Scottish verdict

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Tue Nov 2 18:58:53 UTC 2010

From: Paul Frank

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

> 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.

I think this discounts the rarity (at any time) of actual not-proven
verdicts.  The presumption was that either (a) the jury felt that the
defendant was guilty as sin, but that there wasn't quite enough evidence to
convict; or (b) the jury felt that the defendant was guilty, but would have
done the same thing in their place.

Thus, in either scenario, "guilty but lucky".  Otherwise, the usual standard
'guilty' or 'not guilty verdict' was delivered.


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
Neuchâtel, Switzerland
paulfrank at
paulfrank at

The American Dialect Society -

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