Lay Magistrates

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Lay magistrates are appointed by the secretary of state and so not necessarily need formal legal qualifications. However, there are some requirements which were set out by Lord Chancellor in 1998. The requirements were categorized into 6 different aspects. The first requirement needed is a good character, the second being understanding and communication. These are needed to help the defendant feel that they aren’t instantly thought as guilty. And the Lay magistrates can understand both situations. They must also be socially aware as the cases that they have to trial will be involved in social happenings. A lay magistrate must also be mature and of sound temperament as the lay magistrate must be able to keep calm and collected. An important factor that they must also have is that they have sound judgement so they will not make any bias decisions. However, there are a select few formal requirements to be a lay magistrate. The first being that a lay magistrate must be between the ages of 18-70 and be prepared to sit for at least 26 half days per year. They must also have no serious criminal record and not be an member of the armed forces. About 1,500 Lay Magistrates are appointed every year. Names are put forward by all sorts of organisations. There is a two stage interview process. The first interview to find out more about the candidates personal attributes. The candidate will also be questioned to find out their attitudes on various issues such as drink driving and young offenders. The second interview is aimed at testing the candidates judicial aptitude which is achieved by a discussion on studies which are typical of those normally heard in the magistrates court. The training of the lay magistrates is divided into four areas. The first is managing yourself where this focuses on the basic aspects of self-management. The second is Making judicial decisions where this focuses on impartial and structured decision making. The third is Managing judicial decision...
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