Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Talesmen Definition:

Additional jurors summoned to complete a jury.

Related Terms: Tales de circumstantibus, Tales, Juror

Anglicized and shortened version of the maxim (as set out by Thomas Tayler):

"Tales de circumstantibus: such persons who are standing round. Those in court who frequently made up a jury, in default of summoned jurors in attendance."

In Barnes v State, Justice Chalmers of the Mississippi Supreme Court referred to  "filling up the new jury with talesmen summoned from the by-standers."

In R v Solomon, Justice Goddard of the United Kingdom court wrote:

"In our opinion, if there is a defect in the jury, that is to say, if a full jury cannot be empanelled from the names on the panel, a tales can be prayed. Whether the talesmen must be actually present in the precincts of the court or can be brought in from the street, we need not inquire, because we do not want to give a decision on any point that is immaterial. But it seems to the court that there cannot be a jury composed entirely of talesmen because the very fact that it is a tales implies that there must be a quales.

"Since writs of error were done away with, records are not now drawn up, but, if the record had been drawn up, the jury panel would have had to be set out in the record and also the names of the jurors who actually were empanelled to try the issue. If there were no jurors who were in the original panel, it would have been plain on the record that twelve people tried the prisoner who had not been summoned, and if a tales is to be summoned there must be, as it seems to the court, a jury composed partly of those who have been summoned, the quales, and added to them, if the record had been drawn up, such persons standing by as would make up the full jury. In this case all the persons who tried the case had never been summoned. If there is a complete defect or shortage of jurors, as happened in this case, the court desires to say that in their opinion the proper course is to require the sheriff to return a further panel instanter."


  • Barnes v State, [1882] Miss. Sup. Ct. 355 at page 359
  • R v Solomon, 42 Cr. App. Rep. 9 (1958)

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