The Work of the Magistrates Court and Magistrates Essays

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The Work of the Magistrates Court and Magistrates

In the legal system there are many different types of courts. This essay talks about the Magistrates Courts and the Magistrates themselves. The office of magistrate dates back to the 12th century when Richard 1 appointed "keepers of the peace". They have performed judicial functions since the 13th century and the term, justice of the peace was being used as far back as 1361. Magistrates were in charge of the police up until 1839. Paid magistrates have existed since the late 18th century and they have had to be legally qualified since the mid 19th century, when it was decided they must be barristers.

Lay magistrates in England and Wales, except in
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There are five key qualities that are looked for in those applying to be magistrates, these are, understanding and communication, sound judgement and commitment, maturity and sound temperament, social awareness and reliability. They must also possess a good character and personal integrity.

Before applying to become a magistrate you must visit a magistrates court when it is in sitting, at least once. If an applicant is employed, they must establish with their employer that they will be allowed to take a reasonable amount of time off work, to undertake the duties of a magistrate.

Magistrates are not professional lawyers, in fact they may have little or no legal knowledge as they will receive training before and after their appointment. Also a court clerk always sits with the bench to advise them on relevant aspects of the law.

Three magistrates sit at each case and there is no jury. The three magistrates are referred to as 'the bench'. One of these magistrates is called the chair and will always speak for the bench. The magistrates will hear issues on fact and law and then decide the final verdict and sentence.

A magistrate must live in the local area of the court they would like to be considered
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