Magistrate Courts today

Another branch of the argument for fusion is that at the moment talent is easily wasted. This is due to the fact that future lawyers must specialise very early on: either following the path to become a solicitor or a barrister. Therefore, if further into their training or career a lawyer discovers they have an aptitude for advocacy, for example, they do not have the opportunity to maximise the use of this talent. It would be an advantage to merge in order to be inline with legal professions in other common law countries that have expert advocates; England is the only one with a divided profession.

Although there is a lucid argument to suggest that fusion would be an advantage there is also a rational one to propose that it wouldn't. Critics of the movement claim that it is more effective to have two separate professions focusing on their different jobs than having one that does both. It is argued by the Bar that the cab rank rule and the fact that barristers are independent ensures that all defendants are represented regardless of wealth or power of their challenger. However, this argument has been to some extent been weakened by the introduction of the Solicitors Advocacy Certificate by the CLSA i??

90 and it is fairly easy for successful barristers to avoid the cab rank principal. We can conclude from the evidence that although there will be a few minor problems during the changeover period, in the long run merging the two professions would be very beneficial to the majority of people and the advantages of it would prevail over the major disadvantages. 2(A) There are some 30,374 lay magistrates in England and Wales, 15,858 men and 14,516 women, appointed by the Lord Chancellor or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in the name of the Crown.

Magistrates are ordinary members of the community who sit in the Magistrates' Courts and who dispense justice at the lowest level of the English court system. They are unpaid for what they do and therefore are not servants of the Crown. This supports their position of impartiality between the Crown and the public whom they serve. English lay magistrates are not learned in the law – they do not hold legal qualifications, nor have they formally studied law to any level other than that which they may have done at school.

There may be some exceptions – there are legal professionals who are also lay magistrates – but the vast majorities are just ordinary members of the public. They do, however, undergo a vast amount of training so that they can perform their judicial functions correctly and within the law. There are three Magistrates (also known as justices of peace) who make decisions in court.

Only one magistrate has very limited powers e. g. warrants. Magistrates take part in summery trials, committal proceedings, and ancillary matters e. g.issuing warrants, bail applications, and youth court and family court. Cases heard in the Magistrates' Court are termed summary cases and are, supposedly, to be dealt with quickly with summary justice. These tend to be the simple, petty crimes of everyday existence. For more serious crimes the accused is charged on indictment and sent to the Crown Court to be tried there. In between summary and indictable offences there are a whole range of offences that are termed either-way offences. These are offences that vary in their seriousness.

The best example of an either-way offence is theft. These offences can either be tried summarily by the magistrates or sent up to the Crown Court. The process of deciding where an either-way offence will be heard starts with what is known as Plea before Venue. The accused is asked to indicate whether he will plead guilty or not guilty. If he indicates he will plead guilty, then the magistrates immediately accept the case and try it as if it were from the start a summary offence. There then follows what is becoming known as Mode of Sentence.

The magistrates have to decide whether their maximum powers (5000 pounds and/or 6 months in prison) are sufficient to punish the offender or whether their powers are insufficient and they need to commit the defendant to the Crown Court for sentence. For more than 600 years justices of the peace/magistrates have performed the duties of enforcing the common law, statute law and generally preserving local peace and order. In recent years Parliament has burdened the 900 magistrates courts with increasing amounts of highly complex legislation.

Magistrate Courts today deal with more cases than any other court in the English Legal system. For example 98% of all criminal cases are dealt with in magistrate courts within England and Wales. Magistrates also deal with civil cases, performing administrative duties, particularly with licensing matters. Due to the presence of magistrate courts, a huge burden is taken off the court system as a whole, allowing it to run smoothly and efficiently. 2(B) A crown court uses a jury consisting of twelve persons from either sex.

The sworn duty of the jury is "to faithfully try the defendant and give a true verdict according to the evidence". Many long-standing arguments exist both for and against the retention of trial by jury. The present government have recently revived the debate after pressing for the defendants right of jury trial to be removed for either way offences. The government's main argument is that the decision of jury trial should be with the magistrate not the defendant. The main view of the country however is that jury trial should be retained. " Let it not be supposed that this court is in any way opposed to trial by jury.

It has been the bulwark of our liberties too long for any of us to seek to alter it. Whenever a man is on trial for serious crime, or when in a civil case a man's honour or integrity is at stake, or when one or ever party must be deliberately lying, the trial by jury has no equal. " Above Lord Denning has eloquently outlined one of the arguments in favour of trial by jury. The reasoning behind this argument is that as things stand there is no more coherent or just which could be a substitute for something, which the majority supports. In short why change for changes sake.