Skip to comments.Court refuses trial by combat
Posted on 12/15/2002 5:13:38 PM PST by dighton
A court has rejected a 60-year-old mans attempt to invoke the ancient right to trial by combat, rather than pay a £25 fine for a minor motoring offence.
Leon Humphreys remained adamant yesterday that his right to fight a champion nominated by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was still valid under European human rights legislation. He said it would have been a reasonable way to settle the matter.
Magistrates sitting at Bury St Edmunds on Friday had disagreed and instead of accepting his offer to take on a clerk from Swansea with samurai swords, Ghurka knives or heavy hammers, fined him £200 with £100 costs.
Humphreys, an unemployed mechanic, was taken to court after refusing to pay the original £25 fixed penalty for failing to notify the DVLA that his Suzuki motorcycle was off the road.
After entering a not guilty plea, he threw down his unconventional challenge. Humphreys, from Bury St Edmunds, said: I was willing to fight a champion put up by the DVLA, but it would have been a fight to the death.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2002.
Anyone know if this method of settling a legal dispute is still legal as he claims?
I'll ping my distinguished panel of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . experts.
Oh sure, he goes for that wuss from Swansea.
I wonder if they billed T.E. Lawrence's estate for that one.
Etcetera, see #10.
Who do I gotta f%$# to get on your ping list?
No one. A
bribe gratuity of $5,000 will suffice.
The Many Variations of Trial by Combat
The variations of Medieval trial by combat were enormous. For example, 13th century English law required a robber turned "kings Evidence" to pledge to convict all his accomplices before recieving his pardon. These convictions were to be obtained via trial by combat if necessary, and the accused could challenge the turncoat robber to trial by combat before that testimony was proven. The court was pledged to pay for his outfitting to do such combat by sustaining him with a stipend and equipment for battle until his freedom or death was attained. A "bill" noted from 1190 in Lincolnshire showed an expence of one thousand ducats (15s 10d) for a certain man plus fifty ducats (1s) per diem, in addition to the 300 ducats (6s) for three combats and charges for the carts and horses to bring the accused criminals from Lincoln to London for the combat.
As this was all part of the judicial process, there were many stipulations that had to be met. Each "country" or region had its own pecularities. One fairly universal requirement was the avowing that no "soceries" were employed by either combatant. In 1355 a case developed between the Bishop of Salisbury and the Earl of Salisbury, both contesting ownership of certain lands. Upon examining the combatants personages, the judges found that the champion for the Bishop had secreted many scripts and prayers into his garb. He was disqualified and the Bishop made to pay 187,500 ducats (1,500) marks for the property.
A typical pledge before combat went something like this: "This hear you Justices, that I have this day neither eaten, drunk, nor have upon me either bone, stone, ne glass, or any enchantment, socery or witchcraft where-through the power of God might be strengthened or diminished, nor the devils power increased, and that my appeal is true, so help me God and his saints, and by this book." (circa 1571)
The 13th century English could only bring about combat in "doubtful" cases where jury decisions were not possible. Cases of violence were settled by jury but cases of suspected poisoning had the choice of confession or combat.
1) A part of the Maryland Constitution defines the common law of Maryland as the Common Law of England as of July 4, 1776
2) In A celebrated case in England in the 1850's a litigant who was due to lose a huge case in desperation issued a challenge for trial by combat to his opponents and showed up in front of the courthouse in full armor at the appointed time. When the other side failed to show up he demanded (and got) a victory by default. A reluctant judge concluded that since it never been altered by statute, trial by combat was still a valid part of English Common Law. An emergency session of Parliment was called the next week to formally outlaw the practice once and for all.
3) Maryland however, never followed suit, so technically Trial by combat remains "on the books" of MD Common Law...
(Note to self, bring an armored suit when visiting Maryland.)
If Spendenning had'nt had to leave the Governors love nest maybe we could have gotten Dr. Raoul or Sauropod to try it out.
There is some precedent. Rich twins (Scotish publishers) who own an island under the control of the Baliwick of Guernsey challenged the Baliwick's application of (interestingly) medieval law to twart the twins' inheritence scheme. They argued that the European Convention on Human Rights trumped the Baliwick law. The Channel Islands are still legally part of the Duchy of Normandy, not the UK, and thus some medieval law still prevails. I think the twins won (of course the only reason they lived in the Baliwick was to avoid income tax). This case appears opposite - defendant is attmepting to use the Convention to invoke a medieval right. I give him about as much chance as a Montana Freeman invoking (non-existent) Common Law Courts.