Online Encyclopedia

HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 595 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY, in Scotland, the supreme criminal court, consisting of five of the lords of session together with the lord justice-general and the lord justice-clerk as president and vice-president respectively. The constitution of the court is settled by the Act 1672 c. 16. The lords of justiciary hold circuits regularly twice a year according to the ancient practice, which, however, had been allowed to fall into disuse until revived in 1748. For circuit purposes Scotland is divided into northern, southern and western districts (see CIRCUIT). Two judges generally go on a circuit, and in Glasgow they are by special statute authorized to sit in separate courts. By the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1887 all the senators of the college of justice are lords commissioners of justiciary. The high court, sitting in Edinburgh, has, in addition to its general jurisdiction, an exclusive jurisdiction for districts not within the jurisdiction of the circuits—the three Lothians, and Orkney and Shetland. The high court also takes up points of difficulty arising before the special courts, like the court for crown cases reserved in England. The court of justiciary has authority to try all crimes, unless when its jurisdiction has been excluded by special enactment of the legislature. It is also stated to have an inherent jurisdiction to punish all criminal acts, even if they have never before been treated as crimes. Its judgments are believed to be not subject to any appeal or review, but it may be doubted whether an appeal on a point of law would not lie to the house of lords. The following crimes must be prosecuted in the court of justiciary: treason, murder, robbery, rape, fire-raising, deforcement of messengers, breach of duty by magistrates, and all offences for which a statutory punishment higher than imprisonment is imposed.
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