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Describe the role and powers of lay magistrates in criminal cases. b) Consider whether lay magistrates are adequately trained for their work

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Module 2 - Homework In this essay I will be looking at the question below 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 about once a fortnight. Despite being lay members within the law, they try 97% of all criminal cases and deal with preliminary hearings in the remaining 3% of criminal cases, these involve Early Administrative Hearings, remand hearings, bail applications, sentencing and transfer proceedings. Lay magistrates also deal with commitals, magistrates can commit a defendant charged with a triable either way offence for the sentence to the Crown Court at the end of the case having heard the defendants past record, they feel that their powers of punishment are insufficent. ...read more.


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 lay magistrate cannot be sued for acts of negligence whilst acting within his judicial powers. However, inability to perform their role accordingly may result in removal from office under the powers wielded by the Lord Chancellor. b) Consider whether lay magistrates are adequately trained for their work For centuries the criminal justice system has allowed a lay body to assist in administering justice to the civilian population. ...read more.


Furthermore, their role may extend to the appellate courts, in dealing with criminal appeals from the magistrates court. Here, in the Crown court, they sit with either a Circuit Judge or a Recorder again with equal voting rights as the judge though excluding any matters concerning law. In view of the above I would say that Lay magistrates are adequately trained for their work. Firstly they are not just people with no common sense, they have to have a certain standard of good education. They are given hands on training in understanding and orgainsation they are allowed to develop new skills, they are trained how to do observations of court sittings and they have visits to prisons and probation offices where they can gain first hand experience. The system does not jus allow them to practice without first going though a probationary period. They are also mentioned thoughout this period so if a person did not make the grade they would be disqualified before training was completed. So referring back to the question above, I think yes lay magistrates are adequately trained for their work. ?? ?? ?? ?? Dominique Howe Ann Hawthorne 7th November 05 ...read more.

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