Advantages and Disadvantages of Lay Magistrates

In this essay I intend to evaluate the effectiveness of lay personnel and the advantages and the disadvantages of magistrates and jurors. Lay members (Magistrates) have legal advisers within points of law and live locally as they have to live close so that they know the area well. Also it is cheaper to send cases to lay magistrates than using professional judges because they are cheaper and do their work voluntarily. Many magistrates are from a good gender balance; this can benefit them because they are able to understand males and females.

Lay magistrates are not legally qualified which doesn’t aid them as they could give an incorrect sentence when someone is actually innocent. They are not as good as cross section, as most magistrates are often perceived as being middle-aged and middle-class. Also they prosecute biased, as they believe the police too soon; there fore they could be sentencing someone innocent. Moreover there is an inconsistency in sentencing, so offenders in different areas are sentenced for different lengths of times for the same offence. Magistrates come from a ride range of backgrounds than professional judges and are much older then district judges.

Lay magistrates get paid a ‘stipe’ which is called a “stipend” thus the term stipendiary comes from. District judges sit in the county and magistrate’s court; an additional name for district judges is stipendiary judges. Lay magistrates are not legally qualified and do not get paid, where as stipendiary magistrates are legally qualified and get paid for there job. The advantages of having jury service are that the legal system becomes more open and justice is seen to be done as members of the public aim to get fair results and they are made without bias.

It also helps to keep the law clearer as points have to be explained to the jury, enabling the defendant to understand the case more easily. For the jury service there is public confidence and it is an open system of justice they are also considered to be a fundamental part of a democratic society. The jury services are free from pressure during discussions and are protected from outside influences when deciding on the verdict. Although there is a lot of media influence and reporting information, which can mean that, the decision can be manipulated.

Other disadvantages of having the jury service can be that they may be a case of racial bias. In conclusion there are many advantages and disadvantages of both magistrates and juries, which are that there is public confidence, fair results without being bias and juries represent the public as a whole, this means that they are a fundamental part of a democratic society. On the other hand the disadvantage of magistrates is that there is a lot of media influence and there is also racial bias.