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It's not all about juries: magistrates

video on magistrates

One reason that some people get irate about the attention given to juries is that relatively speaking, very few cases actually get to a jury.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that juries are not interesting – and in this course, Joe’s case involves an allegation which needs to be heard by a jury. But the fact is that over 90% of cases start and finish in the magistrates’ court. It is reasonable to describe magistrates as the workhorses of the criminal justice system, and without them, the system would grind to a halt. All criminal cases start before the magistrates. There are then various rules to be applied and various decisions taken about whether the case will continue there, or whether it will go up to the Crown Court to be heard by a judge and jury.

In this video I discuss magistrates and what they do. You might like to follow up the video by looking at the Ministry of Justice (government) guidance on becoming a magistrate and at the Magistrates Association website. The Magistrates Association is independent of government. What else can you find out there about who magistrates are and what they do? Although in this course we are focusing on criminal justice, you’ll see that magistrates have roles in a whole range of other contexts.

Discuss anything you find interesting about magistrates with your colleagues.

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From Crime to Punishment: an Introduction to Criminal Justice

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