Fenians, Foreigners and Jury Trials in Ireland, 1865-1870
Irish Jurist, Vol. 45, pp. 51-81, 2010
31 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2011 Last revised: 18 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 15, 2011
This paper examines the circumstances which led to the empaneling of a Swiss watchmaker, a French professor and an Italian hatter, along with nine others, to try an American Fenian in Cork in 1865. This was the trial of Captain John McCafferty, a former Confederate soldier who later became an important figure in the Irish nationalist movement. His trial for treason-felony in 1865 is a fascinating example of the use of what was known as a jury de medietate linguae; a mixed jury consisting of half locals and half aliens. It is significant because it appears to be the only recorded use of a mixed jury in Ireland, although interestingly, it attracted very little comment, despite the unusual nature of the tribunal. After a brief history of the origins and development of this unique tribunal, this article will compare the historical use of mixed juries in common law countries. McCafferty’s trial will then be considered in the wider context of the Fenian organisation’s activities in the 1860s, and particularly in light of subsequent Fenian cases where mixed juries were sought.
Keywords: Ireland, Jury, Mixed Jury, Fenians, Nationalist, Legal History, Jury Trials, Jury de Medietate Lingae, Trial, Procedure, Aliens, Other
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