Thursday, November 20, 2014

Choosing Jurors

Before taking office, every sheriff and deputy sheriff had to take an oath or affirmation that he would summon jurors in his county without favor or affection and would not tell anyone, with the exception of the court clerk, the names of the jurymen chosen by the three jury commissioners.

The laws of the Commonwealth determined who was qualified to serve as jurors. The Grand Jury consisted of white males over the age of 21 who were citizens and housekeepers of the county in which they was called to serve. The jury commissioners selected not less than 32 citizens who met the qualifications and from those 32 citizens, 16 were selected to serve as grand jurors

 "No civil officer, surveyor or a highway, owner of a grist mill, tavern-keeper, or vender of ardent spirits by license, shall be competent to serve as a grand juror." [1]

 Members of the grand jury were paid $1.00 per day for the first two days and fifty cents for each additional day they served. Failure to attend as a grand juror without reasonable cause resulted in a fine of not less than $10.

The following oath shall be administered to the grand jury: "You do swear that you will diligently inquire of and present all treasons, felonies, misdemeanors and breaches of the penal laws, which shall have been committed or done within the limits of jurisdiction of this county, of which you have knowledge or may receive information."[2]

Petit juries consisted of 12 persons who were free, white citizens, at least 21 years old, housekeeper and, also, sober, temperate, discreet and of good demeanor. Excluded from serving on a petit jury were civil officers, physicians, surgeons, attorneys  and ministers. A petit juror was paid $1.00 for each day of attendance in court. [3]

The following oath shall be administered to petit jurors: "You do swear that you will well and truly try the issue between ---, plaintiff, and ---, defendant, and a true verdict give, according to the evidence unless dismissed by the court or withdrawn by the parties."[4]

The following men were selected as a petit jury for November 1850, Hon. H.O. Brown, Judge. The list was located in a box labeled Livingston County Clerk's Office County Court Records, Box 1840-1938 (Various Loose County Records).

[1] The Revised Statutes of Kentucky Approved and Adopted by the General Assembly, 1851 and 1852, and in force from July 1, 1852, (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co.) 1867, Chapter 55 Article I, Section I:75.
[2]  The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 1851 and 1852, Chapter 55, Article I, Section VI:76.
[3]  The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 1851 and 1852,  Chapter 55, Article III, Section II:77.
[4]  The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, 1851 and 1852, Chapter 55, Article III, Section XIII:78.

Published 20 November 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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