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NCJ Number: 51686 Find in a Library
Title: FUTURE OF THE MAGISTRATES' COURTS (FROM MAGISTRATES' COURT 1976 - WHAT PROGRESS? CANBERRA, (AUSTRALIA), 26-28 NOVEMBER, 1976, 1978, SEE NCJ-51685)
Author(s): D O'CONNOR
Corporate Author: Australian Institute of Criminology
Australia
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Australian Institute of Criminology
Canberra ACT, 2601, Australia
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MAGISTRATES' COURTS IS PRESENTED, AND AN UPGRADING OF THE STATUS OF THE MAGISTRATE TO THAT OF JUDGE AND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE MAGISTRATES FROM THE POLICE ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: IN THE 19TH CENTURY IN AUSTRALIA, THE ORIGINAL SYSTEM OF JUSTICES OF THE PEACE WAS ABANDONED AND PROFESSIONAL AND QUALIFIED MAGISTRATES WERE APPOINTED TO TRY LOWER COURT SUMMARY CASES. ALTHOUGH MAGISTRATES ARE TRAINED TO SERVE IN THEIR POSITION, THEIR TRAINING DOES NOT MATCH THE LEGAL EDUCATION OF JUDGES SERVING IN THE AUSTRALIAN INTERMEDIATE AND SUPERIOR COURTS. MAGISTRATES' CASES INVOLVING PETTY OFFENDERS OFTEN CHARGED WITH VIOLATIONS OF THE VAGRANCY AND POOR LAWS. TO THE LOWER CLASS, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT THE COURT WAS AN ARM OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, ALTHOUGH, OFFICIALLY, THEY ARE SEPARATE ENTITIES. COURTROOMS ARE SOMETIMES IN POLICE BUILDINGS AND UNIFORMED OFFICERS ACT AS USHERS AND HAVE A GENERALLY VISIBLE PRESENCE IN THE OPERATIONS OF THE COURT. THE MAGISTRATES ARE USUALLY PERCEIVED BY LOWER CLASS DEFENDANTS AS BEING BIASED IN FAVOR OF POLICE OFFICERS. THE 20TH CENTURY HAS SEEN AN EXPANSION OF WORK OF THE MAGISTRATES' COURTS AND A DEMAND BY THE WORKING CLASS THAT EQUAL JUSTICE BE ADMINISTERED WITHOUT REGARD TO THE SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS OF THE DEFENDANTS OR THE NATURE OF THE CHARGES AGAINST THEM. IN LIGHT OF THESE CHANGES AND EXPECTATIONS, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT THE LEGAL TRAINING OF MAGISTRATES BE UPGRADED TO THE POINT WHERE THEY CAN BE TITLED 'JUDGES.' IT IS ADVISED THAT COURTROOMS SHOULD NOT BE LOCATED IN POLICE BUILDINGS AND THAT THE POLICE SHOULD NOT SERVE IN COURT OPERATIONS. IT IS ALSO SUGGESTED THAT THE MAGISTRATES' COURTS BE GRANTED INCREASED INDEPENDENCE FROM ALL TIES WITH OTHER BRANCHES OF THE GOVERNMENT. AS A MEANS OF INCREASING THE COMPETENCY OF MAGISTRATES NOW SERVING, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT MAGISTRATES BE ALLOWED TO SIT WITH JUDGES OF INTERMEDIATE AND SUPERIOR COURTS TO ACT AS ASSESSORS OR COADJUDICATORS IN A WIDE RANGE OF MATTERS. IT IS FURTHER PROPOSED THAT THERE BE A GREATER INTEGRATION BETWEEN THE LOWER COURTS OF THE MAGISTRATES AND THE MIDDLE AND SUPERIOR COURTS OF THE JUDGES. A REPORTED DISCUSSION OF CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS ON THIS PRESENTATION INDICATES GENERAL AGREEMENT WITH THE CHANGES INDICATED. (RCB)
Main Term(s): Magistrates
Index Term(s): Alternative court procedures; Australia; Court reform; Court reorganization; Reform
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51686

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