What are the advantages of using lay people in the magistrates court when dealing with criminal convictions.
What are the advantages of using lay people in the Crown Court
Lay magistrates Revision
Powers of a singles lay magistrate
Issue search warrants
Warrants for arrest
Conduct early administrative hearings.
3 Lay magistrates
Under section 16(3) of the Justices of the Peace Act 1979 3 lay magistrates have the same power as that of a district judge.
Sit on a panel
Chairperson – has more experience and has gone through more training (managing judicial decision making – focuses on working with legal advisor, managing the court and ensuring effective, impartial decision making.)
Explain the training which lay magistrates have to go through
All have to go through training,
Section 19 (3) of the Courts Act 2003 set out statutory obligation on the Lord Chancellor to provide training and training materials.
This is supervised by the Magistrates’ Committee of the Judicial Studies Board.
Training takes place
In local areas
Via the courts clerk
Weekend courses organised by local universities.
Although the Judicial Studies Board do identify that training needs to collaborate locally and NATIONALLY where appropriate.
Training of the Youth and family panel chair person will be delivered nationally due to the fact that there is fee chair people in this area therefore it would not be cost effective to run them locally
The training in detail
In 1998 the Magistrates New Training Initiative was introduced (MNTI 1)
In 2004 this was refined by the Magistrates National Training Initiative (MNTI 2)
New magistrates training
Initial introductory training – understanding the bench, administration of court and the roles and responsibilities within the court.
Core training – this provides the new magistrates to acquire and develop key skills, knowledge and understanding.
Activities – observations of courts and visits to places such as prison.
New Magistrates in court – first 2 years
Between 8 – 11 of the sessions will be mentored.
Expected to attend around seven training sessions.
After two years or when the magistrate is seen to be ready an appraisal will take place.
If a person can not show that the have acquired the competencies will be given extra training.
If after extra training they are seen to still not have the required competencies then they are referred by the Local Advisory Committee to the Lord Chancellor to advise them to be removed from sitting.
Continua's Training for Lay Magistrates – ALL Magistrates are appraised every 3 years
The four areas of competence that they are trained in:
Managing yourself – preparation for court, conduct in court and ongoing learning.
Working as a member of the team – team decision making.
Making Judicial Decisions – impartial and structured decisions.
Managing judicial decision making – (chairperson only)
Explain the retirement and removal of lay magistrates.
Names are placed on a Supplement List – (ability to continue administrative duties, usually signing documents.
Lay magistrates can resign from office before they are 70.
Section 11 of the courts Act 2003 gives the Lord Chancellor power to remove a lay magistrate for the following reasons:
Incapacity or behaviour – 10 such removal per year (committed a crime)
Persistent failure to meet standards of competence.
Declining or neglecting to take a proper part in the exercise of their functions as a justice of the peace.
After their two years training if they no not identify core competencies and when extra training is given then the Local Advisory Committee can advise them to be removed from sitting.
In the past
Removal in the past has been made for Transvestite behaviour.
This was largely criticised and would not be take place in today’s society.
Outline the criminal jurisdiction of magistrates within the English legal system.
Duties of lay magistrates
Deal with 97% of all criminal cases in the magistrates court.
Deal with preliminary hearings for the other 3 %.
early administrative hearings
Bail applications (Bail Act 1976)
Legal Aid applications
They hear the case
Take legal advise from the qualified clerk (section 28(3) of the Justices of the peace Act 1979 states that the legal clerk give advice about law, practice or procedure)
Discuss and come to an impartial decision with other members of the bench.
Deliver the verdict.
Decide and deliver the sentencing which in an adult court can not be more that 6 months imprisonment and/or £5,000 maximum fine.
In Youth Court (10-17) (only offence not to be tried here is murder). Not as formal as an adults court
Must have had extra training.
Maximum hear is 2 years training and detention order.
Sit with a circuit judge in Crown Court to hear appeals
Describe how lay magistrates are appointed
Applications – go to the Local Advisory Committee (maximum of 12 members)
Apply to Local Advisory Committee
or be nominated by local political parties or trade unions etc.
Advertisements have been used in local papers and via other media. In Leeds a radio station has been used.
They like to receive applications from a wide spectrum of society.
The current procedure is set for selection and appointment out within the Justices of the Peace Act 1979.
Aged between 18 and 65 – used to be 27 but this was reduced to 18 in 2003. In September 2006 a 19-year old law student was appointed to the bench in North Yorkshire.
In 1998 Lord Chancellor set out six key qualities.
Understanding and communication.
Maturity and Sound temperament.
Commitment and Realiability
Area – in 2003 the Courts Act abolished the 15 mile radius, now they must work or live within or near the local justice area.
Commitment – sit at least 26 half days each year.
Excluded from appointment
Serious criminal convictions
References are checked
Short list drawn up
Identifies 6 key qualities
Explore candidates attitudes on various criminal justice issues such as drink driving
Testing candidates potential judicial aptitude by a discussion surrounding two cases.
A number of judging and sentencing exercises
Candidates who are selected by the Local Advisory Committee are then nominated by them to the Lord Chancellor who will usually appoint them.
Before sitting in court , newly appointed magistrates are required to attend an extensive 2 year training and mentoring programme organised by the Judicial Studies Board.
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of using lay magistrates in the Criminal Court
Cross section of society
50% gender split
8.5% ethnic minority
Speed – quicker than Crown Court
Improved Training – not amateurs
Legal Advisors – since 1999 all clerks have to be legally qualified, in addition anyone under 40 years of age must qualify within 10 years.
Few Appeals – most are made regarding sentencing, not decision. In 2003
Only 96 appeals by way of case stated. Only 43 allowed.
2,811 appeal out of 1.9 million for decision/sentence appeals.
Middle aged, middle class.
Inconsistency in sentencing
Reliance on the clerk
Training – varies
Overall I believe that the overall success of the lay magistrates within the criminal justice system is proved by the….
Low success rates of appeal
2,811 out of 1.9 million were allowed to appeal on decision/sentencing
43 appeals by case state.
This confirms that although there are problems with using this system it still works effectively and maintains a vital role in our criminal justice system.