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(Latin sententia, judgment).
In canon law, the decision of the court upon any issue brought before it. A sentence is definitive or interlocutory. It is definitive or final, when it defines the principal question in controversy. A definitive sentence is absolutory, if it acquits the accused; condemnatory, if it declares him guilty; declaratory, if it assert that the accused committed a crime, the penalty of which is incurred ipso facto. An interlocutory sentence is pronounced during the course of a trial to settle some incidental point arising. It is of two kinds: merely interlocutory; or having the force of a definitive sentence, affecting the main cause at issue, e.g., a declaration that the court is incompetent. A final sentence must be definitive, unconditional, given by the judge in court, in the presence of the parties concerned or their agents, in writing or dictated to the clerk to be inserted in the minutes of the trial; it must be in keeping with the charge or complaint, stating, if condemnatory, the sanction of law for the punishment imposed and once pronounced, it cannot be revoked by the same court. Interlocutory sentences are given without special formalities, and if merely interlocutory may be revoked by the judge who issues them. (See APPEALS.)
Decretals, II, 27; Commentaries on same; TAUNTON, The Law of the Church, s. v.; DROSTE-MESSMER, Canonical Procedure, etc.
ANDREW B. MEEHAN