Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    A judicial inquiry by a jury; the finding thereof. See Coroner.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    1. A body of men appointed by law to inquire into certain matters. The grand jury is sometimes called the "grand inquest."
    2. The judicial inquiry made by a jury summoned for the purpose is called an "inquest." The finding of such men. upon an investigation, is also called an "inquest" Pcople v. Coombs, 36 App. Div. 284, 55 N. Y. Supp. 276; Davis v. Bibb County, 116 Ga. 23, 42 S. E. 408.
    3. The inquiry by a coroner, termed a "coroner's inquest," into the manner of the death of any one Who has been slain or has died suddenly or in prison.
    4. This name is also given to a species of proceeding under the New York practice, allowable where the defendant in a civil action has not filed an affidavit of merits nor verified his answer. In such case the issue may be taken up, out of its regular order, on plaintiff's motion, and tried without the admission of any affirmative defense. An inquest is a trial of an issue of fact where the plaintiff alone introduces testimony. The defendant is entitled to appear at the taking of the inquest, and to cross-examine the plaintiff's witnesses; and, if he do appear, the inquest must be taken before a jury, unless a jury be expressly waived by him. Haines v. Davis, 6 How. Prae. (N. Y.) 118.
    —Coroner's inquest. See CORONER.
    —Inquest of lnnacy. See Lunacy.
    —Inquest of office. In English practice. An inquiry made made by the king's (or queen's) officer, his sheriff, coroner or escheator, virtute officii or by writ sent to them for that purpose or by commissioners specially appointed, concerning any matter that entitles the king to the possession of lands or tenements, goods or chattels; as to inquire whether the king's tenant for life died seised, whereby the reversion accrues to the king; whether A., who held immediately of the crown, died without heir, in which case the lands belong to the king by escheat; whether B. be attainted of treason, whereby his estate is forfeited to the crown; whether C., who has purchased land, be an alien, which is another cause of forfeiture, etc. 3 Bl. Comm. 258. These inquests of office were more frequent in practice during the continuance of the military tenures than at present; and were devised by law as an authentic means to give the king his right by solemn matter of record. Id. 258, 259; 4 Steph. Comm. 40, 41. Sometimes simply termed "office," as in the phrase "office found," (q. vt) See Atlantic & P. R. Co. v. Mingus, l65 tJ. S. 413, 17 Sup. Ct. 348, 41 In Eld. 770; Baker v. Shy, 9 Heisk. (Tenn.) 89.