Selection of Magistrates

1- Application

2- Role of Advisory Committee (group, select Magistrates) (check for disqualification, balancing factors, age, gender, ethnicity, political affiliation, employment)

3- Two stage interview (key qualities, judicial skills)

4- Reccommendation for appointment

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Appointment of Magistrates

1- background checks (ministry of justice

2- appointment by Lord chancellor/ Secretary of State for justice

3- appointment on behalf of the crown

4- initial training (role of mentor)

5- swearing in

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Work undertaken by Magistrates

  • criminal jurisdiction (summary, either-way, indictable only offences)- trial/ sentencing/ committal of sentence/ sending for trial
  • warrants
  • bail
  • youth court
  • family jurisdiction/ examples of work
  • licensing appeals panel
  • enforcement of local taxes
  • role of crown court appeals
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Advantages of using Magistrates in the ELS

  • lay perspective (ordinary people from community
  • local knowledge (sit in court near to home town)
  • cheaper than professional judiciary (paid expenses and loss of earnings)
  • positive aspects of shared decision making (3 heads better than one)

(ELS= English Legal System)

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Disadvantages of using Magistrates in the ELS

  • not legally qualified (more likely to misapply the law)
  • over-reliance on the legal adviser
  • inconsistency (bail and sentencing decisions criticised)
  • local bias (eg repeat offenders and 'headline' offences)
  • 'middle aged, middle class, middle minded' (issues to do with background of magistrates)
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