Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Tales de circumstantibus Definition:

An order to the local sheriff to round up as many new jurors as may be required to complete a jury on which one or more jurors are missing or have been successfully challenged.

Related Terms: Tales, Talesmen, Juror

"By the statute 35 Hen. 8, Ch. 6 (1543), the judge was empowered to award a tales de circumstantibus, of persons present in court, to be joined to the other jurors to try the cause. If the judge issued such a writ, the sheriff brought forward talesmen from among the bystanders in the courtroom. These talesmen were then subject to the same challenges as the others."

Thus wrote Chief Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court of the United States of America in the 1984 case Press-Enterprise v Superior Court of California, of the order of a court to supplement an incomplete jury by looking at persons in attendance in the courtroom or upon such other juror list as may be maintained by the court registry or the local sheriff.

The 1908, 3rd Edition of Mozley and Whiteley's Law Dictionary, at page 335, included this, under the entry for tales:

"The judge who tries the (jury) cause can award a tales de circumstatibus; that is, to command the sheriff to return so many men duly qualified as shall be present, or can be found, to make up the number required, and to add their names to the former panel. They are hence called talesmen. Seldom now required."

In R v Rowbotham, the Court of Appeal for Ontario held:

"There is much ancient learning surrounding the summoning of jurors from among bystanders, which was known as a tales de circumstantibus. This procedure had its origin in 35 Hen. VIII, c. 6, which authorized the justices of assize or nisi prius upon a request by the plaintiff or the defendant to name and appoint, as often as need shall require, such other able persons of the county then present at the said assizes or nisi prius as shall make up a full jury. This statute applied only to civil cases but was extended ... to prosecutions at nisi prius."

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