They're wonderful. They're obscure. They're often quite pointless.
Manafort Guilty on 8 Charges, 'Mistrial' on Others
Mistrial was among our top lookups on August 21st, 2018, after Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, had a mistrial declared in 10 of the 18 charges brought against him. He was found guilty on the remaining charges.
The jury reached a verdict on eight of 18 charges, but failed to do so on the remaining 10 and the judge declared a mistrial on those.
— BBC News (www.bbb.co.uk), 21 Aug. 2018
Our definition of mistrial is "a trial that terminates without a verdict because of error, necessity, prejudicial misconduct, or a hung jury." As may be seen in the case of the Manafort case (and others in which someone is charged with multiple counts) mistrial may apply selectively to some charges on which a jury could not agree, even though the defendant may have been convicted on other charges.
Mistrial has been in use in English since the early 17th century; the word appears to exist almost entirely in judicial settings, and has not taken on the extended figurative meanings that trial has.
A man brought Debt upon a Bond conditioned to pay so much in a house of the plaintiffs in Lincoln, the defendant pleaded payment at Lincoln aforesaid, upon which they were at issue, and the Venire Fac' was de vicinet' Civitatis Lincoln', and found for the plaintiff, & it was moved, that this was a mis-trial, for that the Vnire ought to have been of the body of the County of Lincoln, and not of the City, but resolved to be good.
— England and Wales, Court of King's Bench, Reports, or, new cases with divers resolutions and judgements given upon solemn arguments, 1648
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