The Judicial System

The Judicial System in many Asian countries,Australia, New South Wales and the US are Evolved from the British system . Each county was taken care of by the justice of peace. After the U. S. evolved into Federal States, the 1851 GENERAL ASSEMBLY reorganized the courts system at the Regional and circuit levels and gave designated responsibility and jurisdiction according to Geographic areas. .The US Constitution of Federalism limited the authority for Federal government, and all the remaining were left to the STATE governments.

This shared power defines the relationship between the federal and local courts.. Local courts were national system of tribunals created under Article I of the US Constitution , and these were Adjudicatory without the constitutional protection. Thus the Magistrates of these courts lack the security of long tenure and protection from salary reductions . These local courts are defined as Administrative Agencies organized pursuant to Article I of the constitution ,created by the Congress which is empowered to do so , for the purpose of creating tribunals inferior to Supreme Court… (Douglas P.

Woodlock) Magistrate is the entry level judicial officer assisting in pre trial phase appointed by a local committee for a period of 8 years, and 4 if he is Part Time Magistrate.. The courts of State and Federal Levels have authority to decide cases of different types while the District Court Judges are appointed on the basis of population and work load. (Toni M Fine) A Locality can be a Municipality or Town. These Local Governments have their own court system thus, presided over by the local Magistrate who are public Civil Officers with judicial powers delegated under Local Governing Laws.

Thus each county or Locality is markedly different . The number of courts for localities is decided by the state court according to workload. Sometimes more courts may be clubbed with one Local court Magistrate. Of late courts’ filing are increasing and as a result the very picture of civil practice in District courts have changed; the complexities of issues presented , are also bringing about changes in configuration of clerks and judges. The focus is now increasingly shifting to Pretrial work, i. e. the work in Local courts where each party’s case is committed to paper

The Municipal and County courts are locally funded . Their jurisdiction is limited . They are outside the state funded court system . At Federal Levels, the State Judicial Department is the Administrative Body . The Judicial Department assist the . Chief Justice in planning the fiscal and budgetary allocations. It also assists in the supervising of court activities, and in modernizing and improving management practices in state and federal courts ,Such control is for bringing training and professionalism . But this Body has no control over the Local courts.

The county commissioners are termed Judges in Local courts . They need not be members of the Bar. The Municipal and Local courts are authorized by State Laws. City Councils appoint Municipal Judges. Sometimes the city also votes; the eligibility is determined by the respective city’s charter . They need not be attorneys. Whereas the Chief Justices at state courts have to be practicing attorneys admitted to the city’s Bar. (Courts of Oregon) Because the Congress creates budgetary allocations for the upkeep of federal courts,these courts are well provided with technical support .

All trial proceedings are audio taped. But in Magistrate courts the proceedings are informal and not recorded or reported.. The Federal Judge is President’s nominee confirmed by senate. They are well paid and even after retirement at 70 they remain senior judges. The Constitution drafters designed such privileges to keep them independent of the legislature… IT WAS IN 1974 THAT THE General Assembly created the Magistrate system and in 1976 all magistrates were salaried employees. A Committee on District Courts fixes their salary.

, The County and the cities supplement 50% of this , and sometime also reimburse the mileage costs if the courts sit in different places in the county. It has often been criticized that non attorneys are appointed as magistrates. But the creation of such posts and increasing the role of Local courts has been necessary because of the accumulation of cases. Magistrate judges disposed of 500,897 matters in 1992. There are 369 full-time and 110 part-time magistrate judges. (‘Lectric Law Library)

Many studies have been made and reports submitted in Human Rights and Legal Reform forums emphasizing the importance of giving periodic training to magistrates. For they play a crucial role in dispensing Justice to the common man. The following excerpt from the Massachussette Bar council’s webpage explains the importance of the magistrate’s fine legal knowledge and sidelights the possible manner in which a case may be falsely categorized under inappropriate sections with connivance from clerks or Interns. It is in the court of First appearance that it is decided ..

“ Was someone under the influence of alcohol? Did the defendant pull the trigger or was he just standing on the sidewalk? Did Mo Vaughn agree to do 10 TV Commercials advertising men's underwear for Filene's? Did Alan Tremain know that there was an Indian burial ground under the Copley Plaza when he sold it to the Quality Inn? Is there an Indian burial ground under the Copley Plaza? ” The proliferation of cases and paucity of funds are pointed out as causes for complaints of delays and inefficiency in lower courts.

But many causes are attributed to this; for, the Judge’s administrative work has increased . The Manual on U. S. courts states that “ an average district court judge has more than 400 newly filed cases to contend with each year. ” “There are numerous reasons for delay, many of which are outside of a court's control. Attorneys and/or litigants may be responsible. Cases may be delayed because settlement negotiations are in progress. Some courts also experience shortages in judges or available courtrooms. (ABOUT THE US COURTS–US COURTS) .Electronic and automation facilities are a must for transparency .

Internship system could be a boon if properly utilized as Interns can help the magistrate in taking independent researches; magistrates are enabled to attend training camps. to acquire legal skills. Recommendations have also been made to ensure greater independence from local politicians, through reconstituting appointment committees for Magistrates. Report 38 (1983) Interim report on Magistracy. Law Reform commission) . THE Australian Legal system which is also an inheritance of the British system has evolved along sound technical and scientific lines.

The Magistrate courts here are well equipped with cameras and TVs and good technical felicities for faithful recording and replicating. There is absolute transparency and efficiency. This builds confidence and respects for magistracy in people’s minds. Problem Oriented Courts are also an Australian specialty. Even at the Local levels special courts for Environment, Domestic Violence, Youth, and Women are provided thus giving magistrates the exposure and training in areas; they could specialize and deal fairly.

Australian courts are thus regarded as the most advanced system in the world.. (CENTRE FOR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS . INTERNSHIP REPORT) CONCLUSION The Local courts and the system of Magistracy need to be reformed through better funding and training patterns. However there is no doubting the fact that they have an irreplaceable role to fit in , in the dispensation of justice to Individuals. This is already exercising the thoughts of important people and Studies have been followed up with implementations.


  • Douglas. P. Woodlock:Federal Court System :Mass Legal System ; Masslaw Help. com,May 22,2000.
  • Tony. M. Fine, How The US Court System Functions :Issues of Democracy,sep 1999;  USIS  eJournal.
  • Electric Law Library. http://www. lectlaw. com
  • (http://www. uscourts. gov/about. html)