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Magistrates














Role and selection

There are two types of magistrates, those who are unqualified
(lay magistrates who are also called justices of the peace) and
qualified magistrates (now called district judges).

Lay magistrates (also called Justices of the Peace/JP's) do not
receive a salary but receive travel, subsistence and loss…

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Update: The Courts Act 2003 and additional powers for
the magistracy

o Custody Plus: This will replace sentences of less than 12 months
and is made up of 2 to 13 weeks in custody and then a period out
on licence (minimum of 26 weeks). The period on licence can…

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A guide for applicants
An application form
A job description

The application form asks the applicant to provide the names of at
least three people who are able to comment on their suitability for
appointment. This is to enable views to be gathered on each
applicant's abilities and personal qualities.…

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special interest groups. Please also indicate any
position you hold.


Interview case studies

At the interview with the advisory committee the candidates are
asked their views on various case studies.

Example: football related offence

A football club had succeeded in getting into the play offs for
promotion to a higher…

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o Evidence that most JPs invited to apply by members of the
advisory committee "... the game of choosing JP's is supposed to be
aimed at diversity, but they are more remarkable for their likeness
to one another than their difference" (Tony Gifford QC)

o Evidence to HASC suggested that…

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In autumn 1998- the government published guidelines on the
appointment of JPs with the Advisory Committee being given
new directions and detailed guidance, e.g. issuing a job
description and key qualities needed. In addition the process of
appointing the Chair of the Advisory Committee and members
needs to be more…

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The common perception is that you need to have a legal
qualification or background to become a magistrate. In fact,
suitability for appointment is measured against six key qualities
defining personal fitness, namely:
Good character
Understanding and communication
Social awareness
Maturity and sound temperament
Sound judgement and
Commitment and reliability…

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Magistrates are not expected to be experts on the law, and the aim
of their training is mainly to familiarise them with court procedure,
the techniques of chairing, and the theory and practice of
sentencing. They undergo a short induction course on appointment,
and have to undergo basic continuous training…

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Weight of numbers: as magistrates usually sit in threes it means
that a balanced view is more likely (in comparison with one district
judge).

Local knowledge: magistrates must live within a certain distance
from the court in which they sit and consequently will be members
of their local community. Therefore…

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an element of bias and an automatic tendency to believe police
evidence. In the case of R v Binham JJ ex parte Jowitt (1974),
a magistrate confirmed this view. In this speeding case the only
evidence was that of the motorist and the police officer. The
chairman of the bench…

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