The First Freedoms
The Privacy Amendments
The 5th Amendment
The 6th Amendment
Civil Trials
The Interpretive Rules

Speedy and Public Trial, Impartial Jury, and Being Informed of the Accusation

Local Juries in England and the Colonies

The proximity of the jury and the trial to the place where the crime was committed—its “vicinage”—was crucial to early Americans. When the First Continental Congress wrote its 1774 Declaration and Resolves, it asserted: “That the respective colonies are entitled to the common law of England, and more especially to the great and inestimable privilege of being tried by their peers of the vicinage.” It further alleged that England had deprived the colonies of that privilege. The Declaration of Independence likewise accused the King, not only of “depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury,” but also of “transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses.” Americans at this time were therefore very touchy on this point, and several of the first state constitutions had guaranteed to the accused a jury that was “of his vicinage” or “of the country” or “in the county” where the crime was committed.