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The official verdict reached by a jury on the factual issues presented at trial.



The official verdict reached by a jury on the factual issues presented at trial. The unanimous verdict reached by a jury and reported to the court on things legitimately brought to them throughout the course of a cause’s trial.

There are two types of verdicts: secret and public, general, partial, and exceptional.

Privy Council Decision

A privy verdict is one that is presented to a judge in private, outside of court. A verdict of this kind is submitted to the judge after the jury has agreed, for the convenience of the jury, who separate once they have given it. This decision has no weight, and since it is very vulnerable to manipulation, it is seldom, if ever, permitted in the United States.

The General Public’s Decision

A public verdict is one that is given in open court. This decision has full force and effect, and until set aside, is decisive on the facts, and when judgement is issued on it, it precludes any further debate in personal proceedings. A private judgement must then be made public in order to have any consequence.

General Conclusion

A general verdict is one in which the jury rules on both the facts and the law, either in favour of the plaintiff or the defendant. The jury may reach such a decision whenever they see proper.

Verdict in Part

In a criminal case, a partial judgement occurs when the jury acquits the defendant of part of the charge against him while finding him guilty of the remainder: Examples of this type of verdict include: when they acquit the defendant on one count and find him guilty on another, which is a type of general verdict because he is generally acquitted on one charge and generally convicted on another; when the charge is of a higher degree offence and includes one of a lesser degree, the jury may convict of the lesser degree by finding a partial verdict. Thus, if charged with burglary, the defendant may be convicted of theft and acquitted of the nighttime entry; if charged with murder, he may be convicted of manslaughter; robbery may be reduced to simple larceny; and battery may be reduced to common assault.

Special Decision

A special verdict is one in which the facts of the case are made public and the law is presented to the judges. Instead of finding the negative or affirmative of the issue, as in a general verdict, the jury has the option of finding all the facts of the case as disclosed by the evidence before them, and then concluding 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 the court shall be of opinion that the issue is proved for the plaintiff, they find…” A unique verdict is the name given to this kind of conclusion. They have nothing to do with the official formulation of the special verdict in practise. When it is decided that such a judgement would be rendered, the jury simply declares their view on any fact that remains in dispute, and the verdict is amended without their further intervention. It is settled, under the correction of the judge, by the counsel and attorneys on either side, according to the state of 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 should find on the evidence before them. When the form of the special verdict has been determined, it is recorded on record, together with the whole trial processes; and the point of law resulting from the facts discovered is debated before the court in bank, and resolved by that court as in the case of a demurrer. If any side is unhappy with the ruling, he may appeal to a court of error.

Another technique of obtaining a special verdict is when the jury returns a verdict generally in favour of the plaintiff, but subject to the view of the judges or the court above on a specific case mentioned by the counsel on both sides on a question of law.