Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 12/17/12: Failing to Plead

Under the common law, a defendant who failed to enter a plea was subjected to peine fort et dure — pressing under heavy weights — until he or she either consented to plead or died by suffocation.  In the U.S., the only recorded use was against Giley Corey in 1692, who died as a result of this procedure during the Salem Witch Trials.  It was abolished in the U.K. in 1772. In common law jurisdictions failing to plead is now treated by the court as a ‘not guilty’ plea.


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Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 12/17/12: Failing to Plead — 1 Comment

  1. Wow, what a fascinating yet gruesome legal fact! I found the social context you provided particularly interesting. Great write-up! CJH

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