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What Is a Verdict?

Derived from the Latin word verus dictum, which translates to “saying the truth”, verdict is the decision provided for by a judge or jury in a court trial. It is the resolution to a legal proceeding brought to a court of law. Its finality is dependent upon the ability of the litigants to appeal. If the verdict is given by the highest court in the legal system such as the Supreme Court, then the verdict can no longer be appealed and the ruling is final.

In a criminal case, the judge or jury may provide a verdict that decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant. However, in a civil case, the judge or jury may provide a verdict that decides the presence, absence, or degree of liability as well as the amount of damages to be awarded to a litigant if such damages are considered to be necessary by the court.

Considered as the formal finding of fact by a jury or judge, the verdict is the final decision of the judge or jury based on the facts submitted to them by the litigants. A variety of verdicts exist based on the circumstances of the trial as well as the facts submitted to the court. Verdicts are not just issued by the judge or jury but may be issued by an authority whose decision is necessary to a legal proceeding. For example, a coroner’s verdict is provided by a coroner upon the inquest into a death. Other verdicts that exist are compromise verdict, quotient verdict, sealed verdict, and many more.

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