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Law01 Revision Notes 1

Criminal Courts and Lay People

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Law01 Revision Notes 2

Lay People

Lay people are not legally qualified and are used in criminal and sometimes civil cases.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of using lay people in criminal cases.
Advantages include cost, trial by peers, community involvement, simplicity of procedure,
public confidence and fairness. Disadvantages…

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Law01 Revision Notes 3

Selection and Appointment Step-by-Step

1. Advertisements are placed locally when a new magistrate is required
2. Applicants must possess all of the six key qualities:
Good character
Understanding and Communication
Social Awareness
Maturity and Sound Temperament
Sound Judgement
Commitment and Reliability

and have good local knowledge…

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Law01 Revision Notes 4

Role and Powers

Around 29000 lay magistrates hear around 1million cases a year ­ roughly 95% of criminal
matters. Magistrates sit in benches of three, made of the chairperson and two `wingers'.

Lay magistrates are assisted by Legal Advisors who give advice on the law, procedure…

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Law01 Revision Notes 5

Arrest/search warrant requests
Giving the police permission to search premises if drugs are believed to be there,
for example

In civil matters, lay magistrates' responsibilities include:

Licensing court, responsible for hearing applications for a license to sell alcohol or
run betting/gaming establishments
Family court, under the…

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Law01 Revision Notes 6

Regulations of juries are governed by the Juries Act 1974, amended by the Criminal
Justice Act 2003.

Members of the jury are eligible if they are:

Aged between 18 and 70
On the electoral register
A resident of the UK, and have been for at least…

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Law01 Revision Notes 7

`To the array' ­ either the prosecution or defence can challenge the right for the
whole jury panel to sit on the grounds of being unrepresentative or biased.


Since Bushell's Case, juries have had the right to give a verdict according to their
conscience and…

Page 8

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Law01 Revision Notes 8

Advantages and Disadvantages of Lay People

Advantages Disadvantages
Juries Public confidence ­ Little understanding of
considered a large factor in a issues ­ jurors may not fully
democratic society. Ensures understand the issues
impartiality and fairness in a appearing in cases, and their
trial decision may…

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Law01 Revision Notes 9

on their understanding of the
evidence, however less than
10% admitted they had
difficulty understanding cases
Jury equity - decide cases Racial bias ­ prejudices
on their ideas of fairness against certain races that can
affect their verdicts

R v Gregory ­ defendant was
a black…

Page 10

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Law01 Revision Notes 10

amorphous' juries (said by
Sir Sebag Shaw)

Magistrates Cross-section of society ­ Middle-aged, middle class
members of the community ­ largely true. 40% of
used, 49% are women magistrates are retired and
compared to only 10% of mostly came from
professional judges. Ethnic professional/managerial
minorities are…


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