Blog Post

Blog Post  Massachusetts Declaration of Rights – Article 12

Due Process, Right Against Self-incrimination, Right to a Jury Trial
  • Trial Court Law Libraries
Quill pen

Article 12 (1780)

No subject shall be held to answer for any crimes or offence, until the same is fully and plainly, substantially and formally, described to him; or be compelled to accuse, or furnish evidence against himself. And every subject shall have a right to produce all proofs, that may be favorable to him; to meet the witnesses against him face to face, and to be fully heard in his defense by himself, or his council at his election. And no subject shall be arrested, imprisoned, despoiled, or deprived of his property, immunities, or privileges, put out of the protection of the law, exiled, or deprived of his life, liberty, or estate, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.

Precedents, Following Law, and Quotations

Clause 39 of the Magna Carta of the Great Charter of King John Granted at Runnymede, June 15, A.D. 1215, in the Seventeenth Year of His Reign:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Nathaniel Ward, Body of Liberties, (1641):

Article 1. No mans life shall be taken away, no mans honour or good name shall be stayned, no mans person shall be arested, restrayned, banished, dismembred, nor any wayes punished, no man shall be deprived of his wife or children, no mans goods or estaite shall be taken away from him, nor any way indammaged under colour of law or Countenance of Authoritie, unlesse it be by vertue or equitie of some expresse law of the Country waranting the same, established by a generall Court and sufficiently published, or in case of the defect of a law in any parteculer case by the word of God. And in Capitall cases, or in cases concerning dismembring or banishment according to that word to be judged by the Generall Court.”

“by the judgment of his peers” : Rights and duties of women to serve on juries

Office of the Jury Commissioner, “Learn about the history of the jury system” (2018)

“Although Massachusetts was on the forefront in impaneling African-American jurors, the state lagged far behind in giving women the right to serve on juries. Women would not be given the right to perform jury service in Massachusetts until 1950, almost 100 years after Clough and Jenkins [the first African-American jurors in Massachusetts] were impaneled in Worcester.”

237 Mass. 591 (1921) “Opinion of the Justices to the House of Representatives”:

“Under the provisions of the Constitution and statutes of this Commonwealth in effect on March 17, 1921, and of art. 19 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, women could not be required and compelled to serve as jurors.

The General Court has constitutional power to enact legislation so that women may be required and compelled to serve as jurors.”

St. 1949, c. 347, “An Act Regulating the preparation of jury lists and making women, with certain exceptions, liable to serve as jurors in certain cases.” (1949)

“A person of either sex qualified to vote for representatives to the general court, whether a registered voter or not, shall be liable to serve as a juror, except . . .”

Alan Rogers, “Finish the Fight: The Struggle for Women’s Jury Service in Massachusetts”, Breaking Barriers: The Unfinished Story of Women Lawyers and Judges in Massachusetts, MCLE Legal Heritage Series, 2012, p. 42:

“The judicial system slowly integrated women jurors, but their occasional inclusion on juries did not mean equal treatment. In 1975 the Supreme Judicial Court ended the practice of underrepresenting women in jury pools, and in Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975), the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that excluding women violated the ‘fair-cross-section’ requirement’ embedded in the Sixth Amendment. . . Thirty years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment  [giving women the vote], Massachusetts women won the right to serve on juries. Still, for another quarter of a century the legislature and the courts permitted discriminatory treatment, giving free reign to the full panoply of negative stereotypes of women. After seventy-four years, women finally finished the fight and won the right to serve on juries on the same basis as men.”

  • Trial Court Law Libraries 

    There are 15 Trial Court Law Libraries located across Massachusetts to serve the courts, attorneys and the public. We are here to help you with your legal information needs.
  • Help Us Improve  with your feedback

    Please do not include personal or contact information.