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a person arraigned on indictment who refuses to answer a charge.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

MUTE, persons. One who is dumb. Vide Deaf and Dumb.

MUTE, STANDING MUTE, practice, crim. law. When a prisoner upon his arraignment totally refuses to answer, insists upon mere frivolous pretences, or refuses to put himself upon the country, after pleading not guilty, he is said to stand mute.
     2. In the case of the United States v. Hare, et al., Circuit Court, Maryland Dist. May sess. 1818, the prisoner standing mute was considered as if he had pleaded not guilty.
     3. The act of congress of March 3, 1825, 3 Story's L. U. S. 2002, has since provided as follows; Sec. 14, That if any person, upon his or her arraignment upon any indictment before any court of the United States for any offence, not capital, shall stand mute, or will not answer or plead to such indictment, the court shall, notwithstanding, proceed to the trial of the person, so standing mute, or refusing to answer or pleas, as if he or she had pleaded not guilty; and upon a verdict being returned by the jury, may proceed to render judgment accordingly. A similar provision is to be found in the laws of Pennsylvania.
     4. The barbarous punishment of peine forte et dure which till lately disgraced the criminal code of England, was never known in the United States. Vide Dumb; 15 Vin. Ab. 527.
     5. When a prisoner stands mute, the laws of England arrive at the forced conclusion that he is guilty, and punish him accordingly. 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 428.
     6. By the old French law, when a person accused was mute, or stood mute, it was the duty of the judge to appoint him a curator, whose duty it was to defend him, in the best manner he could; and for this purpose, he was allowed to communicate with him privately. Poth. Proced. Crim. s. 4, art. 2, Sec. 1.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
And the refugees' faces spoke mutely of their agony and humiliation.
Yet this intimacy remains alien, other to the body, which mutely seeks its correlate in the idiom of the image.
Tripplehorn arguably walks off with tour-de-force honors here, as eavesdropping Lauren mutely reacts to Rose's brazen betrayal -- going from bewilderment to disbelief, horror, chain-smoking fury and beyond, all with a subtly comic panache.
New footage -- shot on 16mm with no sync sound -- has the mutely telepathic Boo-Boo (played by Caroline Koebel but voiced, offscreen, by Beth Liseck) in a space capsule, attempting to collect electrodata through rime, while dad (radio vet Kevin Kilcoyne) makes incendiary broadcasts from a tucked-away bunker.
The depicted objects seem as though they ought to symbolically represent something other than what they are, but their mutely insistent thingness or heterogeneity somehow crowds out whatever room for interpretation the paintings offer.
Murphy's choice of subject matter seems to point mutely toward a bid for the mythic, the archetypal, the enigmatic, the gorgeously mysterious.
TWe must stand mutely by the water cooler as our colleagues gasp and cackle at what the Night King did to Arya Stark or vice versa, or how long it took Daenerys Targaryen to shed her clothes in last night's episode, or which brother and sister got it on together.
It's chilling to see a vulnerable Sargam being violated in the open by a law enforcement officer as his junior watches them mutely. We don't see the heinous act, but we feel her helplessness, shame and fury.
They had heated arguments, while Shabana and Om watched mutely. By the end of the shooting, matters had come to a boil.
Separating children from parents -- and watching mutely as armed troops are sent to the border to combat, literally, a caravan of migrants, including some children -- should be an outrage.
Because I'm not given to gab, I sit mutely at most meetings, waiting them out.
For a product and beneficiary of grand corruption, President Uhuru Kenyatta has done the unthinkable in vowing to eliminate the cancer of graft.But instead of citizens uniting as one behind the war against a scourge that affects all, they are sitting back mutely and allowing selfish, greedy, corrupt leaders to mount a fight-back meant to preserve their parasitic ways.