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Trial by Oath

Posted by Andrew Segal | Sep 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

What mummified hands, the oath, and the modern jury trial have in common.

Our legal system has always struggled to determine the truth.

Up until very recently, it was common for witnesses who were to give testimony to be sworn in upon a Bible where they would swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

The idea of swearing on a Bible is an ancient one. The idea is that a person would not want to risk the cost of eternal damnation by falsely swearing. In medieval times it wasn't only a Bible that people with swear upon. People would also swear upon a variety of holy relics whether it might be what was believed to be a piece of the true cross or even the mummified hand of a saint.

The other of determining truth by way of an oath was having 12 good men swear an oath your credibility. In other words, those 12 men who eventually became jurors did not originally judge whether somebody was truthful, they swear the person was truthful. The idea was that it would be hard to find 12 men willing to risk eternal damnation to lie on your behalf. Over time the 12 came not to swear for the truthfulness of the accused but judge the truthfulness of the accused.

In other words, those 12 men who eventually became jurors did not originally judge whether somebody was truthful, they would swear the person was truthful. The idea was that it would be hard to find 12 men willing to risk eternal damnation to lie on your behalf. Over time the 12 came not to swear for the truthfulness of the accused but judge the truthfulness of the accused.

Of course, if you're in the legal jam and you need our help, just contact us here

About the Author

Andrew Segal

Andrew Segal is a former prosecutor who now represents the accused as a criminal defense attorney in Huntsville, Alabama area courts. Andrew graduated cum laude from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1982. During his time at Washington College of Law at American University, he discovered hi...

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