instructed to render a general verdict, a special verdict, or both. A general verdict requires the jury to decide whether the defendant is guilty (or liable, in civil cases). The jury's decision is theoretically based on whether it was convinced of the occurrence of all the facts necessary to substantiate a given violation of the criminal or civil law. A special verdict answers a specific question, e.g., did a deceased person die naturally or by violence? If the jury is required only to return a special verdict, the judge must himself decide whether the law was violated. In civil suits the judge may often modify or set aside verdicts. In criminal cases, however, a verdict of not guilty generally cannot be modified, and the accused must be discharged; the judge may in certain circumstances disregard a verdict of guilty. See jeopardy; sentence.
In law, a verdict is the formal finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. (see Black's Law Dictionary, p. 1398 (5th ed. 1979) The term, from the Latin veredictum, literally means "to say the truth" and is derived from Middle English verdit, from Anglo-Norman: a compound of ver ("true," from the Latin vērus) and dit ("speech," from the Latin dictum, the neuter form of dīcere, to say).

Criminal law

In a criminal case, the verdict is either a "not guilty" or a "guilty" finding, except in Scotland where the verdict of "not proven" is also available. Different counts in the same case may have different verdicts.

A verdict of guilty in a criminal case is generally followed by a judgment of conviction rendered by the judge, which in turn will be followed by sentencing.

In US legal nomenclature, the verdict is the finding of the jury on the questions of fact submitted to it. Once the court (the judge) receives the verdict, the judge enters judgment on the verdict. The judgment of the court is the final order in the case. If the defendant is found guilty, he can choose to appeal the case to the local Court of Appeals.

Coroner's verdict

A verdict is also issued by the coroner at the conclusion of an inquest into sudden deaths: possible verdicts include death by misadventure, accidental death, unlawful killing, lawful killing, suicide, natural causes and an open verdict.

Compromise verdict

Quotient verdict

Sealed verdict

Special verdict

In English law, a special verdict is a verdict by a jury that pronounces on the facts of the case but does not draw the ultimate inference of whether the accused is guilty or not; the judge then applies the law and to convict or acquit. In the words of William Blackstone, "The jury state the naked facts, as they find them to be proved, and pray the advice of the court thereon".

A famous instance was the case of R v. Dudley and Stephens but generally such verdicts should only be returned in the most exceptional cases.

Jury stress

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