Executive Order 750

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Under authority vested in me by law it is ordered:

  1. In all criminal prosecutions in the Canal Zone wherein the penalty of death or imprisonment for life may be inflicted, the accused shall enjoy the right of trial by an impartial jury of the district in which the crime shall have been committed, to be chosen as follows:[1]

  2. The clerk of the circuit court, the district judge, and the collector of revenue[2] for the administrative district within the circuit in which the crime shall have been committed, shall constitute a jury commission for that circuit. In the second judicial district, the district judge and the collector of revenue[2] to be members of the jury commission shall be designated by the circuit judge, upon this order becoming effective and annually thereafter, or as often as a vacancy may occur in the jury commission.

  3. Prior to the first day of the term of any circuit court, upon application of the prosecuting attorney, or by direction of the judge of the circuit in which the crime shall have been committed, the jury commission shall assemble and select the names of 60 male residents of the Canal Zone, between the ages of 21 and 65 years, in good standing and in full possession of their ordinary faculties, who shall have resided within the Canal Zone for not less than three months previously, and who shall be able to read, write, and understand the English language. Attorneys at law, physicians, ministers of an established religion, members of the military, naval, and police forces, and officers of the Commission of the rank and above the rank of resident engineers, shall be exempt from jury service. The names of the persons so selected shall be written by one of the commissioners upon slips of paper, folded so as to conceal the names, in a uniform manner and placed in a jury box.

  4. Upon the first day of the term, unless an adjournment of the trial beyond the term shall be granted, the judge shall select from the jury box the names of thirty jurors to constitute the panel for the trial of the defendant. The said jurors shall thereupon be summoned by a written notice, served upon them by the marshal of the court, to attend at the trial of the defendant upon a day named. If it appear that any of the jurors whose names have been selected are absent from the Canal Zone, or incapacitated from other cause from attending as jurors, the judge, upon the application of the marshal, shall draw the names of other jurors and direct their summons until a panel of thirty jurors shall be assembled.

  5. Upon calling the case for trial, twelve jurors shall be called to try the defendant in the order in which their names shall have been first drawn for summons by the circuit judge. Either side shall have the right to challenge any juror for cause, and, in addition thereto, the defendant and prosecuting attorney shall each have the right to challenge arbitrarily six of the said jurors. If the original panel of thirty shall be exhausted without securing twelve impartial jurors to try the defendant, the names of other jurors shall be drawn by the circuit judge from the jury box and such jurors summoned until the jury shall have been completed.

  6. The jury so selected shall, under the instructions of the court, and in conformity with the procedure prevailing in the Federal courts of the United States, determine whether, under the facts as proved, the defendant is guilty or not guilty. They shall conduct their deliberations in secret, and shall return a verdict of guilty or not guilty, which must be unanimous. Sentence shall be pronounced by the court.

  7. The circuit judge shall have the discretion to require the jury to be kept together and apart from the public from the time they are sworn until their verdict shall be returned. If they be kept together, suitable provision shall be made by the marshal of the court for their subsistence and lodging. The jurors shall be allowed a jury fee of $2 for each day actually summoned to court and engaged in the trial of a criminal action. The cost of subsistence and lodging of the jurors and the fees for the jurors' attendance shall be paid from the Treasury of the Canal Zone, upon a voucher duly approved by the circuit judge.

  8. It shall in all cases be optional with defendants to be tried before a jury as provided for in this order, or under the procedure prescribed in Section 171 of the Laws of the Canal Zone. The accused shall, however, in person or through his attorney, file a written statement with the clerk of the circuit court before which his trial is to take place, on the first day of the term for which the trial is set, stating the procedure by which he desires to be tried. The procedure having been once selected by the accused cannot thereafter be changed, but must be followed with respect to any future trial of the accused for the same offense.

Signature of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt.

The White House

February 6, 1908.


  1. Section 1 replaced by Executive Order 1792 of June 30, 1913.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Changed to "tax collector" by Executive Order 774 of March 31, 1908. Executive Order 1250 on October 4, 1910 then abolished the Office of the District Tax Collector, and replaced it with the Deputy Collector of Revenues.
Amended by

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).