Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Ad Quaestionem Facti Non Respondent Judices, Ad Quaestionem Juris Non Respondent Juratores Definition:

Latin: The judge instructs on points of law and the jury decides matters of fact.

Related Terms: Jury, Question of Fact, Question of Law

The ancient maxim, in Latin, proposed to the common law by both Thomas Littleton and Edward Coke, to delineate the separation of authority in a jury trial between the judge, as the authority on questions of law, and the jury, as the authority on questions of fact.

In Ex parte United States, Justice Kerner of the Circuit Court of Appeals wrote:

"In the administration of justice in England there came a transition from the local justice of the Anglo-Saxons to the King's justice of the Tudors and Stuarts. During the transition period trial by might was superseded by trial by court machinery in the form of a judge and jury. As time went on, the line of demarcation between the province of the judge and the province of the jury was being drawn. The guiding principle was later enshrined in our American Constitution: ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices, ad quaestionem juris non respondent juratores. The constitutional guaranty restrains the lay jury to the limited and special role of determining controverted issues of fact. Questions of law, methods of practice, and points of procedure are exclusively the province of the judge."

Ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices, ad quaestionem juris non respondent juratoresUniversity of Michigan law professor Edson Sunderland used these words in his 1920 article:

"No maxim of the law has been more often quoted than that which asserts the jurisdiction of the jury over matters of fact and of the judges over matters of law.

"Coke's statement is classic: The most usual trial of matters of fact is by twelve such men; for ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices; and matters in law the judges ought to decide and discusse; for ad quaestionem juris non respondent juratores.

"Like most antithetical generalizations this statement is too broad. It is suggestive rather than scientific, figurative rather than literal."

At the Harvard Law Review, Austin Wakeman Scott wrote, at about the same time:

"Trial by jury, then, involves a unanimous determination by twelve disinterested and reasonably competent persons. A determination of what? Of such matters only as are properly within the province of the jury. The jury after all has only a limited and special role. The court also has a part to play. Where, under our constitutions, is to be drawn the line which separates the province of the jury from that of the court? The guiding principle has indeed been laid down at least since the time of Lord Coke: ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices, ad quaestionem juris non respondent juratores. But the limits of this principle have never been exactly fixed; indeed, they have varied from time to time."

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