The Role and Powers of Lay Magistrates in Criminal Cases Essay

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The Role and Powers of Lay Magistrates in Criminal Cases 1a) Describe the role and powers of lay magistrates in criminal cases. b) Consider whether lay magistrates are adequately trained for their work. 1a) Describe the role and powers of lay magistrates in criminal cases. For centuries the criminal justice system has allowed lay people; people who are not legally qualified to administer justice to the civilian population. Lay magistrates are otherwise known as Justices of the Peace. Lay magistrates work is mainly connected to criminal cases although they also deal with some civil matters, especially family cases. Firstly, it is to be noted that lay magistrates only perform their duties…show more content…
Unlike other members of the judiciary, their role and functions have limitations. As individuals, lay magistrates may authorise search and arrest warrants, but mainly their functions are performed as a bench of three. This may include hearing applications for bail or be in charge of committal proceedings. In trial, they decide the facts, the sentence and the law, though the concluding is under the advice of the justice's clerk. The clerk otherwise known as the legal adivisor has to be qualified as a barrister or solicitor for at least five years. The clerk’s duty is to guide the magistrates on the question of law, practice and procedure. The clerk can not assist in the decision making and should not normally retire with the magistrates when they make their discisions. Clerks deal with ruotine admistrative matters such as issuing warrents for arrest, extend poilce bail, adhourn criminal procedings and deal with Early Adminisitrative Hearings. As lay magistrates perform an important role by being in charge over the vast majority of criminal cases, they enjoy the same advantage of immunity from suit as the rest of the judiciary as highlighted in Waltham Forest (1986) whereby the Court of Appeal held that a
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