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Lay Magistrates…read more

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What are Lay Magistrates?
Lay Magistrates deal with the vast majority of criminal
cases in the English Legal System. All criminal cases
start in the Magistrates' Court and around one million
cases a year are heard by Magistrates.
They uphold the important principle in our legal system
of trial by ones peers. One of the great strengths of the
English legal system is the participation of ordinary
people in the administration of justice. The other area
where this is seen in the criminal justice system is in the
Crown Court where juries are used.…read more

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Appointment of Lay Magistrates
There are approximately 29,000 Lay Magistrates in
England and Wales .(In 2005 there were 28,253 Lay
Magistrates) They are unpaid volunteers and they work
part time - 26 half days per year.
Lay Magistrates are appointed by the Secretary of State
for Constitutional Affairs and the Lord Chancellor on
the advice of the Local Advisory Committees.…read more

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Appointment of Lay Magistrates
About 1,500 Lay Magistrates are appointed every year. As mentioned they are
appointed from lists put forward by the Local Advisory Committees. Names are put
forward to the Local Advisory Committees by all sorts of organisations, for example,
Trade Unions & political parties, it is now possible for individuals to put themselves
forward to the committee (apply) themselves.
There is a two-stage interview process.
The first interview is used to find out more about the candidate's personal attributes,
the panel are particularly interested in the six key qualities mentioned above. The
candidate will also be questioned to find out their attitudes on various criminal justice
issues such as drink driving and young offenders.
The second interview is aimed at testing the candidate's judicial aptitude, this is
achieved by a discussion of at least two case studies which are typical of those normally
heard in the Magistrates' Court.
Once the interviews are completed the advisory committee will submit the names of
the suitable candidates to the Lord Chancellor who will then appoint new lay
magistrates from this list.…read more

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Qualifications for Lay
Lay Magistrates do not need to have any formal legal qualifications. There are however
some requirements which were set out by the Lord Chancellor in 1998. These are
know as the six key qualities, and are as follows;
good character
understanding and communication
social awareness
maturity and sound temperament
sound judgement
commitment and reliability
There are some other more formal requirements;
be aged between 18 - 65
be prepared to sit for at least 26 half days per year
have no serious criminal record
not be an undischarged bankrupt
not be a member of the armed forces…read more

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Training of Lay Magistrates
This is supervised by the Judicial Studies Board which decides the key areas
which Magistrates need training on. The training itself is carried out locally,
often by the clerk of the court. In 1998 the Magistrates New Training
Initiative (MNTI 1) was set up. This was recently amended by the Magistrates
National Training Initiative (MNTI 2) in 2004.
This training is divided into four areas of competence;
Managing yourself - this focuses on some of the basic aspects of self-
management in relation to preparing for court, conduct in court and on going
Working as a member of a team - this focuses on the team aspect of
decision making in the Magistrates' Court
Making judicial decisions - this focuses on impartial and structured
decision making
Managing judicial decision making - this is only for the chair of the bench
and focuses on working with the clerk, managing the court and ensuring
effective, impartial decision making…read more

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