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50 U. Chi. L. Rev. 613 (1983)
The Early History of the Grand Jury and the Canon Law

handle is hein.journals/uclr50 and id is 629 raw text is: The Early History of the Grand Jury and
the Canon Law
R.H. Helmholzt
The modern grand jury traces its origins to the Assize of Clar-
endon, an enactment of King Henry II in 1166.1 The Assize called
for inquiry to be made, by the oath of *twelve men from every hun-
dred and four men from every vill, as to what persons were pub-
licly suspected of robbery, murder, or theft or of receiving men
guilty of those crimes. The crimes covered were expanded ten
years later by the Assize of Northampton to include forgery and
arson,2 and over the course of succeeding years the group grew to
include almost all serious crimes. Under the procedure called for
by the Assize of Clarendon, the suspected criminals were presented
before royal justices, and then their guilt or innocence was deter-
mined by the judgment of God, that is, by ordeal. From this
method of inquiry and presentment of persons suspected of serious
crimes, later expanded and adapted to changed circumstances,
grew the two-stage process of indictment and trial that we recog-
nize as the essence of common law criminal procedure.
The Assize has naturally attracted its share of scholarly atten-
tion. Its centrality in the history of criminal procedure, as well as
the mists of uncertainty that surround its adoption, its intent, and
even the accuracy of the text that has come down to us, have made
it a subject of interest for anyone curious about the development
of our law. Bishop Stubbs regarded it as of the greatest impor-
t Professor of Law, The University of Chicago. The author thanks Joseph Biancalana
for commenting on an earlier draft of this article.
I The text is printed in W. STBs, SELECT CHARTERS 170-73 (H.W.C. Davis 9th ed.
1913). An English translation appears in 2 ENGLISH HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 1042-1189, at
407-10 (D. Douglas & G. Greenaway eds. 1953); 1 SoURcEs OF ENGLISH CONSTITUTIONAL His-
TORY 76-80 (C. Stephenson & F. Marcham eds. 1972). The Assize was not a statute in the
modern sense, but its authenticity as a genuine act of Henry II's government has been vindi-
cated, despite attacks on the authenticity of its text. See Corner, The Texts of Henry M's
Assizes, in LAW-MAKING AND LAw-MAKERS IN BRITISH HISTORY 7-20 (A. Harding ed. 1980);
Holt, The Assizes of Henry II: the Texts, in THE STUDY OF MEDIEVAL RECORDS 85-106 (D.
Bullough & R. Storey eds. 1971). The attack on the authenticity of the Assize was made by
1 2 ENGLISH HISTORICAL DocuMzNTs 1042-1189, supra note 1, at 411-13; W. STUBBS,
supra note 1, at 179.

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