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The Court of Kings Bench


THE COURT OF KING'S BENCH. The great, and to some extent, arbitrary powers of the king's chief justices caused much dissatisfaction.

In a contest between rival chief justices, as a result of which both lost their offices, one by death, the other by resignation, the Curia Regis lost its administrative functions. No successors to the chief justices were appointed, but instead a chief justice for holding pleas before the king, from which arose the court of King's Bench, about the year 1268.

Itinerant justices, or Justices in Eyre, were first appointed in 117o, and in 1179 all England was di vided into four circuits, and five justices were ap pointed for each. These included the six justices of the Curia Regis. About this time trial by inquest, the origin of the present jury trial, and the great Assize were introduced. By means of the itinerant justices and the Assizes all issues of fact involved in the royal courts at 'Westminster could be determined in the re spective counties where the causes arose, thus avoid ing the expenses of taking the witnesses and jurors up to Westminster. The verdicts rendered in the several counties at the assizes were certified back to the ap propriate Westminster courts for judgment, thus keep ing the administration of judicial matters as complete ly centralized as when first introduced by William. After 1335 no more Justices in Eyre were appointed, circuits were thereafter perambulated by the judges of Assize and Nisi Prius (unless sooner), the latter so called, because the writ to the sheriff of the county wherein the cause arose commanded him to have at Westminster on a day certain, a jury of the body of his county for the trial of the cause "unless sooner" the court or some of its judges went down to the county there to try the question of fact.

justices, chief and westminster