Scottish verdict

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Nov 2 18:27:06 UTC 2010

On Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 7:08 PM, Robin Hamilton
<robin.hamilton3 at> wrote:

> I heard someone refer to the "Scotch verdict" on the Beeb today - also
> known as the "Scottish verdict" or "Scots verdict," i.e. a verdict of
> "not proven." It's a term I've heard dozens of times over the past 30
> years. In Scotland (I used to have a Scottish girlfriend; she dumped
> me) some people call it the "bastard verdict."
> I've heard it defined succinctly as: "Guilty but lucky."
> Robin

Doesn't "guilty but lucky" just mean "scot-free"? A different kettle
of fish from "Scots verdict," which means that after careful
deliberation of the available evidence, the judge or jury concluded
that the defendant could be found neither guilty nor innocent. Scots
law recognizes that sometimes there are no black or white or easy
solutions. There's a debate in England underway about whether to
introduce a system of first and second-degree murder, based on the
recognition that not all murders are equally heinous. Life is


Paul Frank
Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
Espace de l'Europe 16
Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland
paulfrank at
paulfrank at

The American Dialect Society -

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