oyer and terminer

views updated May 29 2018

oyer and terminer. After the Assizes of Clarendon and Northampton, the commission of oyer and terminer was issued to the travelling justices to visit the shire and to receive the presentments of those suspected of crime in each hundred. They were instructed to hear and determine (oyer and terminer) each case. Before 1215 they decided whether those presented should be released or put to trial by ordeal. After 1215 when the Lateran Council of the Church forbade the participation of the clergy in ordeals, the justices presided over trial by jury. Until the assizes were abolished in the 1971 Courts Act, the commission was issued to the judges of assize and read out at the beginning of each assize sessio.

Maureen Mulholland

Oyer and Terminer

views updated May 23 2018


[French, To hear and decide.] The designation "court of oyer and terminer" is frequently used as the actual title, or a portion of the title, of a state court that has criminal jurisdiction over felonious offenses.