The members of the College of Justice served both the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary, Scotland's supreme criminal court. On any given day during the term an advocate might argue a civil case before the Court of Session or defend clients or assist prosecutors in the High Court of Justiciary. Five Lords of Session sat on the criminal court as well. Occasionally, we find printed criminal papers with Session Papers. Perhaps an advocate or judge did so because the criminal proceedings related to a concurrent civil case in which he was involved, found the criminal records to be of particular legal value in relation to civil law, or just accidentally filed the documents together.
The cases offered here are of a limited number, but criminal records intermixed with UVA's Session Papers and in the collections held by other institutions highlight the College of Justice's integrated nature. Some advocates practiced before both courts over the course of their legal careers, while shared judicial appointments bound the two courts together. They offer insight into both the development of Scottish criminal law and the Edinburgh legal community in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
|His Majesty's Advocate v. Lilburn and Buchanan||1771||Trial, homicide, pannels||On September 29, 1770, Lilburn and Buchanan passed by the bridge of Boquhan when a mastiff or bull dog attacked them. They threw rocks at the dog. Sejeant Robertson came to the bridge to get the dog and Joseph Martine came to assist him. Lilburn and Buchanan struck Joseph Martine, who died the next day. They were arraigned for trial, and admitted attacking Martine, but the Court ruled that the two men could not be guilty of homicide because twelve hours passed between the attack and Martine's death. Had help been gotten, Martine might have lived.|
|His Majesty's Advocate v. Murdison||Jan 1773||Theft, Trial, Verdict||Alexander Murdison was subject to a criminal indictment alleging that he and his herder, John Miller, stole certain sheep “or [were guilty] of receiving and having in their custody the aforesaid parcels of sheep.” Murdison was convicted, and subsequently challenged the verdict on three grounds. First, according to Murdison, the verdict did not specify whether the defendants were guilty of theft or of receiving stolen property. Second, no verdict was given on several of the specific charges in the indictment. Finally, the verdict was signed on a Sunday.|
|Campbell v. Stein||1786||Bribery, Corruption||This case was about a criminal charge of bribery. Distiller James Stein allegedly gave a package containing £500 to a Solicitor of Excise. Stein was prosecuted for attempted bribery. In response, he argued that the charged offense did not constitute a crime at common law. Additionally, Stein argued that the prosecution’s indictment was insufficient to support the charge, because it did not contain any facts demonstrating a corrupt intention.|
|Penrose-Cumming v. Lawson||1785||Freeholder, Perjury, Oath, Libel||This case was about the enforcement of qualifications to vote in a parliamentary election. Alexander Penrose-Cumming, a candidate for Parliament, alleged that his opponent, James, Earl Fife, had distributed fictitious freehold interests in order to skew the vote. Before voting, the holders of these allegedly fictitious interests were required to swear an oath attesting to their qualifications. Based on this oath, Penrose-Cumming charged the voters with perjury. One of the accused voters was John Lawson, the pannel (i.e., the defendant) in this case. Lawson argued that his oath was not false, because he was, in fact, entitled to vote. Lawson further argued that whether or not he was lawfully entitled to vote, he had reasonably believed that his oath was true.|
|Penrose-Cumming v. Rev. Leslie||1787||Libel, Title to Pursue, Oath, Perjury, Freeholder||This case was about the enforcement of qualifications to vote in a parliamentary election. Alexander Penrose-Cumming, a candidate for Parliament and a freeholder in Moray, alleged that James, Earl Fife, had distributed fictitious freehold interests in order to skew the vote. Before voting, the holders of these allegedly fictitious interests were required to swear an oath attesting to their qualifications. Based on this oath, Penrose-Cumming charged the voters with perjury. One of the accused voters was Rev. William Leslie, the pannel (i.e., the defendant) in this case. Leslie’s qualification to vote rested on a wadset (similar to a mortgage) of a superiority over part of the lands of Kinneddar. During the proceeding against him, Leslie raised a number of arguments against the charges. These included that Penrose-Cumming lacked the kind of specific injury that would give him title to pursue the case, that Penrose-Cumming had failed to allege sufficiently detailed facts, and that Leslie's rights were not, in fact, fictitious.|
|His Majesty's Advocate v. Roy and Ramsey||1816|
|Brown v. Dundas||1793|