Evaluation of Magistrates

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Advantages of magistrates? (4)

  • There are thousands of volunteers
  • They are representitive and have more knowledge of the local community
  • There are hardly any successful appeals which show that the right decision is made
  • A bench of three allows an unbias, balanced opinion
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Disadvantages of magistrates? (5)

  • They take longer to come to a decision because they have to discuss it in a bench of three and rely on the court clerk
  • Too reliant of the police version of events
  • Some magistrates become 'case hardened' so does not base decision on merits
  • Magistrates are criticised for inconsistancy of sentencing for the same crime in different areas
  • Some are unrepresentitive of local community (normally middle-aged, middle-class men)
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What does 'case hardened' mean?

Magistrates see the same types of cases on a regular basis so may hear same defences or excuses. This means that they don't judge a case purely on its own merits.

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