mute,n. 1. A person who cannot speak. [Cases: Witnesses 229. C.J.S. Witnesses § 398.] 2. A person (esp. a prisoner) who stands silent when required to answer or plead. • Formerly, if a prisoner stood mute, a jury was empaneled to determine whether the prisoner was intentionally mute or mute by an act of God. By the Criminal Law Act of 1827 (7 & 8 Geo. 4, ch. 28), if a prisoner was mute by malice, the officer automatically entered a plea of not guilty and the trial proceeded. If adjudicated to be insane, the prisoner was kept in custody until the Crown determined what should be done. — Also termed (in sense 2) standing mute.
[Blacks Law 8th]