1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Attaint, Writ of
ATTAINT, WRIT OF, an obsolete method of procedure in English law, for inquiring by a jury of twenty-four whether a false verdict had been given in a trial before an ordinary jury of twelve. If it were found that an erroneous judgment had been given, the wrong was redressed and the original jury incurred infamy, with imprisonment and forfeiture of their goods, which punishments were, however, commuted later for a pecuniary penalty. In criminal cases a writ of attaint was issued at suit of the king, and in civil cases at the suit of either party. In criminal cases it appears to have become obsolete by the end of the 15th century. Procedure by attaint in civil cases had also been gradually giving place to the practice of granting new trials, and after the decision in Bushell’s case in 1670 (see Jury) it became obsolete, and was finally abolished by the Juries Act 1825, except as regards jurors guilty of embracery (q.v.).