Magistrates : The Backbone Of The Criminal Justice System

859 Words Oct 23rd, 2014 4 Pages
Magistrates are considered the backbone of the criminal Justice system dealing with over 95% of all criminal cases in England and Wales (The Judicial Office, 2014a) That idea appears to be supported by their varied role and hearing over 1.5 to 2 million criminal cases each year which go through the Magistrates’ Courts (Ministry of Justice, 2012). However there are many criticisms of their use in the criminal justice system which will be examined further to determine the value of their role.
There are approximately 23,000 magistrates (The Judicial Office, 2014a) who are trained, part time, unpaid members, appointed by the Lord Chancellor, on recommendation from the Local Advisory Committee. ‘Justices of the Peace’ as they are also known are not legally qualified, do receive some training, however they receive legal and procedural advice by a legally qualified Clerk to the Justices (The Judicial Office, 2014a).
A major advantage of the use and involvement of ordinary “lay” people in the operation of the law, is that it promotes public confidence, enhancing democracy within the legal system whilst also giving a common sense perspective (Simmonds, 2014) Furthermore, due to trials being open to the public, justice is seen to be done.
In support of this, Baroness Seccombe (Hansard, 2000) quoted the former Lord Chief Justice “The noble and learned Lord, Lord Bingham, said “The existence of 30,000 citizens distributed around the country, all with a sound, practical understanding…
Open Document