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AS Level Law

Legal Personnel

Lay People

AS Level Law
What You Need to Know:
The selection, appointment and role of the magistrate.
The selection and role of the jury.
What You Need to Discuss:
The social, racial and gender composition of the magistracy.
The arguments for and against lay magistrates.
The arguments for and against the use of the jury.

AS Level Law
Introduction
ELS makes extensive use of lay people
sometimes for expertise (e.g. tribunal members)
2 main lay institutions = magistracy and jury (long
history - mags 1195, juries 1215) amateur nature
bring values and common sense of ordinary people
into the system
prevents system becoming property of a legal elite

AS Level Law
Magistrates
approx 30,000 lay magistrates - part-time & unpaid
some minor civil jurisdiction
mainly concerned with criminal matters (approx 95%
of all criminal trials in mags cts):
summary trials
Early Administrative Hearings
hearing bail applications
issuing warrants

AS Level Law
no formal qualifications required - must live within 15
miles of commission area (local justice)
appointed by Lord Chancellor on recommendation
from a Local Advisory Committee
LAC membership mostly serving and retired mags
vacancies advertised/volunteers sought from local
community groups/most new mags known personally
or by reputation to LAC

AS Level Law
limited training had been criticised - MNTI combines
competence-based and mentoring approaches - mags
must also maintain PDL

Advantages:
low cost
community participation - local justice by local people

AS Level Law
Criticisms:
social composition - most from professional and
managerial classes, mainly white and middle-class
LCD aims to address this through new National
Recruitment Strategy and Magistrates Shadowing
Scheme
inadequate training hence MNTI
prosecution and conviction-minded due to social
background

AS Level Law
inconsistencies in sentencing (some inevitable if
mags are to reflect local concerns/circumstances)
Home Office statistics 2001 e.g. magistrates in
Southeast Northumberland gave an absolute or
conditional discharge to 45.6% of those found
guilty, against a national average of 21.2%, while
magistrates in Havering, East London discharged
only 9.7%

AS Level Law
however
alternatives (e.g. more District Judges) would
increase costs and diminish community involvement

therefore
need to introduce measures to broaden the social
and racial composition of the lay magistracy LCD
initiatives therefore welcome

AS Level Law
Juries
now rare in civil cases
criminal cases - 12 jurors - decide facts and reach
verdict (Court Service leaflet)
no training - shown short video explaining selection,
role, trial procedure
eligibility - Juries Act 1974:
aged 18-70, on electoral register, UK resident for
5 years +

AS Level Law
ineligible (e.g. clergy, mentally-ill)
disqualified (e.g. significant criminal record)
request excusal as of right (e.g. 65+, previous service,
medical professional)
request excusal for good cause (e.g. pregnancy)
must try to reach unanimous verdict
majority verdict may be allowed after min. 2 hours
deliberation:

AS Level Law
12/11 jurors - 10 must agree
10 jurors - 9 must agree
9 jurors - must be unanimous
if jury falls below 9 or fails to reach verdict, case is
discharged and may be re-tried before different jury
Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes jury research
difficult in UK (but see results of research in
New Zealand) (Guardian article) (Darbyshire et al
survey for Auld Review)

AS Level Law
studies of shadow juries show no set pattern but
generally serious approach - strong individuals can
dominate

Advantages:
symbolic value
perverse verdicts (e.g. acquitting MS sufferers of
cannabis possession)
safeguard against oppression
spreads burden of determining guilt

AS Level Law
Disadvantages:
open to intimidation
understand complex evidence? (e.g. fraud trials)
swayed by clever advocacy rather than evidence?
may bring prejudices into the jury room
Unrepresentative (many professionals and middleclass people are able to exploit the present categories
of excusal to avoid service)

AS Level Law
Criminal Justice Bill and juries:
allow the prosecution to apply for trial without jury
where there is a danger of jury tampering
allow the prosecution to apply for trial without jury in
complex or lengthy cases
remove all categories of excusal as of right and
significantly restrict discretionary excusal. Only the
mentally disordered will be ineligible and those with a
significant criminal record disqualified

AS Level Law
Conclusion
of many benefits, most significant is community
participation
in this respect, both lay magistracy and juries are
equally significant
reforms necessary, most urgently to broaden social
and racial composition of magistracy

AS Level Law
Revision Headings:
Lay - Introduction
Lay - Role/Powers of Mags
Lay - Appt/Training of Mags
Lay - Evaluation (Mags)
Lay - Role of Juries
Lay - Selection/Eligibility for Jury Service
Lay - Evaluation (Juries)
Lay - Conclusion

AS Level Law
Test Questions:
Using you cards, you should now be able to write a short paragraph
in response to each of the following questions:
Describe the reliance upon lay participation in the English legal
system.
Describe the roles and powers of lay magistrates.
How effective is the lay magistracy in delivering local justice by
local people?
Describe the selection of jurors and their role in the trial.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the jury.

AS Level Law
Useful Websites:

For more information on magistrates - www.dca.gov.uk/magistrates.htm and


www.magistrates-association.org.uk
For more information on the Judicial Studies Board - www.jsboard.co.uk
For more information on jury service www.courtservice.gov.uk/using_courts/jury/index.htm and www.juror.cjsonline.org
For a series of interesting articles on juries, visit the Guardian at www.guardian.co.uk
/jury/ and www.guardian.co.uk/jury/article/0,2763,426241,00.html
For information on research into jury trial undertaken for the New Zealand Law
Commission, visit www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4041149,00.html,
www.lawcom.govt.nz/documents/publications/PP32.pdf,
www.lawcom.govt.nz/documents/publications/PP37Vol1.pdf,
www.lawcom.govt.nz/documents/publications/PP37Vol2.pdf and
www.lawcom.govt.nz/documents/publications/r69.PDF
For Penny Darbyshire, Andy Maughan and Angus Stewarts work on jury research for the
Auld Review of the criminal courts, visit www.kingston.ac.uk/~ku00596/elsres01.pdf