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The formal decision or finding made by a jury concerning the questions submitted to it during a trial. The jury reports the verdict to the court, which generally accepts it.
The decision of a jury is called a verdict. A jury is charged with hearing the evidence presented by both sides in a trial, determining the facts of the case, applying the relevant law to the facts, and voting on a final verdict. There are different types of verdicts, and the votes required to render a verdict differ depending on whether the jury hears a criminal or civil case. Though most verdicts are upheld by the judge presiding at the trial, the judge has the discretion to set aside a verdict in certain circumstances.
A general verdict is the most common form of verdict. It is a comprehensive decision on an issue. In civil cases the jury makes a decision in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant, determining liability and the amount of money damages. In criminal cases the jury decides "guilty" or "not guilty" on the charge or charges against the defendant. In cases involving a major crime the verdict must be unanimous. In minor criminal cases, however, some states allow either a majority vote or a vote of 10 to 2. In civil cases many states have moved away from the unanimity requirement and now allow votes of 10 to 2.
A special verdict is sometimes used in civil cases where complex and technical questions of fact are involved and the parties seek to assert greater control over the decision-making process. The judge gives the jury a series of specific, written, factual questions. Based upon the jury's answers, or findings of fact, the judge will determine the verdict. Special verdicts are used only infrequently because parties often have a difficult time agreeing on the precise set of questions.
U.S. law does not permit chance verdicts. A chance verdict is one that has been determined not by deliberation but by a form of chance, such as the flip of a coin or the drawing of lots. Although such verdicts were once acceptable, they are now unlawful.
A directed verdict is not made by a jury. It is a verdict ordered by the court after the evidence has been presented and the court finds it insufficient for a jury to return a verdict for the side with the Burden of Proof. A court may enter a directed verdict before the jury renders its verdict. If the court allows the jury to make a verdict but then disagrees with the jury's evaluation of the evidence, the court can decide the case by issuing an order. For example, under rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a court can grant a judgment of acquittal to a defendant. In civil cases the court can issue a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.
n. the decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final. A judgment by a judge sitting without a jury is not a verdict. A "special verdict" is a decision by the jury on the factual questions in the case, leaving the application of the law to those facts to the judge, who makes the final judgment. A "directed verdict" is a decision following an instruction by the judge that the jury can only bring in a specific verdict ("based on the evidence you must bring in a verdict of 'not guilty'"). A "chance verdict" (decided by lot or the flip of a coin), a "compromise verdict" (based on some jurors voting against their beliefs to break a deadlock), and a "quotient verdict" (averaging the amount each juror wants to award) are all improper and will result in a mistrial (having the verdict thrown out by the judge) or is cause for reversal of the judgment on appeal. (See: special verdict, compromise verdict, quotient verdict, directed verdict, judgment)
verdictvere dictum, ‘truly said’. The decision of a jury based on its interpretation of the factual evidence led and the law as stated to it by the judge. A verdict of guilty means that the jury is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did the things required to constitute the crime as legally defined. Any other verdict (including in Scotland not proven) is an acquittal and on the basis of the presumption of innocence, the accused can, indeed must, be described as innocent of the charge. In Scotland a bare majority (8 out of 15) is required for conviction. In England at first a unanimous verdict is sought but if the jury cannot agree the judge may allow for a majority verdict when there must be 10 out of 12 for the verdict - or 9 out of 10 if the number of jurors has reduced. The Scottish system has in its favour that it would be more expensive to bribe or terrify the jury and there would be more witnesses to speak to failed attempts. A perverse verdict is one to which no reasonable jury could come. Other tribunals may have different verdicts and so the Coroner's Court may find misadventure, homicide, accidental cause or suicide or may not decide and leave matters open with an open verdict.
VERDICT, Practice. The unanimous decision made by a jury and reported to the
court on the matters lawfully submitted to them in the course of the trial
of a cause.
2. Verdicts are of several kinds, namely, privy and public, general, partial, and special.
3. A privy verdict is one delivered privily to a judge out of court. A verdict of this kind is delivered to the judge after the jury have agreed, for the convenience of the jury, who after having given it, separate. This verdict is of no force whatever; and this practice being exceedingly liable to abuse, is seldom if ever allowed in the United States.
4. A public verdict is one delivered in open court. This verdict has its full effect, and unless set aside is conclusive on the facts, and when judgment is rendered upon it, bars all future controversy in personal actions. A private verdict must afterwards be given publicly in order to give it any effect.
5. A general verdict is one by which the jury pronounce at the same time on the fact and the law, either in favor of the plaintiff or defendant. Co. Lit. 228; 4 Bl. Com. 461; Code of Prac. of Lo. art. 519. The jury may find such a verdict whenever they think fit to do so.
6. A partial verdict in a criminal case is one by which the jury acquit the defendant of a part of the accusation against him, and find him guilty of the residue: the following are examples of this kind of a verdict, namely: when they acquit the defendant on one count and find him guilty on another, which is indeed a species of general verdict, as he is generally acquitted on one charge, and generally convicted on another; when the charge is of an offence of a higher, and includes one of an inferior degree, the jury may convict of the less atrocious by finding a partial verdict. Thus, upon an indictment for burglary, the defendant may be convicted of larceny, and acquitted of the nocturnal entry; upon an indictment for murder, he may be convicted of manslaughter; robbery may be softened to simple larceny; a battery, into a common assault. 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 638, and the cases there cited.
7. A special verdict is one by which the facts of the case are put on the record, and the law is submitted to the judges. Lit. Sel. Cas. 376; Breese, 176; 4 Rand. 504; 1 Hen. & Munf. 235; 1 Wash. C. C. 499; 2 Mason, 31. The jury have an option, instead of finding the negative or affirmative of the issue, as in a general verdict, to find all the facts of the case as disclosed by the evidence before them, and, after so setting them forth, to conclude to the following effect: "that they are ignorant, in point of law, on which side they ought upon those facts to find the issue; that if upon the whole matter the court shall be of opinion that the issue is proved for the plaintiff, they find for the plaintiff accordingly, and assess the damages at such a sum, &c.; but if the court are of an opposite opinion, then they find vice versa." This form of finding is called a special verdict. In practice they have nothing to do with the formal preparation of the special verdict. When it is agreed that a verdict of that kind is to be given, the jury merely declare their opinion as to any fact remaining in doubt, and then the verdict is adjusted without their further interference. It is settled, under the correction of the judge, by the counsel and, attorneys on either, side, according to the state of the facts as found by the jury, with respect to all particulars on which they have delivered an opinion, and, with respect to other particulars, according to the state of facts, which it is agreed, that they ought to find upon the evidence before them. The special verdict, when its form is thus settled is, together with the whole proceedings on the trial, then entered on record; and the question of law, arising on the facts found, is argued before the court in bank, and decided by that court as in case of a demurrer. If either party be dissatisfied with their decision, he may afterwards resort to a court of error. Steph. Pl. 113; 1 Archb. Pr. 189; 3 Bl. Com. 377; Bac. Abr. Verdict, D, E.
8. There is another method of finding a special verdict this is when the jury find a verdict generally for the plaintiff, but subject nevertheless to the opinion of the judges or the court above on a special case stated by the counsel on both sides with regard to a matter of law. 3 Bl. Com. 378; and see 10 Mass. R. 64; 11 Mass. R. 358. See, generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t..