The New International Encyclopædia/Oyer and Terminer

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OYER AND TER′MINER (AF., to hear and to determine). In English law, a commission under the King's great seal appointing certain judges to hear and determine criminal causes in and for designated circuits. This commission was very ancient in its origin, it having first been employed some time after the reign of Edward III., the exact date not being certain. Before the Judicature Act (q.v.), the commissioners, as the judges so appointed were called, constituted the Court of Oyer and Terminer. The above act vested in the High Court of Justice all the powers formerly exercised by the Court of Oyer and Terminer, but its jurisdiction of criminal offenses is still dependent upon such a commission. A special commission is sometimes issued, authorizing the judges to try certain designated criminal cases out of the regular term.

The highest court of criminal jurisdiction in the State of New York was formerly known as the Court of Oyer and Terminer, but it derived its jurisdiction from the statutes creating it and not from a commission as was the case in England. It has been merged in the Supreme Court by the Constitution.